Brooke VanKleeckApplied Interactive is expanding its staff and welcoming some new members who are poised to set unprecedented standards in web marketing. In this ongoing series, we’re introducing you to these creative, passionate, and extremely talented individuals and learning a little bit about the people who are the heart and soul of our team.

Brooke recently joined the team at AI, and so far the transition has been a breeze! Her experience with operating a self-made business via social media has made it easy for her to jump in and start providing excellent social media maintenance for our clients. Brooke fits right in with our group of creative professionals. We sat down with her to get a more complete picture of our newest member.

What is your name and position here?

BV: My name is Brooke VanKleeck and I am the social media manager at Applied Interactive (AI).

What does a social media manager do?

BV: I take care of all the clients social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram—pretty much anywhere you would find the company online on social media—that’s me. I write posts, engage with followers, and keep their digital presence well maintained. Some of it is more technical, like making sure the information about the company is accurate, and some is a little more creative, like responding to comments or finding new articles to share with followers. A lot of people don’t realize that a strong social media presence is a key factor in search ranking as well as a great tool for building a robust brand with a loyal following.

A lot of people have social media accounts like a personal Facebook or Twitter and think That’s a dream job! I could do that! How is directing a corporate media presence different from having a personal account?

BV: You always want to make sure your presence online is strictly professional—you never want to say something that could make the company look bad and you want to make sure all the posts are consistent. It can’t be so casual that it looks like two people are writing it, especially if that voice changes. You have to be able to match the tone and level of professionalism the client wants to present. And you have to be thoughtful about each post. On a private account, if you say something that could be misinterpreted, you can simply delete it and move on—with corporate accounts there can be serious consequences for a tone-deaf or unintentionally offensive post or reply, so you have to think everything through as if you were a customer.

What were your first impressions of AI?

BV: It seemed like a good place to work. Obviously we are professional, and we do our jobs well, but it’s more relaxed than some jobs I’ve had. It’s easy to get along with coworkers and handle scheduling. We work for multiple clients every day but it’s well organized so it’s never too chaotic or more than we can handle. And I was really excited about the dogs. There are a lot of dogs. I’m not able to have one at home, so I can come to work and have lots of little furry friends.

What sparked your interest in marketing and social media?

BV: My degree is in intercultural interpersonal communications, so social media and marketing are great applications for it—especially since some of our clients have a multinational or global presence. Social media wasn’t exactly where I had planned on applying my education, since my focus was directed more toward marketing than social media management, but it’s a great start on the career path I want to take.

Where do you see that career path leading?

BV: I don’t even know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow, okay? In all seriousness, some of the most important things I’ve learned on this journey so far are to be flexible, learn everything I possibly can, and know when to plan and when to let events unfold naturally. I think I’m in a great position here to learn about a lot of different aspects of marketing, and I’m staying open to all the possibilities that will come from that experience.

Describe one part of your daily routine you cannot live without.

BV: Coffee!

That’s been everyone’s first answer! This team is obviously fuelled by caffeine.

BV: Coffee and petting my cat!

What makes AI a great match for you?

BV: We’re all similar types of people; we grew up in a digital age learning the technology as it evolved. If there’s something I don’t know, there’s definitely someone else nearby who can help teach me the right way to do it, particularly when it comes to more technical web development or SEO projects, which I haven’t had a lot of experience with yet. We all just get along really well—it’s a good group of people.

What goals do you hope to accomplish?

BV: While getting my degree, I didn’t really cover a lot of technical marketing, so I’m looking forward to learning about the more complex aspects of the industry. A lot of the SEO skills I’m learning now are skills that can take me further in marketing, so I’d like to continue with that.

What previous experiences have been useful to you in your endeavors here?

BV: Well, running my own Facebook-based business definitely helped a lot. I tried to just “wing it” initially and it steered me in the right direction. I had read enough to grasp the basic concepts of what I was doing, even if I was inexperienced. It really drove me to learn more, and now those skills have evolved into a career path.

What kind of business did you run?

BV: I sell costume hoodies and do everything from consult and design to marketing and sales online. It’s a combination of time management and customer service, as well as understanding and communicating with my customers. I’ve learned how to work with other people and listen to what they’re saying. They might come to me with a half-formed idea and I’ll have to take whatever they have and turn it into a fully developed product they will enjoy.

How do you unwind in your free time?

BV: I do a lot of photography, especially fashion photoshoots for my friends. I do cosplay, I play videogames, I read books, and I watch way too much Netflix.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

BV: When I was really little, I wanted to write and illustrate my own books . . . and then I realized I wasn’t very good at drawing. But I got into photography and sewing, and it all snowballed from there.

If you could go back in time to the day of your high school graduation and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you say?

BV: College is not the end of the world. Everybody seems to think you get to college and immediately know what you’re going to do, and if you don’t know from the second you step foot on campus, you’ll never find a direction in life. You can get a degree in something and end up in a career that is totally unrelated. Don’t be afraid to learn and change things, even if it’s not in your original plan.

Any advice for someone aspiring to a career in social media?

BV: Be careful what you post online! Things are not nearly as private as you think they are. Even on your own page, be thoughtful—you never know who is reading, and that can affect future opportunities. Being aware of how people will read and respond to your posts is great practice for a career in social media.