This Q&A is the sixth in a series of profiles on my blog. What’s the criteria, you ask? I think you’re cool and want to ask you questions. My co-worker, Jenn Pedde, and Kelly co-founded a weekly community manager (#cmgrchat), and the more I began to interact with Kelly, the more I realized how passionate she is about her role at Syracuse University. Plus, she’s a genuinely nice person to boot.
Everyone who either graduated from or works for Syracuse University is a die-hard fan of all things orange (see: Jenn Pedde). What is it about the school that breeds such fierce loyalty?
I would attribute it to a few things. One is our rich tradition and history — we’re steeped in it and our alumni are very good about coming back to campus and sharing their experiences. Then there is Syracuse sports, which is an entity unto itself, and we have rabid basketball, lacrosse and (yes) football fans. We’re a beautiful campus but a relatively small campus within the city limits, so once you’re up on “The Hill,” you’re really in an SU world, and I think people who have spent four years here really treasure that time as one of the best in their lives.
I’ve mentioned in the past how impressed I am by the School of Information Studies’ user-friendly website design, active blog and social media presence. In your role, what has been your biggest win and also biggest challenge?
A couple “wins” come immediately to mind. One is our blog, Information Space. We’ve taken it from literally no traffic in August 2011 to 40,000 page views this month. We’ve learned how to identify and work with student bloggers, reach out to start-ups to help them tell their stories, and to capture of-the-moment trends and topics that interest our readers. It’s been an exciting period of growth for us.
Second, I would point to our new space in the iSchool, which we officially call NEXIS (New Explorations in Information Science), and which has been dubbed our Social Media Starship. But there’s a lot more to NEXIS than social media. It’s really morphed into an idea incubator for the students who work closely with us. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to watch a student come up with an idea, build what they need to make it a reality and launch it. We’re very fortunate to have students with a wide variety of skills and interests on our team, so we can literally produce anything we can think up. That’s pretty awesome.
My biggest challenge in this job is keeping up with the rapid pace of news and information coming out of this school, and prioritizing what needs to be done. I think this is a common challenge for community managers in general. In my role, I feel like I do such a variety of things outside the community manager role that sometimes I feel like I’m falling down in the CM area when I have to focus on other things. But so far it’s worked out great, with me getting to be involved with some really amazing things that wouldn’t necessarily happen at a bigger organization. I feel like I’m working at a start-up sometimes.
What’s on your desk at work?
I usually have my MacBook Pro, a large Apple monitor, my iPhone, iPad, iPod (I think that’s it for the Apple promo) — everything is set up for notifications so stuff is buzzing and blowing up all day long. I’ve also got a retro orange swing-arm desk lamp from the ‘60s, a large glass jar of gumballs, a NASA sticker and a pencil holder full of Kate Spade and Vera Bradley pencils. My team makes fun of me for my pencils.
What was your first job?
My first job was picking strawberries at a local farm when I was, like, in 8th grade. I went with my best friend, and I ate more berries than I got paid for. That’s kind of the story of my life.
You and the school have been huge supporters of 140cuse. What do attendees have to look forward to during the event on April 19?
Wow, I don’t know where to start when talking about 140cuse! We have so many amazing speakers coming (I think close to 40 total), both well-known and unknown. I went to 140conf in NYC last June, and it literally blew me away. Jeff Pulver, the founder of 140, has an amazing concept here, and we are so lucky to be a part of it. I think the best part about 140 is the community building that happens before, during and after the conference. Jeff is very big on helping people connect once you get them all in one place, so that’s going to be part of what we’re trying to do in Syracuse.
Personally, I’m excited to meet some of the speakers like Amanda Hite (@sexythinker), who I really admire for her advocacy in the area of childhood hunger, and Alexis Ohanian (@kn0thing), founder of Reddit and Hipmunk, because I hope he’ll bring me a Hipmunk hoodie.
I’m also really looking forward to hanging out with some of our great alums and friends who will be in town for the event like Jenn Pedde, Sean Keeley, Lea Marino, Lauren Bertolini and Harrison Kratz. All great people.
You’re a self-professed Instagram addict, like myself. What appeals to you about the app? Favorite filter?
If I could only have one app on my phone it would, without question, be Instagram. I’m a huge fan of clean, elegant design in apps and a great UX — and IG fits both of those to a T. They don’t keep trying to change things and add things. It is what it is, and the tweaks that they have made haven’t upset the amazing ecosystem that has grown up around Instagram.
The absolute BEST thing about Instagram is the community. I wrote about this in my post “What is Instagram and Why is it So Popular?” back in January 2011. The IG community is engaged, supportive, generous, diverse and just super friendly. I’m not sure if it takes a certain type of person to be willing to share glimpses of their lives with strangers, but I think that when you use Instagram regularly you feel like you know something about these people, that if you met them you would have something to talk about. I learn something new about my connections on Instagram every day.
My favorite filter would have to be Lux filter, of course! Just kidding, but I really do like that — I was using the clarity feature on Camera+ to do basically the same thing before Instagram introduced Lux. I would have to say that it really depends on the photo; I just use what I think looks best. I spend an inordinate amount of time trying out different filters until I think it’s just right.
What are you most passionate about? (Bonus points for non-social media-related stuff.)
Probably music. Music is how I define different periods of my life; some of the best times I’ve ever had have been at concerts and music has sustained me through the worst times in my life. I’m a fan of a lot of different kinds of music, and I really want to learn to play electric guitar. I have a thing for guitar players, i.e. John Mayer.
Who do you look up to or see as a mentor, both personally and/or professionally?
On a personal level, I have a really great friend from when I worked at Anheuser-Busch, who is about the same age as my Mom, who I look to as a role model for the kind of life I want to have and person I want to be. She’s from New Hampshire, and I love her accent when she calls me “dahling.” She is such an ethical, loyal and caring person. She’s retired now, but is still doing new and exciting things, traveling a ton, taking care of her horses and working part time at a beautiful local winery. I could see myself doing those things when I retire someday, continuing to enjoy life.
Professionally, there are so many people I look up to. Some of those people I work with (Anthony Rotolo, Jenn Pedde) and some I just interact with or follow their work. There are SO many smart and super-creative people working in social media that it’s tough to narrow it down. But I have no problem saying that my social media idols are Brian Solis and Chris Brogan.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
That’s a tough question. I’ve had to learn a lot on my own because my family wasn’t big on giving advice. But I find that the older I get, the more I listen to advice, and try to follow what I think is right for me.
The one piece of advice I remember my mother giving me was “always be able to support yourself” and that is something I have definitely taken to heart. I always feel better about myself if I’m actively engaged in something I care about and making my own way in the world without someone propping me up. I think that’s a good lesson for women of all ages to learn, because it doesn’t necessarily go along with the fairytale we’re told as little girls.
Where can people find you online, both personally and professionally?
I’m @kellylux on Twitter and Instagram. I’m on G+ but haven’t been very active there lately, even though I feel like eventually I will be. I’m a big fan of Pinterest and you can also find me there. I’m the community manager for @iSchoolSU on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and G+ and (coming soon) Pinterest.
I do have a blog, but I don’t keep it up much because I manage Information Space, the iSchool blog, and when I have time to write, it’s for that. I’m also on LinkedIn, but I only accept people I’ve met or interacted with in a substantial way. And, of course, I’m on Facebook and welcome subscribers!