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.
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.
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…
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.
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.