Last week, the very bright Sarah Cahill stepped into my kitchen to tell me what was what. Wearing a dusty pink blouse with matching dusty pink sandals, she sat down and immediately launched into a conversation that was so technical, I was reduced to drawing pictures in my notes in an effort to remember how to replicate what she was showing me.

I’d hired Sarah because she is a fresh graduate from WKU with a degree in advertising and, as such, a genius in the world of social media. With my new business Sway Essay (plug, plug!), I am learning that I need to spread its word and basically advertise its presence using Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, most of which are either untapped or misunderstood by me.

When it comes to social media, I nearly always have to attach some type of apology or caveat when I do anything more involved than post a simple message. “I responded ‘yes’ to your party, did you see that?” or “Sorry, I answered to that thread. Can you check the thread to see that I answered?” are two questions I have regularly asked of my poor friends.

Understanding and believing in my phone especially eludes me. There is something that feels surreal about it, for some reason, as if I’m not sure I’m actually awake when something magical happens. Like when I get an alert saying that it’s going to start raining and then two minutes later, it actually does. Or when Google sends me an alert that my plane is delayed, but I never told Google about my travel plans.

But, again, learning this is necessary. Instagram, for one, is nearly exclusively accessible by phone. So, I need to adapt and, more importantly, believe.

Sarah is 22, pretty, and razor sharp. She started the meeting by handing me the book Everybody Writes and telling me that it is the social media content bible. She advised me that I put together a content calendar and showed me her own, three color-coded system that tells her what to do. She explained how to use hashtags and how I should follow companies that my audience likes, so I can get ideas for my own posts and photos. Interestingly, she also told me that I need content that is authentic and honest, that her generation has seen it all and just wants real.

I found this incredibly refreshing. For all of the noise from today’s bells and whistles, this is a generation that wants good, old-fashioned honesty. Sarah said they don’t want to see filters (heavily edited photos) and they can sniff out a stock photo in a heartbeat. Instead they want real stories and real people. Rather hopeful, n’est-ce pas?

I was so impressed by Sarah. She knew her trade, knew she had a skill I was willing to pay for, and she was happy to patiently direct me. In fact, she radiated confidence. When I sheepishly told her I was lost, she wasn’t even that sympathetic (or, frankly, surprised). “Let’s catch you up and stop using excuses because this is important” was the general message. “Being dumb at technology isn’t cute anymore.”

And when I asked her if I should try to connect with students by trying to be youthful myself, she firmly said no. “I want to use your service because I think you’re smart. Everything you do needs to make me trust that. That’s what you’re selling.”

Being that sure of oneself was definitely a far cry from where I was her age. At 22, I couldn’t make a presentation in front of a classroom without my voice shaking so much I sounded like I wanted to cry. My parents still folded my laundry for me. And I had no idea (and wasn’t much interested in) how my English degree would translate into a career.

Meanwhile, Sarah Cahill already calls herself a consultant, a word usually reserved for experts who occasionally come out of retirement in order to make some extra cash.

All of this makes me very happy — and thankful for the insight. Most encouraging is that this social media stuff isn’t actually so bad. Following Patagonia and Chacos is actually kind of fun. I see a lot of craggy mountains in my feed and it reminds me that I’m in the midst of climbing one too.

Sway Essay is a college admissions essay editing service. You can visit it at

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