Kathleen Fetters, Social Media Intelligence and Strategies Manager for First Republic Bank

We sat down with SocialMedia.org member Kathleen Fetters to talk about her career path to becoming the Social Media Intelligence and Strategies Manager at First Republic Bank. She's also teaching a class on “How to run a social media listening program” at our Brands-Only Summit in Orlando this October.

“My career in digital media started with my battle with fax machines.”

Kathleen Fetters now runs social media intelligence and strategies at First Republic Bank. But she says her career in digital marketing began at a biotech company in the late 90’s when she became fed up with unreliable fax communications.

She convinced the leadership to start using “this crazy thing called email” — not just for internal communications, but also to reach their clients and prospects. From there, she became the World Wide eMarketing Operations Manager for Applied Biosystems (now Thermo Fisher Scientific), managing all aspects of outbound email communications across the globe in multiple languages.

“It was all about being in the right place at the right time and being curious about how digital could make life better — not just for me as the marketer, but for our clients as well,” Kathleen says.

With over sixteen years experience in online marketing for biotech and tech companies, Kathleen says the transition to the financial industry was huge.

“It's not that biotech isn't also regulated or doesn't have a level of compliance to meet,” Kathleen explains.

But, she says, in the tech industry, lots of people are ready to jump in and try the next big thing online or in social media. At those tech companies, her role had a bigger focus on reining those people in and keeping a focused brand presence online.

“In the banking industry, a lot of regulations put the brakes on doing things more quickly in social. A lot of the things I was used to doing in the tech industry in days or even hours takes a lot more time because there are more people, procedures, and policies involved.”

Kathleen says, as a social media leader, knowing your profession inside and out isn't enough — you also have to know your business.

Kathleen is constantly keeping up with the social listening world: evaluating the tools, meeting with vendors, and customizing them for First Republic Bank. Any social executive will tell you constant learning is a part of the job.

But according to Kathleen, “It's just as important to know all of your stakeholders and their needs too, because after all, your success is based on their success.”

As for the future of social media, Kathleen sees it a lot like her initial frustration with the fax machine.

She says, without understanding the big impact email marketing would have on her business, she was still willing to try it and open to change.

“I'm looking forward to the unknown. My career may totally change as a result of it, but it's also really exciting to think of the unknown and the future. I just keep an open mind about what's to come and try to be there when it happens.”

Follow Kathleen on Twitter and stay tuned for her class on “How to run a social media listening program” at our Brands-Only Summit this October.