Health Champion, Rockstar Blogger + Award-Winning Social Media Pro::Test Drive My Job Lovette Ajayi (@iluvvit)
I’m excited to feature the story of Lovette Ajaji – better know on the interwebs as “Luvvie.” She has made such terms as “ratchet” a part of my everyday vocabulary. In addition to being a hilariously funny and successful blogger, Lovette is a passionate and selfless health advocate. Alongside The Fab Giver’s Karyn Watkins, she founded the Red Pump Project, a highly celebrated non-profit that increases awareness about HIV/AIDS. If all that weren’t enough, she most recently was awarded the Women’s Media Center 2012 Award for Social Media in New York City. She’s one to watch!
Lovette (Luvvie) Ajayi
Co-Founder, The Red Pump Project
Social Media Trainer, Consultant www.luvvie.org
Blogger – AwesomelyLuvvie.com
Mopwater: Describe your path to PR.
LA: I ended up in marketing and social media by happenstance but I think it kinda found me.
I went to college at the University of Illinois, where I got my degree in Psychology. While in school, I had a couple of marketing internships, and I really enjoyed them. When I graduated, I got a marketing internship with a nonprofit organization that did journalism too. There were two magazines under the umbrella. Within 8 months, I was Marketing Coordinator.
As for blogging, I started in 2003, on Xanga. Back when they were still called “weblogs” and they were more personal diaries than anything. Me and my friends all had Xanga pages where we talked about our mundane lives as undergrads. But once I graduated, I felt like I had outgrown that, and I started Awesomely Luvvie. It began as just a platform for me to talk about my random thoughts on pop culture and life in general, and people would laugh when they read my posts. I’m naturally silly and it comes off in my writing. And then I decided “Hmmm… I guess I have a humor blog!” And here I am 6 years later.
All of that fed into my creating The Red Pump Project. My nonprofit marketing and blogging background felt like a natural mesh. However, when Karyn Watkins and I asked our fellow bloggers to write about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls in March 2009, we didn’t realize what we were starting. We thought we were just doing something simple to get a few people to commemorate National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. But what we started was a movement. All because of social media.
What’s been cool about everything I’ve been doing in the past 6-7 years is that social media has been included in my work. Even when I had internships, I infused the web into them somehow. In my earlier positions, I even introduced the organizations I worked for to Facebook. I’ve seen the value in new media as a great connector since I found my childhood best friend on Facebook. We had lost touch for 13 years and she found me!
Mopwater – Describe a pivotal moment in your career. Did you have any outstanding mentors or internships that helped you get to where you are today?
LA : There have been so many pivotal moments in my career so far, and so many people who’ve mentored me. One of those people is Venita Griffin. She hired me for my first AND second job out of college and she’s incredibly multifaceted and gifted in all areas of Communications. She is one of those women who can do whatever and do it well. She’s a fellow techie and geek, and working with her was so fun! Having a boss who loves taking risks and thrives when innovating is incredible because it pushes you to your limits as a creative. I haven’t worked for her in years, but she’s a mentor (and friend) who I can call and learn from anytime.
As far as that IT moment? I feel like this last month was pivotal for my career. I won the Women’s Media Center Social Media Award, and it was such an incredible honor that I have a hard time putting it into words. I was nominated for the award, along with 18 other incredible women, which included Issa Rae and Janet Mock.
It was one of those things where to be nominated was TRULY an honor in itself because I was in amazing company. So when I was told I won it, I was shocked! It’s truly the biggest honor to win this award because not only is the organization behind it changing the world, but my peers voted for me to get this. And not just that, Robin Morgan presented it to me. She’s a feminist activist, poet, author and basically superwoman. She’s also one of the three founders of the Women’s Media Center. Plus, I got to give a speech about my work in a room that included people like Barbara Walters, Anne Hathaway and Lynn Nottage. It was truly an epic evening.
The award is special because it recognized my work not just with Awesomely Luvvie or The Red Pump Project, but with BOTH. They got that what I’m trying to do is to make folks laugh while making them think critically about the world around them, and social media lets me do this everyday.
Mopwater: Describe Your Typical Workday. Where do you work? What do you do all day?
LA: My workday usually starts between 10am and 12pm, and that’s because I am just waking up around that time. Why so late? Because I’m a night owl, and most of my days don’t end until 4am.
I wake up, and the first hour after showering is usually dedicated to getting my brain ready for the day. On days when I really have pressing things to attend to, I create a to-do list of things I want/need to accomplish that day. Other times, I just jump into my inbox and see where it takes me.
Then I spend some time on Facebook and Twitter, sometimes loitering and other times, I’m doing work for clients. The rest of my day is usually split between conference calls, 1-on-1 trainings I give to people on how to use social media for their business and writing. I write a lot. Outside of emails and tweets, I estimate that I write 3,000 to 5,000 words a day. This is on blog posts, documents for Red Pump and other content.
And for the days where TV shows I watch come on, I spend evenings live-tweeting them. I don’t get to bed until 4am on most days though. I find that my productivity is on overdrive after midnight. I’m a bit odd like that.
Oh and I also spend time on gChat. I don’t have coworkers so my idea of conversations over the water cooler is chatting with my friends throughout the day. Many of my amigos are self-employed too so we’re in this unofficial club together.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I love naps. A typical day for me involves at least one. Naps are essential to my life because it’s my version of an extended lunch break during the day. They recharge me! And to think I hated them when I was little. I didn’t know any better.
Mopwater: What is your favorite thing about working in social media?
LA : My favorite thing about doing social media work is that everyday I have the chance to connect with people I could have never dreamed of. Knowing that I’m only one tweet or blog post away from my dreams coming true is amazing. It’s the fact that I’m meshing my passions with my skills to do work I love. Not only am I good at what I do but I have a good time while doing. I also thoroughly enjoy the fact that I can do my work in pajamas. I don’t need to have on a suit when purple heart pajamas will do just fine!
Mopwater: What are your favorite tasks? Least favorites?
LA: I have the best time when I’m teaching people about social media and why it’s important. That’s fun for me because I know I’m giving people something of value that can empower them to use technology better. When people tell me they now “get it” and afterwards, say that their business is doing better because of it, it makes my heart smile.
One of my least favorite tasks? Sending invoices. Gosh! It’s such a chore for some reason! But I do (of course) it because I gotta get my monies!
Mopwater : Who are some of your clients? What do you do for those clients?
LA: Most recently, I moderated a Twitter chat for EDEN BodyWorks. They just did a big reveal with blogger Afrobella, straightening her hair without heat damage with one of their products and I facilitated the one-hour chat from their account. Afrobella and Felicia Leatherwood, celebrity hairstylist were the guests and I drove the conversation, asking them questions and engaging chat participants. Plus, there were 3 giveaways.
I brought my unique voice to the chat, while keeping the convo flowing and EDEN gained 50 followers in that hour. And they received such great feedback. Folks told them I was the best chat moderator ever! Also, the chat hashtag reached almost 22,000 accounts and had over 54,000 impressions.
When brands trust me to their account for an hour or two or an evening and I bring my voice to their space, I have a good time. I stick with their rules but I add my twist. And in turn, it increases their engagement with their audience.
Mopwater: Do you think you’ll be doing this job in 5 years?
LA: I do think I’ll be doing similar work in 5 years, just on a grander scale. It’s my dream to go on a global tour teaching social media classes in various countries. I’d love to do social media trainings in Nigeria, Italy, England, Greece, France. LOVE! So that’s on my bucket list and is my dream project.
LA: If you’d like to break into social media work, you need to learn the core principles of communication. In this field, your ability to have conversations that will move people to ACT and DO is incredibly important so you’ve gotta know how to talk to people. So start there first and never lose sight of that.
Then get internships to get your feet wet. Work with an organization or someone you admire and let them show you the ropes. Be willing to learn that this isn’t a job that “anyone” can do because it’s easy. Anyone can do it because anyone can communicate. BUT not everyone can do it WELL. You want to be the one to do it well, so find a way to learn what that looks like.
I don’t think I’d change anything about my career’s journey, even the mistakes, because those were necessary. They taught me lessons that I carry with me. Every position I’ve had has taught me something new and even now I still learn new things.
Do what you’re passionate about and learn the skills necessary. But the important part is that you just do it. Word to Nike.