A Social Media Marketing Anthropologist

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For me, becoming a community manager/social media marketer had its roots in one, brief conversation with my freshman advisor, just before spring semester in my first year of college. We were talking about what classes I was planning on taking, why I had chosen them, and what I intended to declare as my “concentration” (my school’s fancy word for “major”) by the end of the semester. I had started college planning to concentrate in Linguistics—a field I thought would be the perfect expression of the love of languages I’d developed in high school. In this conversation with my advisor, however, we were looking to fill the fourth slot in my transcript—an elective or perhaps the beginning of a secondary field for me. I was 18, and it seemed like my career options were endless.

The question he asked was extremely open-ended. “What kinds of things are you interested in?” But it got my mind racing … what wasn’t I interested in? After a minute or two, I finally came to the conclusion that I’d always been interested in people. After a bit more discussion, he recommended a Social Anthropology (the study of people and culture) introductory course and sent me on my way. I ended up loving the class and declared at the end of the semester in Anthropology, in the Social Anthropology track. The best part was that I got to study many different fields, all through the lens of how various people and cultures operate. I learned to appreciate how differently communities operate in different cultures and on different platforms—something I’ve always carried with me in the research & marketing roles I’ve held since then.

With my newly social anthropology degree in hand, I set out to explore the world of social media & community management and haven't looked back.

With my new social anthropology degree in hand, I set out to explore the world of social media & community management and haven’t looked back.

After learning the basics of PR and Social Media Marketing at my first full-time job, I transitioned into Market Research for a period of time, where I did mostly qualitative research for big brands. The format of the research I did was pretty unique: small, private online communities that emphasized active participation, quality responses, and being invested in the brands’ futures. I missed doing actual marketing, though (and being able to use Twitter at the office!), so I started looking for opportunities in social media marketing.

When I stumbled upon my current role at uberVU, doing social marketing and managing community for a technology company that made software for other social media marketers, my anthropologist instinct kicked in: I had found the perfect opportunity to combine social media, marketing, community, and learning about a group of people (other social marketers) while getting to be a part of it at the same time. Needless to say, I’m learning A LOT in this role, and getting to geek out about social media & community on a daily basis is a huge perk! It’s all very meta, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Elisabeth Michaud

Social Media Marketing & Community Manager at uberVU
Elisabeth is a Social Media Marketing & Community Manager at uberVU, a real-time social media marketing platform. She calls Boston her offline home, and when she’s not busy tweeting you can find her exploring the city, trying new recipes, and collaborating with friends at Marketing On The Rocks.
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Helena Virga
Helena Virga

Your story inspired me! I too love anthropology and have mastered new media skills with my degree in advertising/PR. I am currently looking for a job that fulfills me in a way such as yours, and I just wanted to let you know that reading this gave me a little more hope.


Helllo, Elizabeth!

It's great that you found your passion! My concentration is business marketing and i'm minoring in anthropology. I'm also very interested in people and really want to find the connection between marketing and anthropology. I have an anthropology course this semester "Fieldwork Methods" that requires me to do, well... fieldwork and I really want to do a project related to business, especially social media. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations? 


@TheAmazingSalah Hi Salah--thanks for your question! That sounds like a fun opportunity to do some research. Have you considered doing fieldwork with your topic being a company, or department within a larger organization, that uses an internal social network to communicate? I'm thinking of the many companies that use tools like Yammer to communicate across teams and geographies. Could be a good place to look!

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