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10 Things Only Social Media Managers Would Understand

10 Things Only Social Media Managers Would Understand

Picture the scene – you’re at a party and having a nice conversation with a group of interesting people. As everyone starts talking about what they do, an uncomfortable silence falls upon the gathering. Unfortunately, someone invited the social media manager and no-one knows what they do.

My name is Tom and this situation is a familiar one. The role of social media manager is a misunderstood one and so many people believe they just sit on Twitter all day. Worse, they often think the job is simple and can be accomplished by anyone.

As these uncomfortable silences are getting annoying, here are ten things which only people in my profession understand:

1. They are skilled marketing professionals

The role of a social media manager is an extremely challenging one and so much more complicated than just writing a few tweets every day. To begin with, there are several different social platforms to work with – each with their own separate identity.

A social media strategy has to fit into a client’s wider campaign. This requires an integrated approach with different elements of marketing, be they PR, PPC, or SEO, to get the best results possible.

This mix between strategic planning and collaboration dispels another myth about social media – this job cannot be done by everyone. In fact, according to the Huffington Post, almost 60% of social media professionals have previously worked at an advertising, marketing, or PR agency. They are experienced professionals.

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To really get an idea of how skilled these individuals are, Buffer – an essential tool in the social media world – created an article that looks into most of the things social media managers do on a daily basis. While this likely differs between professionals, it’s certainly a great resource for further reading.

2. They know everything about your audience

No-one quite understands your audience like a social media manger. While other professionals will focus on fulfilling the client’s demands, these individuals are in a unique position to directly liaise and interact with the customer’s target market.

Over time, this allows social media managers to learn what makes an audience tick. Consequently, they are able to create engaging content which appeals to them directly. In turn, this enables them to have a range of different strategies for each social media platform which can be further refined to ensure each part of a client’s audience is targeted.

3. They have a pipeline of topics – prepared months in advance

One common misconception of social media managers is that they just jump on the latest trend and attempt to make the most out of popular culture. While these professionals have to be flexible and react to developments quickly, they also have a strategy to boost a client’s online presence.

Social media needs a purpose – and whether creating blog posts, reaching followers, or looking at competitor activity, this is not a job which can be done on an ad-hoc basis.

4. They are often fantastic writers

Obviously, I cannot speak for everyone in this profession – and Muphry’s Law now dictates that I will have made at least one spelling/grammar mistake in this article – but social media managers should be fantastic writers.

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This is more than just thinking creatively to squeeze complicated subjects into 140 characters, the social media manager must be a savvy blogger who is also able to communicate clearly with customers.

While your friends will forgive spelling mistakes on Facebook chat, you can bet that your audience will not.

5. They have all the data

As already discussed, social media managers do not operate in a vacuum. They work alongside other departments to accomplish an integrated campaign. Regardless, this doesn’t mean that successes cannot be attributed to the social media team and the data they collect can be incredibly useful to strategists.

For example, using the correct tracking, social media managers can show a variety of different things, such as:

  • Conversions – through sign-ups and enquiries
  • The most popular channels
  • The most popular posts
  • The best times for posting

6. They are unfortunately prone to epic sugar/caffeine crashes

Technically, this is probably true for all marketing professionals. I’ve been working for about 6 hours today, and just eaten a sharing bag of chocolate while moving onto my fifth cup of tea.

Sometimes I worry about the state of my health…

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Social media is in a constant state of flux and those working in the industry are no stranger to tight deadlines, having to master Google’s algorithm changes, and working late shifts. Combine this with the fact that most of us eat at our desks and sugar/caffeine crashes are inevitable.

We also often need the extra energy to make it through the day.

7. They never sleep

This has nothing to do with the vast amounts of sugar they consume, but social media managers have to be active even when asleep. Unfortunately, people don’t stop using the internet outside of working hours and it is therefore essential to do some degree of automation.

This becomes especially challenging if a client’s audience is based halfway around the world. If they are active at 3AM, then that’s when a social media manager should be available. This brings me onto Buffer.

An essential social media tool, this allows professionals to schedule updates while they’re away from their computers. Frankly, I don’t know where I’d be without it.

8. They live, breathe, and get popular culture

Every social media manager should be well versed in current affairs and able to understand how this affects the content they’re producing. Furthermore, this skill is essential for interacting with their audience as customers want someone who understands them.

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Get this skill right, and you’ll have followers eating out of your hands. Get it wrong, and your audience will go elsewhere.

9. Their industry is often underrated

Did you know that more than 90% of firms use social media to promote their business while almost three quarters claim to have generated new leads from Facebook alone?

This is quite an interesting statistic but, unfortunately, social media as an industry is often underrated. For example, according to an article on Social Media Today, nearly 40% of CEOs reportedly don’t care or slightly care about their company’s social media reputation. Furthermore, more than 30% of firms don’t have a social media strategy and just 21% of small businesses intended to increase their social media budgets in 2013.

Although these attitudes are changing, there is no doubt that this industry is sometimes taken less seriously than more established professions, such as PR.

10. They have no idea what the future holds

Social media is a rapidly changing industry. Every year, it develops and becomes something new. Consequently, marketers must adapt their strategies accordingly. As an example, increasing numbers of over 50s are now using Facebook while smartphones have opened up a whole new range of opportunities.

While this can seem daunting, I think it’s actually pretty exciting. After all, new changes bring new strategies. This, in turn, brings new ways to interact with customers. As a result, I’m in an industry which is never boring.

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Last Updated on April 9, 2020

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common types of leadership and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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