Instructor Spotlight

Carla Birnberg launched her popular blog, MizFitOnline, in 2007, where she shared health and fitness knowledge with humor and ease. She quickly became known for jettisoning gym workouts in favor of “PLAYouts” with her daughter. She has since expanded her site, CarlaBirnberg.com, to cover everything from personal development to motherhood with the same accessible voice. Carla’s engaging, keep-it-real advice has been featured in Runner’s World, Women’s Day, The Wall Street Journal, Fitness, Ladies Home Journal, Glamour, Women’s Health, Yahoo!, Shape.com and more. She was Fila brand’s inaugural Spokesmom, and is a consultant to Venus Williams, who identified her a social media influencer.

Named a “Twitter Powerhouse” by The Huffington Post, Stephanie Carls shares her passion for social media and technology online and focuses on the ways both are changing the way we live and share information. As a digital lifestyle enthusiast, Stephanie shares her favorite products, helps navigate new apps, and offers tech tips. Stephanie is the Client Success Manager with Rivet Works, Inc. in Austin, Texas. Her strong social media background gives clients the expert recommendations they are looking for to make their campaigns a success. Visit her website to learn more about her.

On Saturday, February 28, Carla and Stephanie will teach a class for the Writers’ League called “Social Media for Authors” at St. Edward’s University. Read the interview below and visit the class page to learn more.

Carla Birnberg hdshtStephanieCarls

Scribe: What is the advantage of using social media in the professional world? 

Carla Birnberg: It’s funny, given the world in which I’ve worked since 2001, I can’t imagine not finding social media tremendously useful. A site like LinkedIn can be immeasurably helpful with regards to networking, job finding, and simply staying current in whatever field you’re currently employed. Even careers which were more traditionally offline—doctors, dentists, realtors—have begun using social media to reach their consumers/customers where they already are. For me that’s really the bottom line, no matter one’s profession: find and reach out to your consumers where they already are. And where they already are, for the most part, is on social media.

Stephanie Carls: It has definitely improved networking. I can meet people I never would have met before. It also makes it easier to maintain relationships and keep up with a large number of people. Business networking was a completely different world before social media.

Scribe: Do both of you believe that social media is useful in all fields? Even in the traditional print media world?

CB: I touched on this a bit in the first question, but my answer is an unequivocal yes. I’ve worked with numerous publications—Shape Magazine, Fast Company, Entrepreneur—who consistently work to promote their current print issue in social media. Most of my favorite writers use the same approach. Harnessing the power of Twitter, for example, to remind followers of an upcoming publication date or using the visual power of Instagram to share book covers pre-release.

SC: If you’re a news network, for example, you’ve harnessed the digital medium. However, once your content has been used it dies. With social media, your content can continue to live on. In addition, social media helps you build a community around the content; people can rally around certain topics and share ideas. I think it can help with books as well, because the author can build an image around themselves online. An author is able to put forth the image that they are the expert in their field, and people will be attracted to that.

Scribe: How has having a strong writing mind helped you in terms of your profession but also in your everyday life?

CB: Here is where I disclose I am laughing a tiny bit and hoping my answers above indicate I do indeed, have a strong writing mind. More than being gifted with words, I’m grateful I can think quickly on my feet and can write a fairly strong first draft. This has helped me tremendously in content-creating for brands where there are often very quick turnarounds and deadlines. This gift has been invaluable as a blogger where new content is expected on a daily basis, and has proven to be lucrative in social media. The ability to think quickly and write eloquently on one’s feet is definitely important in fast paced platforms like Twitter.

SC: Whether you’re publishing blogs or making videos, all that matters is that you’re getting your message across. Social media is helpful with catching people’s attention, but the writing skills are key in actually keeping the attention. You can use social media to put out attention-grabbing headlines, but you need the writing skills to write those headlines in the first place.

Scribe: Carla, What have you learned about yourself from blogging? Were you surprised by anything you found?

CB: I began blogging back in 2001. It was a paid opportunity, (back then we just called them online journals) and everyone thought we were crazy for sharing our innermost thoughts on the Internet. Flash forward 14 years and it seems everyone has a blog. I’ve learned so much about myself through this process, and I’ve also married and added a child along the way. More than anything I’ve learned this: I possess the ability to create a unique and compelling personal brand. I am resilient. While the skills I use have remained the same, writing etc., I’ve learned how important it is to remain fluid in my approach to blogging and my career. Things have changed tremendously since I first started, but at the same time everything remains the same. It’s important to be consistent, authentic, and organic in all that I do online. It (blogging, social media, etc.) completely parallels life.

Scribe: Stephanie, like Carla’s, your website offers a strong video component. Does your writing voice come across in the video format?

SC: I almost write as if I’m speaking into the camera. I don’t go into the video-making process to spout off a lot of high level stuff, instead I focus on making my information short and sweet. I want my content to be easy to relate to, so that everyone can be on the same level. I think the mediums are very similar in that sense.

Scribe: Carla, on your blog you offer a multimedia approach to branding yourself, including videos along with the traditional blog post format. Is this essential for the modern-day blogger?

CB: While I wouldn’t say it’s essential, I do think it keeps you growing as a brand and consistently meet your new fan/follower/readers where they already are. I prefer to consume my information through the written word, so it would be easy for me to rely only on this approach when constructing my blog brand. That said, many people prefer to connect with a writer by video and then continue on and consume her content through the written word. Others prefer to connect in a more auditory fashion and have found me through my podcast and only later begin reading my blog. I’m very careful not to become a jack-of-all-trades and master of none—there are more than a few social media platforms I have chosen not to participate in—but I do believe it’s important to offer a few different formats for followers to consume the content we are creating.

Scribe: Stephanie, you focus heavily on making sense of technology in the digital age. Do you have any tips for writers when it comes to engaging with new technology?

SC: You should focus on that you know you will be good at. Don’t try to jump into all social media platforms at once, it’s better to be active on a few than barely present on many. Also, if you’re stressed out trying to reach all of the platforms, that will show in your content.

–Thanks Carla & Stephanie

To register for this class, click here.

For a complete list of upcoming classes, click here.

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