Karma Connected: Q&A with DNC Social Media Team Member Laiza Santos

Posted By Jordan Washington on July 27, 2016

Us Karmites have plenty of friends in busy places; many of whom work in fields similar to our own. While we often chat with them one-on-one to discuss the ever-changing world of communications, we figured it was high time to share the wealth. In the first blog post of a new series we like to call Karma Connected, we chat with Laiza Santos, member of the Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention's digital and social media team. While she's probably somewhere in a large crowd with her nose pressed to a brightly-lit cell phone screen right now, we were able to steal a few moments with this Jane of all trades last week to discuss her involvement with the DNC, how the social landscape is changing and what, exactly, we can do to keep up.

What does the ground operation look like for social with the DNC? Give us a bit of insight into your day-to-day.
Before my new position at the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, I was assisting the Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention 2-3 days out of the week at their office. I would start with researching trending topics and events, brainstorming and creating content as well as figuring out which social platforms would work best for what. Our main goals are to drive traffic to locate businesses and create excitement in Philadelphia for visiting delegates and city residents. Going into DNC Week, I will be one of many Snapchat Storytellers. Most of that work will be making sure that our viewers are in the know of what's happening, how they can be involved and where to go to have fun.


What social media platforms have you found are most effective in sharing DNC messaging/get the most interaction?
It really depends on the type of content we are sharing on which platform. Some, like videos, tend to do well on one platform than others. Example... with the way the new algorithm works, videos have done very well on Facebook, highlighting the diversity, excitement and impact of our city coming directly from Philadelphia's own business owners and residents. Snapchat is another platform that has captivated our younger audience. Making sure they are aware of all that is happening in our city in a fun, creative way has caught height, too. It's all about how we tailor what we post to which platform. When we do that, all of our social platforms become effective in sharing our messaging.


Is there any social media campaign or initiative the DNC has released that you're most proud of?
During some of my brainstorming sessions last year, the Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention team wanted to focus on bringing diversity into our social content. So, with the help of some amazing videographers, Stephanie Ramos and Josue Lora, the social video series #PhillyWelcomesYou was created. Each video featured Philadelphians representing a variety of backgrounds speaking in their indigenous languages—Spanglish, Creole, Bengali, Greek and English—about their favorite parts of Philadelphia at iconic locations. With the understanding of the many cultures and backgrounds represented by the delegates and visitors coming to our city for the Convention, #PhillyWelcomesYou was intended to welcome people of all walks of life to the city and highlight some of the many aspects of Philadelphia that make it the vibrant place it is. Each video was filmed at iconic locations throughout the city. You can watch them all here.


What about your least proud moment? Give us a peek into your blooper reel—without revealing any government secrets, of course.
Hmm...my least proudest moment would have to be finding it hard to create language that didn't sound like the social content my friends at Visit Philly or PHLCVB were sharing. We had to be different and unique in our own way. Sometimes the content I would write wouldn't quite fit so, I had a lot of modifying and editing from Annie Heckenberger, Director of Social and Digital for the Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention. It's odd to say but those moments made me think harder about what we were writing and how we were sharing our message. Many brands or organizations, don't think about their social 'voice' but it's crucial! I definitely learned a lot and I am grateful for the guidance.


How do you, personally, measure success?
For me, success is measured by how much you have learned from an opportunity or experience. Often times, people believe that successful people have learned all they need to know. Technology is always evolving, especially in the social media realm, and with that comes the simple concept of learning—about new apps, strategies, and tactics. If you're not willing to learn as a social media marketer? Then you're in the wrong field.


Is there anything that's surprised you during this process/a challenge you didn't anticipate?
I didn't anticipate the vast national impact our social content has on our city and beyond. I mean, when you hear Democratic National Convention you know it's going to be BIG but you don't understand until you are deep into it all and working on the inside.


Is it possible to get ahead of the game with social in the midst of a presidential campaign?
You just have to be diligent in consistently being on top of what is trending and happening in our world. Knowing how, where and why you should respond or be a part of a conversation is important to figure out ahead of time. BUT we all know how unexpected candidates or campaigns can be so being on top of your game and having notifications for certain people is key.


In your opinion, how do you feel President Obama's use of social media since his first campaign has impacted the relationship between social and politics, if at all?
We have to think of social as being the front line, the direct connection between you and your audience. Obama saw that and invested in it. It brought light to its impact and power at a time when social media was just some random app people had. You can see that idea of social media investment in the political realm trickle down to what you see now: "Twitter town halls", Facebook live stream debates or speeches, candidates on Snapchat and more. All those strategies and tactics cause us to share, start conversations and develop the way we talk about politics.


Favorite social media platform and why?
Ah! I am going to have to say Twitter. That is where I fell in love with social. I have made so many connections and friends with people all over the world, it's insane. I started to notice the impact social media had in the way we view the world and how we talk about social issues and cat memes. Even though, many people in the social media world think Twitter is dying, I am holding on to it. It's where I get most of my news and how I find out what's happening with my favorite brands. Twitter is bae.


July 29, after it's all over, what's the first thing you're doing?
Go to the nearest grocery store, buy a bag of Sweet and Sour Doritos and binge watch Investigation Discovery for an entire day.


Photo credit: KMS Fotographie