Data Stories: Leaders at Work is a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Rahul Jerome, founder of insight-intelligence.com and The Insight Network, co-organised by Audiense. The series captures personal anecdotes and career highlights from some of the most talented and brightest minds in the research and insights industry.
Christina Garnett, Senior marketing manager for offline community & advocacy at HubSpot, is our guest on this episode of the Data Stories: Leaders at Work podcast. A former teacher, Christina loves to learn and share her knowledge to build communities using inbound marketing and audience insights. She received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Davidson College in North Carolina, USA, a prestigious university known for its exceptional students. After graduation, Christina participated in a job fair where she was approached by several middle and high schools about becoming a math teacher. She pursued some further education to become qualified to teach math to 8th-12th graders, which she did for 5 years.
Around this time, Christina and her husband moved to Virginia and had their first child and Christina became a stay-at-home mom. During this natural transition time, she put a lot of thought into how she would want to reinvent herself to enter back into the workforce. Recognizing that Christina had always had a marketing mindset and a natural tendency to want to understand people, her husband encouraged her to pursue something in that industry.
When she got into a HubSpot Academy course on inbound marketing, she knew that she had found her passion: to educate clients, customers, team members, and colleagues in a way that would allow for the sharing of knowledge and the improvement of the overall experience for all involved. She found her teaching skills to be transferrable in that essentially the purpose of marketing is to provide differentiated instruction to everyone that will personalize and optimize interactions.
Christina’s first official marketing job was in the advancement department at a local art museum. She was responsible for generating leads and communicating with current and potential donors, but she and a colleague saw an opportunity to get the museum on to social media, so they did. Christina took on Facebook and Twitter and she found this to be an incredibly powerful time of learning, from analyzing user culture and engagement to social listening, and she published what she was learning along the way. She was contacted by SCORE about a position in social media and marketing, which she took before becoming the marketing director at the Small Business Development Center in her area. At the SBDC, Christina got to provide counsel and teach courses to small businesses on all aspects of the marketing journey from ideation to exit strategy.
All the while, she was using all of the tools available to her in the realms of social intelligence and social listening, which she differentiates from social monitoring, which many people settle for. Social monitoring is essentially taking a snapshot of a short period of time and drawing conclusions based on that one observation, which social listening is a longer-term commitment with more robust insights.
Community is Christina’s lifeblood, and she attributes much of her knowledge and connections to the groups she has been a part of. One of these groups is the NASA Social community, which brings together people who are influential in their own spheres and provides them with the opportunity to attend space shuttle launches and other events if their applications are accepted. Christina was chosen in 2019 and she remains an advocate for this grassroots social amplification. She is also a part of the Marketing Twitter community which is a safe space and provides a connection point for anyone working in marketing who is active on Twitter, regardless of their platform size. Working with so many small business owners at the SBDC, Christina couldn’t help but become interested in entrepreneurship herself, so she has had a hand in founding 2 agencies as well.
Christina’s advice to her younger self would be that everyone is just figuring it out as they go, so bring your best and don’t worry about the rest. In the next 3-5 years, she would love to be a Chief Community Officer for a brand, bringing together her passions for understanding people and educating people while building rapport and synergy. To people looking to begin careers in marketing, Christina’s advice is to always be learning, to be curious, and to know that you are a work-in-progress with plenty of space to improve.
The full version of the podcast with Christina Garnett can be listened here: