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Meet Newhouse NYC’s Newest Instructor: Ariana Finlayson

A_Finlayson Headshot

Ariana Finlayson is the newest member of the Newhouse NYC teaching staff. She is the professor of Social Platforms, Processes, and Perspectives, otherwise known as the social media class. An experienced professional in the field, Ariana worked for editorial at Hearst Digital Medial ( and Wenner Media ( before moving to her current position as senior digital engagement strategist at Marina Maher Communications, where she leads the social strategy for her client, COVERGIRL. Through this class, students hear from varied professionals working in the social media industry, plus pay visits to platform offices including Twitter and Google. Continue below to learn more about Ariana!

Liesel Rickert, Senior Newhouse NYC student and PR major 

Liesel: What is a fun fact about your job?
Ariana: In leading the social strategy across seven platforms for my brand, the day-to-day is never the same, which keeps things exciting. Throughout the year, I get to attend red carpet events like The GRAMMYs, the MTV Video Music Awards, and 2015 New Year’s Eve in Times Square where COVERGIRL has been a main sponsor. I do on the ground social amplification at these events, and they’ve all been incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Liesel: How did you get your start in communications?
Ariana: I graduated with a major in print journalism from Hofstra University on Long Island. Writing for print magazines was my passion, but then I took an online media class, which spurred me to work at Hearst Digital Media. “Digital is the future,” my professors and the industry would tell me—and they were correct.

Liesel: What has been your path through the media industry to get to where you are now?
Ariana: Throughout college, I did beauty and editorial internships at CosmoGIRL, Cosmopolitan and Parenting magazines. My first job was at Hearst Digital Media, where I started as a permalancer and later was hired as the associate editor for their beauty & wellness website, Next I went to write fashion, beauty and news content at Us Weekly online (, but I also handled their Facebook and Twitter there. With this skill set, I was recruited by Marina Maher Communications to work on the COVERGIRL account, where I am now.

Liesel: What is your favorite part of working as the senior digital engagement strategist at Marina Maher Communications?
Ariana: Branding. I love taking an iconic brand like COVERGIRL, forming its voice across social, and figuring out how the brand functions on different platforms to reach their target consumers.

Liesel: What attracted you to work with social media?
Ariana: I have always been interested in branding and story telling, so I took my traditional skill set and modernized it. Social media for brands can be taking the story telling arc and placing it on a specific platform. Sure, it may be 140 characters on Twitter, or it may disappear in 10 seconds on Snapchat, but the premise of editorial writing is there.

Liesel: How do you see social media changing in the future? Even in just the next year or two?
Ariana: In the coming years, I forecast the actual term “social media” will change, just like what we saw happen to terms like “new media” last decade. What we know as “social media” will become so engrained in our everyday lives, it almost won’t need its own term. And it will become much more hyper-targeted, smarter and seamless.

Liesel: What are your favorite social media platforms for personal and professional use?
Ariana: Snapchat is my favorite for both brands and personal use. Personally I love it because it’s the only social platform you can view someone’s content in chronological order and not have to worry about an algorithm messing with who sees what when. There’s also a level of intimacy, and allows you to deliver a true inside peek into your day or mind without being too self-serving or annoying. It’s incredible to see the products being rolled out on this platform, and I’m really excited to see how brands continue to work with Snapchat to crack the code on reaching their users.

Liesel: As students, we are told to be careful of what we post online that future employers might see. What advise do you have that would instead bolster our online and social media presence in a positive way?
Ariana: This is easy—think of yourself as a brand and find your angle or shtick. Tie this angle to your brand, so maybe that’s filming your reactions to trying new foods on Snapchat or live tweeting your favorite show. As a young millennial you already have an edge on others by growing up using these tools, so take what you inherently know about social medial and put it to use. Participate in the conversation happening around your interest of choice—and own it.

Liesel: What has surprised you about teaching so far?
Ariana: This class has the ‘get it factor’ of social media already. Everyone in the class is a consumer and understands the marketing role that social medial plays for brands.

Liesel: What are your favorite things to do in NYC?
Ariana: I recommend that everyone check out Daybreaker. They’re a global organization that hosts morning dance parties at venues throughout the city. It may sound daunting to dance at 7 a.m. to house music, but it’s an incredibly invigorating way to kickstart your day. Plus, the community aspect here is strong and they offer gratis coffee, green juice and snacks to get you going. My passion lies within music, so on weekends, I’m usually checking out my favorite artists in town. Verboten in Williamsburg is one of my favorites. The venue attracts amazing producers and DJs, which populates their evening calendar, but also functions as a cultural center that offers “deep house” yoga during the week and weekend brunch. Lastly, I have to plug Citibike (now that it’s expanding uptown), because bike trips around the perimeter of Manhattan and up to the GW bridge are so much fun in the fall.

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