From social media strategy to content production, our PLANOLEADER Larissa May has already cultivated a full and enriching career in her early twenties. In fact, you may already be familiar with Larissa's story via her popular fashion and lifestyle blog LivinLikeLarz or her recent work in producing Grace Vanderwaal's first music video Moonlight. Today, however, we're focusing on the other side of the spectrum - enter Larissa's latest venture #HalfTheStory, a social media movement that aims to redefine how we use and approach social media in our everyday lives. Helmed by Larissa and a growing NYC- based team, the project is quickly gaining traction with features on Good Morning America and esteemed sources including ABC News, Refinery29, and more. Even with Larissa's demanding schedule, we were thrilled to find a time to chat with the emerging entrepreneur on all things social media over a cup of coffee in the picturesque Soho neighborhood.
Please introduce yourself!
Hey Hey! My name is Larissa May also known as (Larz). I am a 23-year-old social media strategist, producer, and founder of #HalfTheStory, a global community that encourages individuals to share parts of their lives that exist outside of the standard social media story— Life unfiltered. During my "off time" I enjoy exploring the city, brunching with friends, and playing with pugs (I'm obsessed).
Before #HalfTheStory what were you up to professionally, what role did digital play in your job description, and what have been some notable career moments so far?
When I was 18, I started my fashion blog (@livinlikelarz), which became my full-time passion. I would travel to fashion week every year and spent my summers interning at companies like Rogers and Cowan, Sincerely Jules, Dannijo, and Spring. I spent my four years of college building relationships with thought-leaders and designers in NYC, in hopes of pursuing a future in fashion. Ironically enough, my career began to unfold my senior year when I launched my social media consultancy "Livinlikelarz" and applied my love for content creation and social media to other brands. At the same time, I launched #HalfTheStory, as a way to build more meaningful human connections in the digital space after a rather stressful "burn out" moment at fashion week. I wanted to create a safe space for people inside the industry and out to share another piece of their lives that didn't fit into the standard social media story (i.e., behind the scenes, founder stories, entrepreneurial struggles, and aspirations). I recently celebrated my New York anniversary! Over this past year, I have managed social media accounts for a variety of brands and produced copious amounts of content. One of my favorite projects was producing Grace Vanderwaal's first music video Moonlight.
Walk us through your day-to-day. How often are you on social media? What are some things you're currently working on?
For me, there is no such thing as a typical day, but that's exactly how I like it. I usually dedicate two days a week to meetings with clients or on set. The rest of the week is focused on creating social media calendars, producing content, and working on #HalfTheStory. Right now I'm working on a direct-to-consumer candle brand that is launching early December called Otherland. The brand, team, and concept are incredible. I personally feel most inspired when I am surrounded by creative people who are transforming conventional products or ideas.
How would you describe your relationship to social media pre-launch and post-launch of #HalfTheStory?
Social media has always been my best friend and my worst enemy. Before #HalfTheStory, I was much more obsessed with my personal brand and social media @livinlikelarz. Since the launch of #HalfTheStory and my consultancy, I'm focused on building my community and the brands that I work with. It's so much easier for me to put my phone on airplane mode and walk away. Additionally, due to the nature of #HalfTheStory, I have a much more care-free approach to my personal social media. I never really stress about posting at a specific time. In fact, I post only when I feel inspired, which allows me to be more authentic with my followers. I finally feel like I've set social media boundaries.
What have been some of your important takeaways from Half the Story that you apply to your client projects or professional endeavors?
We live in an era where "social engagement" and "user generated content" is everything for brands. #HalfTheStory is the best example of how to put a brand's conversation in the community's hands. Without our community, #HalfTheStory doesn't exist. What I've learned most is that engagement is not just a "like" it's about driving conventional conversation and emotional connection.
What are your top 3 tips for brands looking to use social media as a tool for authentic community building?
- Instagram DM is the best way to build a relationship with a potential client.
- Recognize highly active community members with discounts or special offers like swag or stickers.
- Translate digital relationships into IRL community events.
As someone at the helm of a positive movement like #HalfTheStory, how do you believe social media will evolve in the next couple of years?
I truly believe the conversations that we are creating about social media today are the foundation for a healthier relationship tomorrow. Social media is only a tiny slice of our life— #HalfTheStory.