“What do you do? Social media? Ohhh, the Twitter and Facebook thing. “
“My teenage daughter’s all over Twitter, she’d love that job.”
“I work in an office all day.”
Yep, you got it, all I do…all day long…is play on Facebook while you use skills and work.
At least I get paid for it, right?
Sure, I can also hook up your wife or girlfriend so she can do what I do, too. No, really, it’s okay that you asked. You’re the 12th person this week. While we’re on the subject, can you hook up my 12-year-old with a job? He’s available and has always wanted to be a computer repairman/nurse/cable guy..because you know we can all just do whatever job sounds good, right? No training necessary, right?
Somedays I can’t decide if I’m more annoyed at the people who think that you can’t really be working if you’re at home all day or the people who think a social media job is tweeting and updating clever statuses while propped up on the bed watching Lifetime, one hand in the bon-bon box as your numbers rise because you are oh so funny. Have a Facebook account for a year with 3,211 close, personal friends and a Twitter account with 28 followers and you’re ready for the big time, right?
Not so fast.
Social media is a lot more than increasing Likes and witty repartee.
In reality, it’s brand and reputation management with a big side of marketing. It takes patience and persistence, creativity and insight. Logic, the ability to listen and enough humility to know when to say “I’m sorry,” even when it’s not your fault. And it needs to be genuine.
The skill to craft an appealing tweet is a good thing to have – a necessity in the field of social media – but so is being open-minded, willing to learn, with a serious attention to detail.
You know when you send your friend a text and your intended phrase, “that sucks” turns into “that sucka” and you laugh? Social media management is like that..except you can’t use the word “sucks” and any typo you make is seen by tens of thousands, if not more.
Misspell something? You’ll get called on it, and if it’s not right away, don’t get excited that you’re off the hook. Someone WILL notice.
That first typo or spelling error? You’ll want to die a thousand deaths.
Numbers matter a lot in social media, so if you don’t like math – even the kind you can do on a calculator – this may not be your field. Good social media tools will provide percentages and stats, but you’ll still need a decent grasp on basic math skills. You also have to be able to analyze them and turn them into actionable insights.
Don’t like to read? Run in the opposite direction. Quickly. Things move fast in social media and you’ll need to know how to research white papers and industry news. You’ll spend a fair amount of time keeping up-to-date on the field of social media overall, success stories and fails, and learning from social media pros with experience to share. Then there are conferences and meet-and-greets. (Which I happen to love…)
Details bore you? Another reason to back away from the “submit my resume” button. Being a good social media manager means you do a lot of listening, and I don’t mean <much> with your ears. You’ll need to be all over the internet, watching for mentions of your brand and finding places to promote and engage…of course without spamming. Listen for what works and what doesn’t, notate it and keep it for future reference and comparison.
Speaking of comparison, you’ll spend time daily seeing what has changed for your brand and doing your best to ascertain why. You’ll also keep an eye on your competitors. (If I have to tell you why…..) Lots of new Likes? Why? Numbers went way down? Why? Repeat.
Can you juggle? You’ll need to as a social media manager. You’ll have numerous projects up in the air at once – the things I’ve mentioned above in addition to reports, developing editorial calendars, meeting with other departments..the list goes on.
Oh, yeah, and content. Blog content, interactive tweets, Facebook status updates and conversational replies, Pinterest photos and pinning of others’, and remembering your Google+ account and Instagram as well. All at the same time AND while you’re doing the aforementioned juggling of other projects.
You’ll want to buy stock in steno pads and pens for To Do lists and ideas you come up with at 3am.
You have to like people, because you may need to develop a team of volunteer leaders, people who will help be a brand ambassador or contribute content. You’ll have to be a diplomatic mediator and be quick about removing spam…but be sure you’re right, because what at first glance may seem like a pyramid scheme may very well be a sanctioned and related partner mention.
Social media happens 24/7, so you won’t necessarily be off-duty at 5pm. All throughout your normal day, you have to be diligently watching the feeds on all your channels – not only for that listening I mentioned above – but to thank your followers, answer questions, and handle customer service. If you don’t have a thick skin, it can be hard when someone goes rogue and makes it their personal mission to singlehandedly notify the entire Twittersphere that the product they bought from you didn’t meet their expectations or delivery took just a little longer. Then no matter what you do to quickly resolve the situation – because that’s the right thing to do – don’t expect them to come back and notify those who have been watching the saga that you rock and are the coolest social media manager ever for arranging free overnight shipping.
In fact, you may hear crickets after you resolve it, and you have to be okay with that.
While more and more people are using social media to praise and thank, take a look around and you’ll still see more negative commentary directed towards many businesses than positive. Enjoy that burger you ordered for dinner tonight? Cool, throw away the wrapper, wipe off the table and go about your business. Did you bite into a pickle despite telling them no pickles? Head to Twitter and tell everyone. When the restaurant gives you a free replacement meal next time you want it, it’d be cool if you were as loud online to share that the company tried their best to meet your satisfaction, but if you did, you’d be in the minority. Keep that in mind when you resolve a problem and let that be enough to make you feel good about your job.
Writing skills matter, too. You have to be able to get your point across in 140-characters without omitting one of the slashes in a url or a letter in a handle, or worse yet, a hashtag. It has to make sense. It also has to fit the face that you’ve put out there – if you aren’t yourself, people may think you are numerous people pretending to be one – so you need to be comfortable with your persona and stick with it. Formal? Casual? Snarky? Own it. Nervous? It’ll show. (On that note, let me just say that the first time I posted to calm a community fight and my first Twitter both ranked up there as OMG what did I get myself into moments. Stagefright. It’s normal, but you can’t let it cripple you. Social media isn’t for the skittish.)
Organization. Curiosity. Thinking on the fly. An artistic bent so you can come up with unique ideas for promotion or image creation.
Most importantly? You have to…without a doubt…you must enjoy talking with others. You must enjoy the big picture, the feeling of community and the knowledge that without community, social media channels don’t function as they were intended. You have to care about people, as true concern and interest in helping others can’t be faked. If you try, chances are it will be obvious.
And last but not least, teamwork. Even if you’re a social media marketing team of one, you’ll work with other departments. You’ll pass along feedback and tech issues to your IT team. You’ll let your sales team know if their newest initiative is a hit or a miss. Business Development may rely on you to help seed a new idea and gauge interest or provide feedback to a prospective partnership. Managers of other departments will need to know what you’re learning and ask you to help them share their own projects, news or sponsorships.
In other words, social media is a heck of a lot more than meets the eye..and I’ve not even covered it all. Social media management positions are widely varied and some companies add more, take away some or mix in another position altogether. No matter what the job description is, it’s come a long way and is now an integral part of a successful business interested in growing their audience and meeting their needs in a way traditional marketing no longer can do.
Still interested in me setting your wife up so she can do what I do while still having your house clean and dinner on the table when you come home? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
We didn’t eat until 7p tonight but I do have a sparkly office. Like the zebra stripes? Yeah, they do indeed cover up the treadmill off to the right that takes away from the professional look and feel I’m so striving for! 😉 (I even had sparkles on the photo but decided I was having too much fun with Pixlr-O-Matic and needed to dial it down a notch.)
I didn’t answer non-work-related calls today but once, I didn’t get to the mailbox and that trip to Fresh and Easy? Maybe tomorrow night. Maybe not. But I did put in a productive day at work, give my son a snack after school, and contribute to the family budget. Not a bad gig at all for a mom in a day and age where people say moms can’t have it all. It’s not easy, but I get pretty close. I’m lucky to have 17+ years now in a field I enjoy, and that’s cool enough for me. (And I really am cool…just ask my kids…)