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The Good and Bad of Being a Social Media Manager

You mean you just get to sit on the Internet and look for cool stuff to tweet about?

Well, sort of. For anyone who has ever managed a social media page, I think you’ll agree this is only half-true. A lot of my job does revolve around “finding cool stuff to tweet about,” but I wouldn’t describe it as “sitting on the Internet.” Content management is hard work. Proving your business is worth a client’s time and money is hard work. And keeping from getting distracted while on Facebook or Twitter is hard work.

Many people, in my opinion, have a misperception of what it really is like to manage a brand’s social media. I have worked for a social media marketing agency for a year now, and I’ve learned it’s nothing like a personal account. When you have your own account, followers matter, but the end result is ego stroking. With the clients I manage, the end result is continued business. The stakes are a little higher.

Also, no one performs analytics on their own account, has set times of the day in which to post, or performs contests. A brand’s social media account is much more intense than anything else.

In the past year, this has been my experience with social media.

The good:

  • I get to learn about things…all the time:  I took a personality test one time that told me one of my leadership skills was “input,” a fancy way for saying I like to collect facts and store them inside my head. I never quite figured out how this was a leadership skill, and the only practical benefit this has is that I can remember passwords easily. But it does help explain why I like creating social media content. Like most people who work for marketing or public relations agencies, I know a lot about a lot of things. Shelten Media (my employer) is based in the Triangle-area of North Carolina, and a good chunk of our clients are as well. I grew up in Raleigh, thinking I’d seen it all – until I started working at Shelten. Only then did I learn about Raleigh’s unique restaurants, up-and-coming small businesses, and hundreds of events. It’s a mental hoarder’s gold mine.
  • The informality fits my personality:  Usually, social media is fun. There’s a casual atmosphere on the Internet that is nonexistent in print. I’ve pitched bloggers to cover our clients a few times (and I still write press releases), but for the most part, I get to enjoy making our clients look good in a relatively informal way. We have a comedy club as a client, which means some of my time goes toward looking at funny Internet memes. Is there a better way to earn money?
  • I can work in my pajamas, if need be:  The great (and sometimes not-so-great) thing about the Internet Age is its omnipresence. Facebook and company have been shifting their business models towards mobile platforms for a few years now, which means a phone and a few brainwaves are all I need to do my job. It’s still hard work, but I don’t need to rely on any special software or specific locations to get the job done.

The not so good:

  • It’s endless:  The downside is that, like knowledge itself, social media can be endless. Some companies hire social media content managers who spend 40 hours a week working on one organization’s account. It quickly becomes a “you get out what you put in” scenario. It’s easy to understand why companies (namely, our clients) just outsource the whole process.
  • It doesn’t help that I’m competitive:  If you decide to pursue social media marketing, know that you’ll have to live with the reality that you could ALWAYS be doing something more. There’s always one more tweet to send out, one more person you can get to like your Facebook status, one more clever hashtag to create. One of the most important things I’ve learned is to find a balance between what I could do and what I should do to get great results for our clients.
  • Any mistake you make has the potential to be seen by millions of people:  It’s a good thing medical history has made significant progress since the 20th century. Otherwise, the trauma ward would have far higher counts of heart attack victims, coming from social media managers that posted content to the wrong account. Hoostuite’s icons are so inconspicuously tiny, that what starts as a great tweet about a local steak special can end up disastrously spread to the followers of a non-profit that advocates veganism. With as much content that we provide the site, Buzzfeed should send out an annual thank you letter to all the social media managers who screw up.

To read more about what a social media manager does, and why he or she is important to the company, check out another ASPE-ROI blog posts.

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