This latest edition of People You Should Know features Seattle’s own Erica May, West Coast Director for Ignite Social Media. Enjoy and thanks Erica! 

You recently hopped over from REI and are now Ignite’s West Coast Director. Tell us what an “average” work day looks like for you and what keeps you thriving even on rainy, overcast days. 

Erica May

I love my job because there’s never an average day.  Most days I’m working on East coast hours from the West coast to collaborate with my team in Raleigh, but occasionally I’ll “sleep in” when I’m headed to a networking event at night. I’m also really lucky to work at Ignite because we have such a diverse range of clients. I get pulled into strategy and brainstorming meetings that range from social media to mobile strategy on a different topic every week.  I’m also in a really fun and challenging place because I get to help shape what our office looks like out in Seattle. In addition, I’m also heading up our mobile team. 

I don’t have time to worry about the weather. I’m at a place in my life where I like to take on everything. I am working on my Masters of Communication at University of Washington, I teach mobile strategy classes at the Seattle School of Visual Concepts, I help local nonprofits with their social strategies, I am going to start helping with logistics for the Seattle Social Media Club and I just did my first triathlon.  Getting up at 5am has the advantage of being able to go hiking with my dog, mountain biking, kayaking or snowboarding when everyone else is still working.

From double…and even triple rainbows to Old Spice, Steven Slater and beyond, social media opens a huge avenue for people to focus efforts specifically around generating attention via remixes, spin-offs and yes, even mockery of original content. What steps do you think are key to ensuring a brand proactively plans for the potential “second wave” of attention, be it good or bad? 

There’s a few exceptions, but I think the most memorable and viral videos are usually created on accident.  It’s challenging to try to take organic material and turn it into something that the world is going to accept when you’re a big brand.  Recently Microsoft pushed out a spin-off of the double rainbow video to promote Windows Live Photo Gallery.  It was on the homepage of Yahoo, there was a write up on Mashable and it got a ton of coverage all across the internet.  It may not all appear to be all positive, but I’ll tell you what… a lot more people now know about Windows Live Photo Gallery and the photo stitching feature.  It’s hard to offer any steps to success here because it’s really about the particular brand in my eyes and carefully strategizing what makes sense. 

At REI, you must have done some pretty cool stuff like tweeting upside down while scaling a mountain sans safety ropes, right?! Or maybe just while wingsuit jumping? Any good adventurous social media moments? 

REI is such an easy brand to love.  Our stores were a prehistoric version of Facebook. People walk through the doors and instantly feel a sense of community.  I was so lucky to have a part in translating that component of the brand to the internet, social networks and mobile.  Every single day was an adventure working there.  There were people slack lining, biking, doing yoga, playing volleyball and running all the time.  The employees really lived the brand, and my co-workers pushed me to do a lot of things.  

During my first “Bike to Work” month I wondered how I was realistically going to get from Issaquah to Kent on a bicycle, but three months later I did my first century.  I believe it’s really important to work for a company you can really stand behind that also pushes you to be better and (most importantly) one that lets you have fun.  I also thrive on having teammates that challenge me and teach my at least nine things everyday.  REI was all of those things, and when I decided that it was time to make a career move I looked for those same things, and that’s why I’m at Ignite. 

Some fun things I got to do at REI were to write a blog post that featured my dog, Kiwi and to be in our standup paddleboarding video. It is one thing to run a YouTube page, but it’s a whole other thing to be able to be in the content that you’re pushing out.  It’s things like that which make REI such an authentic brand. 

I’m continually impressed with Seattle’s nonprofit community. Any that you work or volunteer with that stand out in your mind? 

An organization I really love is EarthCorps.  They bring people together from around the world to Seattle to do environmentally focused projects.  Outdoors for All and Girls on the Run are also two of my favorite nonprofits.  No matter what hobby or passion you have there’s a nonprofit in Seattle to volunteer at. That’s incredible. Volunteering will always be a huge part of my life. I can do all the things I love, share those things with others at the same time and have an impact on so many people.  Everyone reading this should make an effort to spend at least an hour a month donating their time to a nonprofit.  It’s such a small amount of time, but can make such a difference. 

Connect with Erica via her blog
Follow her on Twitter (@ericaannemay)
Learn more about Ignite Social Media

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Marketing, Nonprofits, People You Should Know, Social Media


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