What you need to know about managing social media

what-you-need-to-know-about-social-media-managementWhile in a local Facebook group, I recently came across a post offering local moms the opportunity to “learn” social media so that they could open their own consulting business for the low, low price of $25. The post said that anyone could do it and that the hours were great.

As you can imagine, with any “get rich quick” scheme, women were interested in droves. I, on the other hand, was horrified. In response to this, and in an effort to dispel the myth that social media management is a job “anyone can do,” I have put together a list of 10 things you may not know about being a social media and managing a brand’s accounts. If you are a brand–small or large–please read this carefully, as well. It should come in very handy when you come across those who say they have social media chops.

  1. Social media managers need to have a communications background. Period. If you don’t have a background in PR or marketing (or journalism), I highly recommend you at least enroll in a college-level PR or marketing course before promising to run someone’s social media. If you are a brand and meeting with possible social media candidates, just “knowing” social isn’t enough. These days everyone “knows social,” but do they understand the implications of using social media poorly, how to use it effectively or how to leverage it for your brand’s success? Managing one’s personal account is not background enough. It is important for brand’s to look at for managers and consultants who have been in the trenches, devising strategy and studying the ins and outs of the fickle social media landscape.
  2. Social media is, first and foremost, a brand’s public statement. There was a time that we relied on press releases to be a brand’s official statement on pretty much anything, but together social media often takes the place of the press release. Whether a brand is publishing an adorable photo or making a statement after a troubling incident related to their product or service, social media is often the first (and sometimes only) communication outlet the public comes in contact with. Just imagine you own a store and there is an incident at your store that injures several patrons, or you own a restaurant and there is a food-born illness outbreak. Would you want someone who learned social media in an hour or so handling what the public would be hearing from you or someone with a bit more communications know-how.
  3. The hours aren’t easy. I begin checking my phone for social media engagement the second my eyes open, and I am still checking long into the night. Social media isn’t a 9-to-5 job–especially if it turns out that your client’s fans aren’t on social media 9-to-5, which is the case more often than not.
  4. Social media requires a plan. Posting on a whim without a plan is an absurd notion. No brand would conduct their print or broadcast media that way, nor should any brand do their social that way either. And I’m not just talking about just planning content–which in and of itself can be a grueling job–there is the need to plan for crisis, complaints and unwanted content and engagement the brand receives; the need to coordinate with other marketing and PR campaigns; graphics; video production and more. If your social media manager doesn’t have a plan or strategy, you might as well do it yourself.
  5. Social media is all about the analytics and analysis. All social media managers live in a world of numbers. We are constantly measuring engagement and looking at how posts did (and did not) perform. We use these numbers to drive our future outreach and efforts and track our successes… and our failures. Not every campaign is going to be a hit, but there is no way to know how we’ve done if we aren’t measuring progress. As a social media manager, I spend not just hours, but DAYS compiling data reports for my clients to show our social media successes, spikes and areas needing improvement. I work with them to analyze where and when we need to alter our communications focus. Communication is an art, but social media communication is an art AND a science.

I love my job. I love my clients. I have worked hard to get where I am at, and I am dedicated to providing my clients with the return on investment from my services that they deserve. I believe that social media clients take a big leap of faith when hiring someone to manage their accounts; they are essentially handing over the keys to their public microphone, and if someone screams into it incorrectly, the results can be very damaging and long lasting. Social media is serious business these days, and anyone in the industry who doesn’t treat it as such should stick to posting on their own accounts.

I made this graphic thanks to the free social media button download on the blog Life With Munchers.