Monthly Archives: January 2014

Alumni Spotlight: Mike Mikho of Big Fuel

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If you’re interested in social media and content creation, chances are that you’ve heard of Big Fuel, a New York-based social media and branded content company. Using the tagline “from content to commerce,” Big Fuel fulfills the social media demands for large brands, including T-Mobile, Burger King, HBO, and Aflac. They boast their ability to, “combine brand messaging and strategy with entertainment value and cultural relevance (and to) deliver guaranteed and measurable consumer engagement for some of the biggest brands in the world.” 

We caught up with Mike Mikho, business development and account lead, to learn more about agency life, the inner-workings of this growing industry, and what his degree from the University of Michigan means to him.

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#UMsocial: How would you describe a day-in-the-life at your office?

Mike: “Agency life, generally speaking, is pretty fast-paced. Within digital, it’s a little quicker (and) with social it is especially fast, including the rate at which the conversation changes. For most of our clients, if something happens in the news or if there is a holiday, they need to be able to react to what people are saying at the drop of a hat. A story could be relevant today, and tomorrow no one cares…we have to move very quickly in order to keep pace with consumers. From a business development perspective, we need to always show how fast we work, even when we aren’t working (directly) with a client.”

#UMsocial: What do hours look like on a typical day?

Mike: “Most agencies run from 9-9:30am to 6-6:30pm, but stuff is always expected from you outside of these office hours. If I’m pitching to a new client, I’ve been at work until midnight. If you’re up against a deadline for a client, then your day ends when the work is done. It can get pretty intensive.”

#UMsocial: What about the size of the Big Fuel team?

Mike: “At any agency, you’re generally going to be staffed pretty lean. An agency can’t have ten people (sitting around) that aren’t being productive. So you’re always going to have people that are very busy. You always have the need to get things done as quickly as possible.”

#UMsocial: So what brought you to the digital marketing world? What interested you in this type of work? 

Mike: “I kind of fell into it. I wanted to do something sales oriented when I left college, and I got a job in business development at a media agency. I had never really worked (in the industry) or really thought about advertising before. After a job there and a job at a competitor, another media agency, my current agency, reached out to me on LinkedIn, and said they were looking for someone to work in business development. Obviously I had to learn the industry, but I just sort of fell into it. I didn’t have a background in digital.”

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#UMsocial: As a University of Michigan alum, how do you think your Michigan experience helped prepare you for the workforce?

Mike: “When you graduate from Michigan, you do get a degree that every single employer the world-round respects, and you have a huge alumni network in every major city. From that regard, my Michigan degree was extremely helpful. But when you get into the real world, you just have to learn everything by practice…in the marketing and agency world, you have to learn the agency landscape. That’s not something that you can learn in the classroom, no matter what school you go to.”

#UMsocial: Were you involved with any groups on campus that helped you gain experience for this type of work?

Mike: “I had a job at the Michigan Tele-fund, and being in a position where you had to cold-call alumni and ask for money was the best experience that anyone can get for a sales job. If you can convince someone to give you money over the phone without getting anything in return, you can sell anything. That (experience) was very relevant.”

#UMsocial: What advice do you have for students at UMich who are trying to land a digital or social media marketing internship?

Mike: “I would say a couple of things. Make sure that your own public social channels are professional. Make sure that you have a great LinkedIn and that your Twitter is public, and you are posting things that you wouldn’t mind an employer seeing. Make your Facebook private! It cannot possibly help you. It can prevent you from getting a job. When applying for jobs…you have to find out who the hiring manager is (and) follow up like crazy. We live in a world where that is very easy! You can go on LinkedIn, search the company you applied for, and find their numbers…it really does come down to how badly you want it. If you take a backseat approach to getting your own job, you will be unemployed for awhile.”

#UMsocial: When hiring for this industry, what qualities or characteristics would you look for in candidates? 

Mike: “It depends on what their role is. If it’s an account manager role…you want someone who is organized, obviously it is very important to have someone who is bright and can function on their own. Employers want to make sure that when they hire someone they aren’t spending their time doing that person’s job…and (that they) don’t have to be micro-managed…if you are professional, well-spoken, and confident in your interview, that goes leaps and bounds. If you can find out how to liken your experience to the job, that’s important as well. The reality is that you can always make your experience sound relevant, no matter what you did…but I really think that the biggest thing is being smart, confident, and poised in the interview.”

To learn more about Mike, follow him on Twitter @mikemikho.

University of Michigan Partners with Pinterest for Place Pins Launch

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Pinterest has been our breakout channel of the year. Boasting nearly 2400% growth, we see the longest post-life on this channel, and the highest conversion rates from our other channels. This year, we redesigned our page, bringing in new boards such as Michigan Pets, Future Wolverines, True Blue Weddings, #UMInstagram, Quotable, and Michigan DIY, adopting many of the most engaging topics on Pinterest and aligning our strategy with the purpose and demographic of the platform, which is 84% women.

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Prior to the launch of Place Pins, Pinterest reached out to us to partner with them, considering UMich to have a deep understanding of the platform. We saw this as a unique opportunity to showcase our campus and alumni community, in order to fill necessary gaps in our Pinterest presence.

Our first board, Tour #UMich, is a campus-themed board aimed at prospective students who are looking to get a sense of campus before they visit, or if they are unable to schedule a tour prior to applying. Ed Tech Magazine summed it up as:

The virtual tour provides an informative and engaging experience. It’s a tool that today’s teenagers will find intuitive and helpful. As users browse the page, they can click through to resources on the university’s website. It’s an innovative way to present information that hasn’t been easily accessible in the past.

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Our second board, Wolverines around the World, emphasizes the true reach of our student and alumni community, and their loyalty and spirit for the University. With fans often sending us photos via email, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, this board is a collection of everywhere in the world the Block M has traveled. Having Place Pins everywhere from South Africa to the North Pole, we are excited to continue seeing the great things our students and alumni are doing around the world!

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So far, our Tour #UMich board has been our second-most followed on the platform, closing in on #UMInstagram. We hope to continue to direct our prospective students to this board, and would love to see it embedded on a few of our UMich sites when the feature is available. This way, we can drive more traffic to the page and inform students in an innovative way. When analyzing our Pin activity, we have noticed that the most engaging time for us to pin is Sundays at 5pm. On this day, our Repins are 20% higher than average, and at the time of day, 60% above average.

We have found Place Pins to be the perfect addition to our Pinterest presence, and strive to find new and creative ways to utilize all the Pinterest has to offer.

Making a Place Board is simple. Create a board and turn on the ‘Map’ feature:

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Next, start Pinning! You can ‘add a place’ to your map, search, and select photos from others, or upload your own.

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You can also add Pins to your board from around the web, or upload your own photos, and then add it to your map later by clicking the + sign:

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Overall, Pinterest has proven to be a great tool for marketing for a University. While every department, unit, college, and even University is very different, each can find unique ways to utilize all that Pinterest has to offer. We do our best to cater to the audience on Pinterest, the interests and categories that are popular, while staying true to the University of Michigan branding, spirit, and academic excellence.