Growing up, Katherine Hernandez Miller stopped in Hot Topic stores to browse their CD selection and get music recommendations from the staff. Now, Katherine has gone from being a customer at the music and pop culture retail chain to working for them as the company’s social media manager. Overseeing the brand’s social media platforms, Katherine spends her time brainstorming creative and fun ways to engage with and grow Hot Topic and its sister stores’ online following. Using apps like Snapchat and Instagram, Katherine is the woman behind the posts Hot Topic fans like and share.
Q.Describe a typical “Day in the Life” at your job?
My tasks change every day but usually include checking emails and touching base with my boss, who is the VP of marketing. I look at what worked yesterday; what did we post, how did it do, then I look at what we are going to do today and see if that’s still going to work. I also could be working on campaigns. If we have a campaign coming up, I need to figure out what all those elements will be, if there will be sweepstakes, a video, what kind of content, etc. I work with our legal team to make sure everything is compliant. I check to see if there are any customer service issues - I read our Facebook wall comments to see what everyone is talking about. I also check what’s trending on Twitter or Facebook to see if there is anything we can play into.
Q. What are the fun aspects of your job?
I think the fun part is creating and telling stories. For example, brainstorming what our Snapchat story is going to look like. I also like working on campaigns and sweepstakes. We did something for Wonder Woman where people could tell us who their Wonder Woman is and it would create an image that said, “My Wonder Woman is so and so” and then they could share it and enter a sweepstakes to win a trip to San Diego Comic-Con.
Q. What other campaigns or sweepstakes have you worked on?
We also did a campaign for Suicide Squad. At the beginning of the movie the characters are in prison, so I thought it would be fun to let people create their own prison badge ID to be part of the Suicide Squad. I created an app with a developer, where users could go in and upload their picture and create their nickname or alias. It would give the participant an image of a prison ID badge and it would have their picture, name and alias. We would then randomly assign them a crime and length of prison time. I liked that one. I did a really fun one during the holidays two years ago. We made a webpage that had an advent calendar and there were different squares cropped out of it. Everyday there would be a new prize to win. Participants had to repost it on Instagram to enter.
Q. Were you on social media in high school?
It’s funny because I don’t think there really was social media at the time. I graduated high school in 2005 so there was MySpace, but it didn’t become a thing until my junior or senior year. Before that it was all about websites. I was building websites, learning HTML and graphic design. It wasn’t until the middle of my college time that social media started becoming a thing. However, for people in high school now, I would definitely say be on social media. Those interested in working with social media in the future don’t have to have thousands of followers or be a YouTube celebrity, just be familiar with how it works. They should be active on their personal account as much as possible in order to understand the patterns of different users. By doing so, those interested in this career can figure out the tendencies of the average person who don’t care about social media marketing. From there, social media managers can figure out how to tap into their needs.
Q. Can you tell me more about the websites you've built?
The summer before high school everyone was using LiveJournal and Friendster. I was actually making my own blog instead of using a site like LiveJournal. I built my own because I wanted to make it look pretty and customized. I also wanted to control more of the features. I made a lot of music sites, including Backstreet Boys fan websites, etc. I know that’s kind of embarrassing but I’m not going to lie, that was my passion.
Q. Can you tell me about a time when a post went wrong?
When Instagram wasn’t really as big as it is now, I didn’t have a company phone. I had one phone and I would log in as either Hot Topic or as myself depending on what I was doing. If it was the weekend I’d be logged in as myself. So I went to Target and I decided I wanted to buy sunglasses and I took a picture of myself in two pairs of sunglasses. I put it into a grid and I posted it on what I thought was my own Instagram. I said, ‘Which glasses look better?’ As soon as I hit post, I noticed it was Hot Topic’s Instagram. So, right away I went in and deleted it. Back then we had a small following so it didn’t matter. I don’t think anyone saw it and if they did they didn’t have a chance to screenshot it.
If I did that now, it would probably have a ton of comments and likes and it would be really bad, but that instance was pretty funny and it scared me and it definitely taught me a lesson. I then asked for a company phone!
Q. What do you like to do outside of work?
I like spending time with my family and hanging out with my dog. I’m actually starting my own blog just about social media so I’m kind of a nerd. I haven’t had a whole lot of time to dedicate to it. My first post I did and my only post so far was a social media calendar template. I’m trying to give tools to people who want a career in social media marketing,whether they’re beginners or advanced users.
A lot of my family members have small businesses, and when you have a small business you don’t have a whole lot of money to do marketing or advertising. I think one of the things people forget about is how easy it is to reach people on social media, whether it’s through Facebook advertising or organic posting, and it’s cost efficient. I want my blog to help teach small businesses how they can use social media to grow their business.
Written By Payge Woodard
Payge Woodard (@paygewoodard) is a freelance journalist living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Passionate about learning to dig deeper into a story, she recently completed her master’s in investigative and data journalism at the University of King’s College. When she isn't working on a story, you can find her watching reruns on Netflix.