How I got my first job as a social data journalist


My name is Gemma Joyce and I work as a Social Data Journalist at Brandwatch. We’re a social media listening company that works with some of the biggest companies in the world, and I’ve worked here for around a year and a half.

My role involves taking care of Brandwatch React, the current affairs and pop culture oriented sub-brand of Brandwatch that tells stories with our data. This entails creating a lot of content for the Brandwatch blog, managing the Brandwatch React (@BW_React) Twitter account, thinking up ideas for new data stories and visualisations, and the odd TV and radio appearance.

1. How did you get your role?

I didn’t intend to get into digital marketing when I was at university. I actually did a degree in Philosophy and Sociology at the University of Exeter and intended to do a Masters in Newspaper Journalism at City University when I graduated in 2015.

first job, digital marketing, social data

Preparing to get onto the course, I became editor of the student paper Exeposé, got a shed load of work experience in journalism, and wrote as much as I could for national papers. In the space of a year, I managed to add The Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Telegraph and various smaller titles to my CV as either a work experience intern or a contributor, which I think really boosted my application when I decided to apply at Brandwatch.

I heard about the job at Brandwatch after graduation while I was working as a freelance writer/social media consultant/bar woman through a friend I’d worked with on my student paper. They must have liked me because after a test and a few interviews I was in! I started in December 2015 and have loved working here since.

2. What propels you out of bed in the morning?

I love when our data makes a splash, whether it’s in the press or climbing up to the front page of Reddit. I’m lucky enough to be able to create unique content that can add to really important conversations, and it’s great when people get involved.

first job, digital marketing, social data, graduate

It’s a bonus that I get to work in a vibrant environment full of brilliant people in sunny Brighton.

3. What tool(s) could you not do your job without and why?

The tool I work with most is Brandwatch Analytics which I use to gather and analyse social data for my work. It also means I can track our social media presence in a really indepth way which is so useful in this line of work.

I’m also slightly addicted to Google Analytics. I’d never really worked with data before I came to Brandwatch, but I found out I was fairly driven by numbers and achieving my numerical targets. This means I’m always keeping an eye on how my posts are doing and where are traffic is coming from so I can adapt my daily routine accordingly. Without that I’d feel a bit lost.

Finally, for scheduling social media posts, I use Buffer. It’s so simple and easy and their team is wonderful if you ever have questions.

4. What piece of tech can you not live without?

Like most people of my generation, I’m never without my phone. It means I can keep an eye on everything and jump on problems if they occur, but I definitely recognise the value of switching off. It took me a while to realise how important it is to take time disconnected from work – especially adapting from freelance life where I was thinking about work all day!

5. What’s your best piece of advice for anyone starting out in digital marketing today?

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my short career so far, it’s that you don’t have to be an extrovert to build a network of people who value your work and can offer you great opportunities. When I started out at uni I was frustrated at some of the opportunities some of my peers seemed to be getting with little effort – it seemed like everyone “knew someone”.

I gradually realised that by proving myself to people who could help me, often by working for nothing, I could create a really strong network. For example, in the summer between second and third year I volunteered at a local independent paper in my home town and ended up working as a news editor for two of the editions. Through a lovely contact I made there, I was able to reach out to journalists at The Times and the Guardian with a shiny recommendation from someone they recognised.

Without a whole bunch of connections I made while interning and volunteering, I’d never have got the job I have now.

If Gemma’ story inspired you why not read more ‘How I Started’ profiles? Or perhaps it’s time to up-skill with online training, get some work experience or start an internship by visiting our Finding A Job page.

About post author

Gemma Joyce
Gemma works as a Social Data Journalist at Brandwatch - a social media listening company that works with some of the biggest companies in the world.
Posted in How I started