7 Things I Wish People Knew About Being a Social Media Manager
“So what, you just scroll Instagram all day?”
“We should hire an intern to do our socials.”
“Wait, social media is a job!?”
If you’ve ever worked in social media, or in any company with a person who handles socials, chances are, you’ve heard one (or all) of the above sentences.
For those of us who make a living managing socials, we know the truth. We know how hard it is to turn on creativity day in and day out.
Yet, social buy-in is still difficult for a lot of companies, and there are still tons of people who don’t know that working in social media is a full-time job.
So let’s dispel the myths—here are 7 things I wish more people knew about being a social media manager.
1. Creating content is extremely time-consuming
You wouldn’t think it takes a lot of time to create short pieces of content. It’s relatively easy to get your point across in a full dissertation, but if you’re limited to a certain character account (imposed by a social platform, or by engagement best practices) things get a lot trickier.
Have you ever sat down and wrote a Tweet?
I don’t mean wrote one for your personal Twitter account, or tweeted at a brand you had trouble with. I mean, wrote a Tweet with a particular message in mind, for a particular ideal customer. Have you thought about relevant hashtags, the perfect visual or GIF to go along with it, and what time you should send it out to reach as many people as possible?
Try it sometime. You might find that it takes a bit more time than you thought it would.
My tweets for 24 hours in 2016
There’s a considerable amount of work that goes into creating a single post, or series of posts, across multiple platforms.
For example, if we’re promoting something across all social channels, I’ll need to adapt the message and format of the post to best fit within each individual channel. The core message might be the same, but the text, emojis, hashtags, timing, etc. won’t be.
Typically, a social media manager will often create visuals to go with social posts, especially for promoting webinars, podcasts, and thumbnails for the videos we create.
That’s not even counting video content, which requires script-writing, practicing, recording, editing, subtitle writing, scheduling, writing the social posts for those videos, and then publishing.
A 30-second video might take two full hours from creation to publish.
2. Social media roles require you to be analytical
Despite what many who work in other disciplines might think, working in social media requires you to be obsessed with data.
Given that tracking social media has been difficult until now, there’s a lot of confusion around whether social can even be tracked in the same way other digital channels can.
However, it’s entirely possible to track social media metrics, ROI, and even connect socials through your CRM to see which of your connections interacts with your posts. Today, you can know which social posts bring in leads and opportunities for your brand.
We’re not just creating graphics in Canva all day.
3. Being a Social media manager means I wear a lot of hats
Is social media really a full-time job?
Yes. Absolutely, resoundingly yes.
As a social media manager, my day is split into:
- Strategist: What posts are working? Two similar posts got very different results—where was the variable? I have to think about why something is working when it does, and vice-versa.
- Copywriter: Being a social media manager means I also have to be a copywriter and create compelling copy for not only our corporate brands, but our employee advocates as well.
- Content Creator/video actress/scriptwriter/producer: When video is a central part of your social strategy, it means you suddenly have to get really good at writing, recording, and producing video content—and quickly.
- Scheduler: Determining when to publish what piece of content, on what day, and at what time takes some thought—especially when you’re trying to maintain the golden ratio of social content mix.
- Community Manager: Whether a customer has a problem, or someone is mentioning our brand somewhere on social media, I need to be on the lookout for what people are saying about us and to us. I need to engage with our customers at every opportunity, and make sure they have a great experience.
- Analyst: As previously mentioned, I need to stay on top of analytics and report back to the content and marketing teams on how different pieces of content performed on social media.
While that sounds like a lot (and it is), it’s part of what makes social media exciting. No two days are ever the same, and that keeps me interested in what’s next.
a social media manager’s hat collection pic.twitter.com/kgo71ZzwIY
— chi 🇺🇦 (@ChiThukral) December 14, 2021
4. Being the voice of the brand can be a lot of pressure
It’s one thing when you’re maintaining a personal brand you’ve created for yourself.
It’s quite another when you’re stepping into someone else’s brand—whether that’s corporate brands or ghost-writing social posts for your company’s leadership.
And in a space where one wrong move can send a brand spiraling into a full-blown social media crisis, there’s some pressure involved.
The more delicate the topic, the more pressure is applied.
What helps stay “in-character” for when you’re writing posts for your brand (or your boss) is to think about the audience. What’s the message? What do they want to hear? How will they react to your message?
When you have that nailed down, you can’t go wrong.
5. I’m always testing everything, all the time
When it comes to figuring out what works and what doesn’t, I have to test hundreds of variables. A post that was published in the afternoon may not get as much engagement as it does in the morning.
Maybe having a certain number of emojis might work on Instagram, but the LinkedIn version fails.
Then we add on the regular algorithm updates for each individual social network—and we’ve got to figure it out all over again.
As a social media manager, you have to be comfortable both taking risks while testing things, and analyzing those results regularly. There’s no space for stagnation on social media, and what worked today may not work tomorrow.
6. Being a product expert is critical to my success
Especially for me, and possibly to a lesser degree for others—being a product expert is necessary for me to do my job properly.
Knowing where our brand adds value to our customers, and where their pain points lie, means I can carefully craft each message to respond to that value.
Not only should I consider where our brand adds value, but I have to think about how each individual post adds value to our followers, customers, and prospects.
After all, in content creation, if you’re not adding value, you’re only creating more noise.
7. It’s a constant race
Socials don’t end. There is no “finishing the to-do list.” That doesn’t exist in my world—or in anyone’s world if you’re working in digital marketing.
It’s really easy to feel like you’re falling behind, because things are always popping up.
So how do you manage it?
The key is being ultra organized. Have a plan for everything that’s going out, and plan your day down to the minute.
It can be easy to miss things when you have so many plates spinning, so having a great organizational system is key to staying on top of it all. Working in a fast-paced industry, I like to have a plan for at least 80% of everything that goes out on social media. That 20% is wiggle-room for last-minute pop-up projects that are inevitable.
Marketers are finally understanding how important social media is to their overall strategy—and that hiring an intern to “do socials” isn’t going to cut it.
As we’re moving away from those misconceptions, a social media manager is doing more overall. We’re publishing posts across more accounts, creating more varieties of content, and participating in more initiatives across the global digital strategy.
So how can a social media manager do it all?
Being organized, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and using a great social media management platform that makes it easy.