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Ways We Work

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Frankie Greek

Snapchat Journalist, Host & Social Media Manager

Frankie Greek is a Snapchat journalist, host and social media manager working and living in New York city. You may recognize her from the Fuse TV Snapchat or as the previous host for the Shorty Awards weekly Snapchat show. She was also responsible for launching the Times Square Ball's own Snapchat account. With a background in broadcast journalism and live TV/radio, Frankie shares her path to working in cutting-edge media formats. She shares her authentic and honest insights into social media and influencer marketing and the awareness she has of her own career path is inspiring. For those of us navigating and often crafting our own careers, this interview is full of insight and inspiration.

Special thanks to Igloo and InVision for sponsoring Ways We Work for the month of September and making these interviews possible!

Tell me a little bit more about what work looks like for you right now.

I’m a freelancer, and I focus on social media consulting. Fuse TV is my main gig right now, so I’m there most of the week. That typically looks like four days in their office but I’ve also been lucky to cover events for them. For example, I covered Coachella, EDC New York and Gov Ball.

I've worked in social media for just over two years, and this is the first time I’ve worked on accounts that are really heavily into media publishing and music, which is great. I work alongside our video team, using Snapchat to connect with artists in a fun and more digestible way. There’s an audience there that cares about it and will watch, which is really cool. Previously, I was also working freelance for the Shorty Awards, which is an award show that honors the best in social media.

How did you end up getting into a role like that?

My background is in radio and television, so before I moved to New York I co-hosted and produced a morning talk show for radio. When I moved to New York I met my roommate Nik on Craigslist and she happened to be one of the producers for the Shorty Awards. They were looking for someone to take over their Snapchat for the awards show in 2015 and they asked me to do it. I’d never really done anything like that before, but I had lots of experience with live TV and radio, so I wanted to see what could be done. I did quick 10-second interviews with talent as they came down the red carpet and people seemed to love it. It was really successful because we were interviewing people that the younger audience on Snapchat cares about, like Tyler Oakley and Brendon Urie from Panic at the Disco. People were screenshotting the snaps and sharing them on Twitter and Instagram saying, “this is on the Shorty Awards Snapchat right now!”

After that mini viral moment, they asked me to stay on and run their social part-time. Part of that involved hosting a weekly Snapchat talk show on their account that was all about social media and technology. I’d talk about what was trending, new app updates, and who my new favourite person to follow on Snapchat and Instagram was, etc. It was something I put a ton of time into and over the year and a half that I did that is when I really started to build a following. The show was something people could rally around, it was this consistent once a week thing. The audience got really invested, they started pitching me on topics, what they wanted me to talk about and caring about who was on the show with me and what co-host they wanted me to have.

One day people who watched the show decided they wanted me to co-host with Gary Vaynerchuk. I thought, “Yeah, sure. That’s a pipe dream.” People were tweeting and Snapchatting me, and it grew into something big. I started talking about it more and people got really excited. They were making Twitter graphics and Instagram flyers and photoshopping pictures of me and Gary using the hashtag I’d created #shortysnapwithgary.

It turned out that a handful of people who worked at VaynerMedia watched the show, so there were some people working on it from that end and he finally agreed to do it. It took three months and the hashtag #shortysnapwithgary had over 25,000 impressions on it. That experience was awesome because it reminded me that I wasn’t just talking into the abyss, it was more than me having this app on my phone talking to myself all day - people were really into it.

“I think people still have this idea that doing social media and getting to work with brands is this glitzy, glamourous thing where people are just paying you to be yourself. And maybe that is the case for some people, I can only speak for myself and that’s not the case. It’s a collaborative process, it’s a lot of me knowing my own worth, pitching myself and telling brands what I can do for them.”

What are some of the major aspects of the work you do that you don't think people realize are part of the job?

That’s a really good question. A large part of what I do is so undefined and it can be a challenge to communicate what it is that I do. My LinkedIn says that I’m a host, a Snapchat journalist, and a social media manager. It sounds all over the place and I wish there was a way to condense it. Until Snapchat, live video, and social media are more understood, I need to do a little bit of everything.

When it comes to being a social media manager and my day-to-day, that’s a desk job. That’s scheduling tweets, writing copy, looking at analytics and researching influencers. I don’t show a lot of that on Snapchat, so a lot of people end up thinking I don’t have a day job, which I find hilarious [laughs]. As far as my work as an “influencer” on Snapchat, I’ve been hired to do a bunch of takeovers for different brands, which I really enjoy. Snapchat was originally an outlet for me, it came naturally and was really fun. At this point in my career, I’m not prepared to say , “I’m a Snapchatter now. This is my main source of income.” Then I would have to start selling random things and doing weird campaigns that don’t make sense for me. I’ve actually never promoted anything on my personal Snapchat that I got paid for. When people hire me, they usually hire me to do takeovers and I always look for gigs that are event based and have an opportunity to tell a story or share an experience versus shilling a product.

One thing I don’t think people know is that there are two ways of looking at Snapchat and Snapchat influencers. I’m in the category of influencers or creators where people hire me because of a skill that I have, and they want me to use that skill for them. People don’t necessarily hire me because of my audience. They’re not always trying to spend against the audience I’ve built, but that does become an asset when promoting. Those are two very different things.

We’re in a bubble with social media influencers and influencer marketing and it’s probably about to pop. There are over 2,000 YouTube accounts that have over a million followers - that’s insane. I think people still have this idea that doing social media and getting to work with brands is this glitzy, glamorous thing where people are just paying you to be yourself. And maybe that is the case for some people, I can only speak for myself when I say that’s not the case. It’s a collaborative process, it’s a lot of me knowing my own worth, pitching myself and telling brands what I can do for them, what stories I want to tell and what events I want to cover. I have had a lot of brands reach out to me and I’m very lucky in that sense, sometimes I get to run around music festivals and hang out with really cool people. But, it’s a lot of work, and it’s a lot of having an idea and convincing people to get on board with it.

“I'm definitely interested to see where my career takes me, like a lot of people, I still can't say what I do in a sentence. I can't say what I do in 140 characters. It's difficult, but it's also really exciting. I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.”

I'd love to know a little bit more about your career path to what you're doing now? It seems that more and more people are building these careers for themselves that didn't even exist five years ago.

I always knew that I wanted to do something in the realm of public speaking. Originally, in high school I was convinced I wanted to go into politics, I thought that was something you could do where you'd get paid to talk [laughs]. As I got older I had a more firm idea that I wanted to do something in media and journalism. So I went to school for broadcast journalism and was positive that I was going to graduate and go into TV news and that was going to be my life and be the next Giuliana Rancic. Everything I did was working towards that.

In college, I co-hosted a show for my University’s TV station called The U, which was a spin-off of The View. I did that for a couple of years and then did various internships in TV and radio. One Summer I did an internship with a local news station in my hometown. I went to Penn State and that was the summer of the Jerry Sandusky trial, so I got to go with them to work on that trial for the news station. That was an insane experience, I saw first hand how live news happens. Pennsylvania is one of the states in the US where you can’t have cameras in the courtroom. It was really interesting to see how the reporters would be in the courtroom for 8 hours of the day, walk outside, and then just go live and re-tell everything that had happened.

I was always very into social media. Tumblr first, when I was in college and through Tumblr found a bunch of YouTubers that I really latched onto, namely Grace Helbig. I’ve almost started a YouTube channel so many times, and I just never had the confidence because I thought it would be embarrassing to just sit and talk to yourself, which is hilarious because that’s literally what I do now [laughs].

After I graduated I took a job at a radio station and co-hosted their morning talk show and ran their internship program. It was a very small station that was going through a lot of changes, so I had a unique opportunity to jump in and wear a lot of different hats. It was trial by fire and I learned so much, so fast. After a few months, I found myself wanting to move on from the college town I was in. I had these plans to move to LA and then I somehow just happened upon New York. The first job that I had here was at an entertainment PR firm, and I was so bad at it, but looking back on it, I learned so much. It was another trial by fire situation because I knew nothing about PR whatsoever.

I worked there long enough to know that I didn't ever want to work in PR, but learned so much about the entertainment and media industry in New York through that experience. It was around that time when I got connected with the Shorty Awards through my roommate. I was meeting all these content creators, there were some people who had hundreds and thousands of followers because they had one viral moment but I was also meeting these people who just did it as a hobby for themselves.

I knew I wanted to be a part of that world, and I still felt like I wanted to do something that was forward facing like hosting or working in entertainment. Producing content for social media seemed like a really good cross section of the two. That was when I started really leaning into Snapchat and creating more content. When I did the show the kind of content I’d do was more focused because I was that girl from the Shorty Awards and I talked about social media and technology. Now it’s a little more undefined because my Snapchat is more like a daily vlog. So I’m still in the process of figuring out what’s next. I know I want to do on camera stuff, and I really love producing. I'm all in with social media. I think it's a really awesome opportunity to marry all the goals that I have in an expedited way. I could be working for a major network right now and be a glorified intern making no money. Instead, I'm working for a handful of different brands and I get to engage with our followers in a very real way.

I'm definitely interested to see where my career takes me, like a lot of people, I still can't say what I do in a sentence. I can't say what I do in 140 characters. It's difficult, but it's also really exciting. I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up [laughs].

“We’re living in a world where so much content is being created all the time. People have built these amazing empires. Sometimes that’s really inspiring, but other times, it’s just really overwhelming. You feel like you’ve never had an original thought in your whole life.”

What do you find to be the most challenging part of what you do right now?

Sometimes I’ll work on a story that I think is super interesting and really cool, but I get no response from it. A couple weeks ago I did an interview with a friend of mine who owns a clothing store and another interview with a friend of mine who just released an album. Those were stories that I really took time on, they were heavily produced and I did more work on them than anything I’ve done since I stopped doing the Shorty Awards show. They got a good response but not the response I was expecting.

For example, a few of weeks ago I snapchatted from my bed with no makeup on that I had had a dream that I was in a salon with Caitlyn Jenner and I was getting eyelash extensions. Then I was saying, "I've never gotten eyelash extensions and I want to, but everyone always tells me that they're painful and they take two hours and that's not my jam." I've never gotten more engagement on a single Snapchat than that one.

People were tweeting me and snapping me about their eyelash extensions. I was blown away. So I think the biggest challenge is just you don't know what's going to do well. I always want to make things that I care about and that I think are important. But then I also try and zoom out and ask myself what’s truly important, because this is a narcissistic industry. My Snapchat is me. It's my face every day talking about my life.

I did an interview with Joey Badass on the Fuse TV Snapchat, and I was so nervous about it because he's an artist that I really look up to. He's very politically charged, but the questions that we ask on Snapchat tend to be a little bit more irreverent, like, "What did you have for breakfast?" I feel weird asking that with this person I really admire. It can also be odd looking up to people who are younger and more successful than you. When I was working for the Shorty Awards this year, I'd be on the red carpet interviewing these 16-year-olds who have millions of followers and do 6-figure brand deals and I'm just like, "Hi, what's up? I’m 24 and I have three roommates."

I've made this choice to work in social media. As a culture, we're all so addicted to it and this idea of lifecasting, sharing your whole life. Sometimes I feel so weird about that, but at the same time, I know that this is what's getting me work. This is what is getting me to the next thing. You have to use social media to promote yourself, get in front of the right audience to find the right person. Every time I've ever worked with a brand or I've gotten asked to do an interview or speak at a conference or anything like that, it's always been someone who either found me through Twitter and Snapchat and they always have some story they remember me by and it's always something silly or that I did just being myself for a second. Like the time I snapchatted myself getting rid of a dead rat in our New York City apartment or when I threw my friend (who wasn’t engaged) a fake surprise bachelorette party.

It's finding that balance between having a normal life. I like to think I can, but I can't take breaks from social media really. I have to use social media to promote myself. I've been working with more agencies and they've been pitching me for more campaigns. They always say to me, "You need to get your Instagram up. You need to get your Instagram up." Instagram just isn't an app that comes naturally to me. I love it. I love looking at it but I like Instagram to see what my friends are doing. That's how I started using it. That's how I want to continue to use it. Everyone always says, "You have to do more photo shoots or you have to do more this or whatever." It just feels weird. I think that's something that I'm struggling with now.

It's one of those things where sometimes I ask myself, "Am I posting this because I want to post this and I want my friends to see it? Or, am I posting this because I know that it's going to get this amount of likes and because I need to post something today?" It's probably a waste of energy to struggle with that, but it's something that's been on my mind lately.

“If you're choosing a career that's a little bit outside-the-box, don't hold yourself to the same standard that your friend with a 9-5 has.”

With so many different things on the go and switching context so much, have you developed any techniques to help you stay on top of everything and be the most productive?

I am a super visual person, so it's really important for me to write things down and write things out. I take a lot of notes when I’m in meetings or on calls. The best thing that I've ever done was buy a sticky whiteboard off Amazon and put it on the wall in my room. Every month, I draw a calendar on it, and then I have everything color-coded. I mark everything from client work to when I'll be travelling. I've been so lucky to do so much travelling in 2016 but had I not gotten this calendar, I'm so positive I would have double-booked something. It's funny because I was looking at it a couple weeks ago, and the way that everything was color-coded and the way that I had marked flights is the way that I was taught to do it when I worked at that PR firm. That whole time, I thought, "This job is awful. I'm not learning anything," but I did learn something: how to manage myself. I saw a tweet recently from someone I wish I could remember who but it said, “A lot of you don’t need managers or assistants you just need to be more organized and work harder.” That stuck with me.

To-do lists are also huge. Every morning I write down a to-do list for the day. These are the things that I need to publish. These are the things that I need to work on. Then I have a little section in the corner where I literally tally up how many glasses of water I've drank because it’s a goal of mine to drink more water. As far as time management, I used to get really down on myself and think that I wasn't a "hustler,” that I wasn't as hard-working as everyone else because I am not a morning person. I'm just really not. I've balanced that out by sometimes staying up late working. Honestly, I do my best work between 11pm and 2am sometimes. That's where I get my best ideas or I come up with how to pitch something.

Letting your schedule be what it is and being honest with yourself about what's maintainable is important. Just because everyone else is up at 6am answering emails doesn't mean you have to be. I work from home 1 day a week, and today was that day. I slept until 11 and it was great.

I struggle with consistency but I think you just need to let yourself be flexible when you're in a job that calls for it. I have some clients who want to talk on the phone really late at night and I have some clients who only want to do things over email. If you're choosing a career that's a little bit outside-the-box, don't hold yourself to the same standard that your friend with a 9-5 has.

Do you ever have moments where you feel disconnected from what you're doing or you're not as passionate about it? How do you deal with that and stay motivated?

I'm in a pretty good spot at the moment, and I'm very lucky to be able to say that everything I'm doing right now I really care about. It's exciting stuff and even if not all aspects of it are incredibly exciting, I can find enough in it to stay motivated. But I've definitely felt it in the past, my first few jobs in social media weren't for the most exciting client.

I do occasionally get into funks where I feel like I’m not doing anything new or different. When that happens that’s when I know I need to take a day and not look at my phone, and not feel like I need to catch up with every single YouTuber in the world. We’re living in a world where so much content is being created all the time. People have built these amazing empires. Sometimes that’s really inspiring, but other times, it’s just really overwhelming. You feel like you’ve never had an original thought in your whole life. Taking a step back from all of it and looking at the stuff that you have done objectively as if you were a third party is a good way to get rejuvenated. Also, read a book.

“Those moments are always times where I realize that people are actually getting something out of this. I’m not just talking into the abyss.”

What are the tools that you're using on a daily basis that make up your workflow?

Google Drive - Google Docs saves my whole world, especially Google Drive because a lot of times with Snapchat I have to download things and send them to people and you get more space on Google Drive than you do on Dropbox which is nice.

My phone and an Internet connection.

And Snapchat.

When do you feel that your work is the most meaningful and that you are having the most impact in the way that you want to?

It sounds cheesy, but I’ll get messages-especially from younger girls-saying that I’ve encouraged them to pursue a career in social media or technology. Recently, I was on a panel about travel and someone reached out to me afterwards and said that I inspired them to travel by themselves because I do it all the time and I Snapchat about it. Being young and female it was something they didn’t feel they could do, I hate that that’s a thing, I hate that we even have to talk about it as if me daring to be female and get on an airplane by myself is a bold thing to do but it’s the reality.

Those moments are always times where I realize that people are actually getting something out of this. I’m not just talking into the abyss. I’m not just lifecasting for no reason to no one. That’s always really nice. Then, anytime I can convince someone that Snapchat is worth downloading (especially the older generation), I feel like I’m doing something that matters because it’s opened up such a huge world to so many people.

Who is someone you would want to see interviewed for Ways We Work?

Megan Frantz - She's the senior producer for the Shorty Awards and she helped me out a lot. She jokes around that she's my manager because she has pitched me for speaking engagements and gotten me jobs before. That's not her job, she's just a very well connected person. She's the blood, sweat, and tears behind the Shorty Awards. She produces that entire event along with Nik Aliye. She's the most organized, productive person I've ever met in my entire life, and she still has a few side hustles going on while having a full-time job, which I think is super admirable.

You can follow Frankie on Snapchat here.