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How I Got Here: Broadsheet’s Social Media Editor on the importance of trusting your gut

WORDS BY CAIT EMMA BURKE

“It has taken me a long time to have confidence in the ideas and insights I bring to the table.”

Have you ever stalked someone on LinkedIn and wondered how on earth they managed to land that wildly impressive job? While the internet and social media might have us believe that our ideal job is a mere pipe dream, the individuals who have these jobs were, believe it or not, in the same position once, fantasising over someone else’s seemingly unattainable job.

But behind the awe-inspiring titles and the fancy work events lies a heck of a lot of hard work. So what lessons have been learnt and what skills have proved invaluable in getting them from daydreaming about success to actually being at the top of their industry?


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Welcome to How I Got Here, where we talk to women who are killing it in their respective fields about how they landed their awe-inspiring jobs, exploring the peaks and pits, the failures and the wins, and most importantly the knowledge, advice and practical tips they’ve gleaned along the way.

This week we chat with Stephanie Vigilante, Broadsheet’s Social Media Editor. From falling into a marketing degree and dabbling in journalism and editorial internships to becoming Broadsheet’s go-to temp, Stephanie’s hard work and persistence paid off when she landed her current role.

It’s a fast-paced role in a demanding industry, but it encompasses her love for writing and social media, has taught her to think on her feet and, most importantly, trust her instincts. Plus, it comes with some pretty great perks. Here’s what she’s learnt along the way.

What do you do and what’s your official job title?

I’m Broadsheet’s Social Media Editor. I’m responsible for the editorial social media strategy, nationally. Essentially, I’m reading 15 to 20 pieces of editorial content per day and crafting engaging and compelling social media sells. I’m responsible for posting, scheduling, monitoring and reporting.

Take us back to when you were first starting out. Did you study to get into your chosen field, or did you start out with an internship/entry-level role and climb the ladder? Tell us the story.

Fresh out of high school I was really unsure about my career. I’d always had strong language skills and loved being creative. I fell into a marketing degree at RMIT. At the time, it seemed like the best way to merge my love for words and interest in design. I graduated in 2015 and worked for a year in the industry before realising that I was less passionate about business and wanted to pursue a career in publishing. In 2017, I went back to uni to study a Graduate Diploma in Journalism at RMIT. As part of the course, we had to complete an editorial internship and I landed a spot at Broadsheet.

I’ve always been obsessed with my city, fashion, food and design so Broadsheet felt like the perfect fit. I remember throwing myself into all the opportunities it presented. I’ve always been pretty timid – especially in new environments – but it was important to me to make an impression and so I forced myself to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I pitched story ideas, I picked up the phone for interviews, I introduced myself to the wider team.

When my internship was up, the team called me back to fill in casually for the Melbourne assistant editor. And then for the commercial editorial assistant. And then for the social media editor. Before long, I ended up becoming the go-to fill-in girl when the team required extra manpower. By some accounts, I suppose, I weaselled my way into the company. In that process though, I found my passion. And that was in the social-editorial world. When the opportunity eventually came up for a full-time role on the social media team, I jumped.

What challenges/hurdles have you faced getting to where you are now? Can you tell us about one in particular?

A lot of my friends left high school knowing that they wanted to become a nurse, or a teacher or a lawyer. Their path was clearly paved out. Go to uni, get the degree, land a job in the industry. For so long I had no idea what my trajectory looked like. It was daunting but ultimately it gave me the opportunity to find my passion. I went back to uni with plans to become a writer – and it is something I do on a freelance basis – but I’d never expected to find a full-time role that encompasses both my love for writing and social media. I didn’t even know this job existed five years ago.

And, of course, my battle with impostor syndrome is ongoing. Given the nature of the path that ultimately led me to become Broadsheet’s social media editor, I couldn’t help but think I’d ended up here by sheer luck. ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ vibes. It has taken me a long time to have confidence in the ideas and insights I bring to the table. But with time I’ve realised how important it is to trust my gut.

What do you want people to know about your industry/your role?

A lot of people pass a career in social media off as trivial and superficial. (It only takes a Facebook and Instagram shutdown to keep me grounded). But it is so much more than that. Like broadcast, social media is paramount for sharing information. Yes, Facebook’s monopoly is terrifying. And so is the idea that with a flick of a switch, everything that I’ve worked for could be made redundant.

We saw it when Facebook briefly turned off news in Australia earlier this year. But accessing and sharing news via social media captures today’s zeitgeist – regardless of whether that’s hard news or information on the latest restaurant by Andrew McConnell – and without it, we’d be a lot less connected and informed.

What’s the best part about your role?

I love the challenge of getting the crux of a 400-word story into an enthralling 100-character headline. And playing around with short, sharp copy that’s both personable and evocative. There’s also the instant gratification (and contrasting disappointment) that comes from pushing out a post on social media and watching the number of current readers rise.

There are few roles where you can measure the success of your work instantaneously. It means, as a team, we’re constantly learning and evolving in real-time. And of course, the perks that come with running the social media accounts for Australia’s leading city guide means I get to attend some pretty cool events and share them with our audience, such as Melbourne Fashion Festival.

What would surprise people about your role? 

It’s so much more than hitting ‘post’. It’s about learning the nuances of each audience. (Like knowing it’s potato scallop in Sydney and Brisbane, potato cake in Melbourne and Adelaide, and potato fritter in Perth. And God forbid you get it wrong.) It’s staying up to date on food and fashion and travel and design and entertainment news. It’s knowing the latest updates coming to different social media platforms and planning for those changes. It’s tracking trends and executing them in a novel way. It’s sharing insights with the team to inform future editorial content.

What skills have served you well in your industry?

Staying. Calm. Under. Pressure. Some days I’m having three separate Slack conversations with three different city editors about urgent stories that “need to be posted asap”. Time is always of the essence but with our flooded newsfeeds, being five minutes late to a story can really mean the difference between a couple of thousand clicks – or more. Another important skill – that I probably haven’t completely mastered – is the ability to emotionally detach myself from my work.

As is the nature of social media, it can quickly become a cesspit of unpleasant reader opinions. The comments section isn’t always a nice place to be – but it does help build resilience. A knack for clean, witty copy is crucial, too. Don’t over explain. Sometimes three carefully chosen words are all you need to get the message across.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a role like yours one day?

Internships are a great way to ‘try on’ the career you want to pursue. I was lucky enough to have the financial support to do a few internships when I was starting out – even one at Fashion Journal. The skills I learnt at each of these experiences were invaluable – from learning the tone of the brand to the evolution from commissioning a story to posting it on social media. Sitting in with the team and learning about the day-to-day activities of the business helped me understand the role I wanted to play in the process.

Let your newsfeed be a source of inspiration. Follow your favourite publishers, creators and brands. Absorb the content they create. Make notes on the things that grab your attention. Pitch those concepts in a way that feels on-brand for the company you aspire to work for.

The last is networking. And I don’t mean that in a shallow, what-can-I-get-out-of-this-connection way. But forming real connections with the people you work with is imperative – not just for your career progression but your sanity in what can sometimes be a pretty demanding industry. The right ones will become your biggest support – and greatest promoters.

What about a practical tip?

Never underestimate the power of a killer photo. Our editors and writers are forever producing enthralling pieces, but a story’s social media success relies largely on how gripping the accompanying image is. Think about what’s going to stop someone scrolling in their feed. Is it a hunky cross-section of a bagel? An endearing tiny house with a beautiful sunset backdrop? A mysterious shopfront on a street they recognise? Visuals first, words second. Especially on Instagram.

@steph_vigilante

Read the rest of the How I Got Here series here.

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