Reimagining the Way We Use Social Media: Christina Olivarez7 min read

Christina Olivarez at TEDx Palo Alto College conference
Christina Olivarez at TEDx Palo Alto College conference

Full text of Christina Olivarez’s talk: Reimagining the Way We Use Social Media at TEDx Palo Alto College conference

In this talk, Christina Olivarez, social media strategist, Founder & CEO of The Social Butterfly Gal., shares the idea that social media can be used to do much more than posting selfies. Connecting with audiences and customers through social media requires trust and strategy. 

Notable Quotes from this talk:

“Why did it take a crisis for many to understand the importance of social media marketing?”

“We are just scratching the surface. How about we take this moment to unlock the full potential of what we could do with social media? We have the power right at our fingertips.”

Listen to MP3 Audio:


Christina Olivarez –  Social Media Strategist, Founder & CEO of The Social Butterfly Gal

2020, the year that showed us how important social media really is. There’s always a love, hate relationship when it comes to social media, there’s people who say social media is a waste of time. Then there’s others who feel social media is bad and negative. And then there’s other people who feel social media is only use for vanity purposes, like for seeking validation.

But in 2020, during a global pandemic, we all face a reality about social media. The reality is that the social media marketing is no longer optional, It is a necessity. People and businesses who had never been on social media suddenly found themselves utilizing these platforms in order to stay afloat.

I’m Christina Olivarez, and I’m here to talk to you today about why we need to reimagine the way we use social media in this new normal. I’m going to share how we can all better understand social media and present opportunities that allow you to be strategic as you use these platforms moving forward.

I’ve been a digital marketer since the age of eight. AOL was my first social media platform. I was introduced to AOL in 1998 when my parents bought our first computer. AOL provided us with homepages and chat rooms, where we would create a screening and chat with people from all over the world. For me, AOL allowed me to connect with In-sync fans. And even though they were teenage girls or strangers on the internet, every time I logged in to that in-sync chat room, I felt connected.

At eight years old, I was already cultivating a community with people who had similar interests. And at eight years old, I was already building a personal brand with the screen name, iceangel48911.

I was doing something that wasn’t being taught in my third grade classroom. I was learning how to write for the web. I was also learning digital marketing skills that would later become the biggest assets from my career.

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AOL turned into my space. My space turned into Twitter and Facebook and so on.

You see I’m immerse in the social media world. I live it and I breathe it. by age 18. I already had 10 years of digital marketing experience under my belt. And when I got into college, I use that experience to market myself. I created a LinkedIn profile to connect with news industry leaders. I then use my Facebook to foster community with all the student organizations I was part of. I then learned how to film, edit, and produce videos to publish on YouTube.

But when I got out of college, I face a harsh reality. The reality is I couldn’t find a job. I then had to re-imagine the way I use my own social media, but for business.

I then had a light bulb moment.  I knew I had to create my own path. The Social Butterfly Gal started off as a blog where I documented my journey in digital marketing. In 2015, hardly anyone in my local San Antonio community was using their social media for business. I saw a problem that desperately needed to be solved.

I then decided to turn SBG into a social media company. Today, I have the honor of leading social media for one of the largest cultural festivals in the nation and helping others with their own social media. Whether it’s a 114 year old meat market on the South side of San Antonio, a trendy retail boutique, or a flea market on the South Texas border.

We all have to understand how social media is. Social media keeps us entertained with very funny videos and viral Tik-Tok challenges, but social media also helps us to engage and inform our audience about specific topics. 

But most importantly, social media helps us to connect with others. But you see social media changes daily, and we all have to understand new strategies and trends. In 2020, did we really learn how to adapt and pivot?

During the shutdown I was faced with a huge challenge. Imagine being the person responsible for communicating on social media, that one of the nation’s premier festivals with an economic impact of $340 million is cancelled.  

As I was mapping out our social media crisis plan. I started to think about how vital social media is at a time like this, but also started to think about why people still had a hard time seeing the value in social media.

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Why did it take a crisis for many to understand the importance of social media marketing?

In sprout social’s 2020 Social Index report, we learned that people are personally motivated to use social media;  to connect with family and friends. The study also revealed that both marketers and consumers agree that when a person’s content is creative, memorable, and impactful, it helps in capturing attention.  And 89% of consumers say that they’ll purchase product or services from a brand that has a consistent social media presence.

Prior to 2020 what type of content where you constantly consistently creating? Let’s dive in to some opportunities that allow to re-imagine social media moving forward:

People seek to come together in times of crisis. That’s why we need to reimagine the way we use social media for cultivating community. During the shutdown in March, when we did the cancellation, I noticed the mood shifted across all of San Antonio. This is an event that brings together 2 million people to the city of San Antonio every year.

When I was reading the audiences comments on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, I knew we couldn’t just sit this one out. We had to really re-imagine how we were going to use social media to still come together as a community. That’s when I decided to launch a social media campaign called At-Home Fiesta.

The At-Home Fiesta campaign was meant to rally up our San Antonio community to showcase how we were all going to come together. Even though the event was canceled, we launched virtual events on Facebook live to offer official merchandise. Local restaurants participated by using the hashtag to offer specific foods. And we then hosted virtual viewing parties on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as the TV networks rebroadcasted last year’s parades.

The post and the hashtag reached a total of 72 million people throughout the month of April. Community- We did that. But what about small business that has 13 families depending on that business for their income and livelihood?

Ginger Diaz is the owner of a local gift shop called Felice modern. During the shutdown they had to pivot to full online shopping, but instead of posting and ghosting, they decided to strategically post on social media. They use their Instagram stories to educate their audience on how to shop online.

They then use their Instagram to share engaging stories about their employees and local artists that they regularly feature in the shop. They use the power of user generated content for social proof. They use their social media for authentic human connections, which made this transition to full online shopping a little bit easier.

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So from cultivating a community to forming authentic human connections, finally, we need to, re-imagine the way we use social media for building trust.

Look at your social media profiles right now. Would anybody be able to trust you? Would they feel compelled to reach out to you or can fail to buy a product or a service? When I think about how a person is using their social media, I think about the way Los Portales Flea Market uses there’s.

Los Portales Flea Market is a 14 acre flea market in Alton, Texas. There you’ll find some of the most hardest working vendors hustling day in and day out. During a very challenging time. Los Portales knew that they had to use their social media to communicate to the public about what they were doing.

As the shutdown was happening, they moved to video marketing and create a dynamic videos in both English and in Spanish to speak directly to their audience. They then use their Instagram live to host Q & A sessions so that the public can know what they were doing as they pivoted to a drive through flea market. They use their social media to establish trust.

As you can see, if we re-imagined the way we use social media personally, or in business, and use it for cultivating community, authentic connections and establishing trust, we have the power to go be on the ordinary and create extraordinary social media experiences.

I’m challenging you right now to re-imagine the way you use social media, ask yourself how you can use these platforms for good. We are just scratching the surface. How about we take this moment to unlock the full potential of what we could do with social media? We have the power right at our fingertips. Thank you. 

– Christina Olivarez

Recommendations for Further Reading:

How can we use Social Media platforms to benefit the world and avoid the negative impacts: Leslie Coutterand

How Big Data Changed Retailing- Curiosity & Collaboration: Edwina Dunn

Can Flip Phones End Our Social Media Addiction: Collin Kartchner

Abducted by Technology- Raising the Smartphone Generation: April Whiting

Christina Olivarez’s talk: Reimagining the Way We Use Social Media at TEDx Palo Alto College conference