Breaking into Social Media— A chat with UT Austin's Orlan Elizarraraz
Social media has infiltrated every part of our lives over the last twenty years, including
advertising and communications. New jobs in social media marketing, management, and analysis
open up daily. The nature of social media lures young professionals with the promise of exciting,
varied work, but a career in social media can also be intimidating. In reality, cracking the code of
social media and finding success can be difficult.
We interviewed the University of Texas at Austin's Social Media Coordinator, Orlan Elizarraraz
about the ups and downs of social media and how he has found success in this complex industry.
Mr. Elizarraraz's day-to-day work consists of generating reports, attending meetings, and
creating a variety of content. From speaking with Mr. Elizarraraz, we learned that
communication, creativity, and staying a step ahead are crucial in the social media industry.
How does such a large, diverse organization like UT Austin decide what to post? Mr. Elizarraraz
explained how it's all in their strategy:
"UT Austin has been reviewing its social media strategy yearly to make sure the
university is covering all platforms that grow into the mainstream. While the UT Austin
strategy calls for covering a huge demographic, our team and department makes sure to
cover even the most specific subgroups."
Mr. Elizarraraz’s focus is on mobile video content, graphic design, and photography. He shared
that "Since UT Austin socials are the digital face of the university, I want to show what UT and
the life of a Longhorn is all about with my work."
While social media has its challenges, it also comes with great rewards. It allows you to think
creatively. One of the projects Mr. Elizarraraz is most proud of is his Halloween-themed movie
posters. "It was a solo project I didn’t anticipate would even be a thing, but my supervisor loved
the idea and designs, so I just went for it."
UT Austin manages five social media platforms, but Instagram is Mr. Elizarraraz's favorite. "I
love posting on Instagram for UT. I feel that Instagram is more for the content I create [than]
Twitter or Facebook. Instagram motivates people to engage with these elements as opposed to
Twitter or Facebook where they feel more meme-driven."
We asked Mr. Elizarraraz if he had any advice for those looking to break into the social media
industry. According to him, having thick skin is crucial:
"There will always be someone online creating conflict for your employer on the most
random posts you may be doing/managing. [Don't] take anything personally. Managing
social media is a lot of work in which you will see a lot of negative comments, sometimes aimed at your employer or indirectly at you. If you let things get to you, it will cause a lot
of unhealthy stress.”
It's also important to take breaks. Social media roles can be taxing. When you feel overwhelmed
by it all, "step away from the apps and focus on something else. Your mental health is more
important than monitoring social media.”
Like any career, the ability to look into the future and anticipate change is crucial to long-term
"One thing I wish someone told me before starting social media is to future proof your
career. Always think ahead of the game. In grad school, the up-and-coming feature was
video content. Luckily, I taught myself that when I could, and it helped me land the jobs
I’ve had so far. The new thing now is AI... we as social media people need to use this
new feature as a tool."
So, how does the University of Texas prepare its students for success in this dynamic and
fast-paced industry? Providing them with real-world experience through classes like TXADPR's
social media course is a start. Mr. Elizarraraz suggests taking this course and others that push you
"to not only think outside the box but to have effective solutions for social media campaigns and
While social media isn't always glitz and glamor, it can be very rewarding.
"While you will work hard in networking, designing, and working on your skills daily,
it’s all worth it when you land the job you’ve always wanted. Social media is one hell of
a job that opens so many doors for you. You will experience so many opportunities with
whichever employer you work for."