CSU alumna discusses working in booming social media industry


Sam Benavidez

Lynae Cook turns her passion for social connection into a rewarding career.

If as soon as you hop on I-80 to cross over the new Bay Bridge, your first thought is to snap a picture, capture the moment, and share it with your friends on Instagram, you are participating in the social media phenomenon.

This constant interest in social networking has been sweeping the nation and world for the better part of the last ten years. With Facebook on Tuesday celebrating its 10th birthday and boasting over 1.23 billion active users, there is no doubt that this area of the Internet is here to stay.

According to a report by Forrester Research published in July 2013, fully 100 percent of businesses in their survey use social media to help make decisions.

High school students, college students, professionals, and parents represent the other side of this phenomenon we call social media.

We use Facebook to connect with friends, Twitter to share our thoughts and reach out to companies we follow, Instagram to perfect our iPhoneography skills, and Vine to spread hilarious and creative six-second videos.

In recent years, companies have developed their own style of marketing and promotion through social media, and for San Francisco resident and California State University, Fullerton alumna Lynae Cook, social media is not just an activity, it is a line of work.

Cook majored in Sociology, with a minor in Public Relations. She recently finished up her position as associate social media manager at Rodan + Fields Skincare Products. Cook is currently the director of events at KM Productions, and social media consultant at Cabo Chips, Harputs Clothing, and The Style Space online retail store.

On top of all this, she is founder of 47th Wave Digital Strategy, a media and event production, and talent booking company, as well as co-founder of social media integrated All Smiles Photo Booths.

Social media manager, and other titles like it entail much more than posting a photo with some links. Social media managers report to Marketing teams, create innovative online promotion campaigns, and analyze the amount of interaction that each post generates.

According to Cook, it is a field on the rise. “I think its growing, and I love that people are now willing to put more of a budget into it. Executives are now seeing that it’s hugely important not just for branding purposes anymore, but as a stream of revenue.”

Senior Amber Javaid, who is majoring in marketing, concurs. “I think social media is modernizing established goals of Marketing. Social media builds on [Marketing Return of Investment] by talking directly to customers in tailored and unique brand voices.”

Growing up spending weekends and vacations in Orange County, but going to high school in Santa Clarita, Calif., it was tough for her to establish close friendships with her classmates.

Cook turned to Myspace to connect with her friends, “I kind of made it to make myself look cool, to be honest.” While she said most kids’ Myspace contained only words, Cook would experiment with embedding images and videos onto her profile.

The goal of most social media sites, as communicated by companies like Facebook and Twitter, is to connect the world, and to create and encourage interaction between people in the most dynamic form possible.

Myspace did just that for her. She began to make connections on the site, a few of which developed into real-life friendships. She edited videos for skateboarders wanting to share their footage with sponsors in hopes that these larger companies would notice them.

While in college, Cook was offered three internships. During her time with artist management company The Collective, she built YouTube channels and websites for artists like ska-punk band Goldfinger and legendary reggae singer Jimmy Cliff.

Valuable experiences like these and skills in Photoshop, WordPress, and other editing tools is eventually what separated her from other candidates for social media positions. Skills that she brought to her internships excited her supervisors in a time where social media was beginning to take off in the entertainment world.

Cook stepped up to challenges that her team was presented with. “They didn’t necessarily have the people to do [website and YouTube channel building],” she said. But the team was excited when Cook agreed to do the job.

“They were stoked because it would have taken forever and they would have had to pay somebody,” she said.

As a relatively new career field, Cook says she enjoys her work and likes how you can instantaneously see the product of her work.

“I like that I can easily see results, and directly see how what I’m doing is affecting the company…It’s not one of those spaces that’s been so played out already that there’s so many rules.”

Company to customer interaction is a main focus of many brands with a strong social media presence. “It’s important because it shows customers that you care and that you’re willing to put in the extra effort,” she said. “It’s really a part of branding more than anything.”