UPDATE: I wrote this in 2010 as I was just getting started in my social media career. Much has changed, but much of what I’ve written here is still valid. Since I still get many shares, questions and comments I’m leaving most of it alone – feel free to continue to comment!
When I first started my career as a corporate Social Media Analyst I had to explain my job to almost everyone I met. It was difficult convincing them that I wasn’t paid to play around on Facebook and Twitter all day since most folks at that time were familiar with the mediums only as a recreational tool. I remember having a difficult time explaining to my mother just what it was I was going to do all day. I also remember feeling compelled to explain to my office mates that, if they saw me on Facebook or surfing the Internet I was, in fact, working.
Social media sites are fun places to hang out (over 600 million on Facebook seem to think so anyway) and most people use them to stay in touch with friends from school, family and to play games or read the news. It might, for some, seem fanciful to make a career out of what, for most, is nothing but a pastime.
The truth is that careers in social media are becoming mainstream. Look around Facebook and you’ll notice that companies like Ford are embracing social media as a legitimate marketing tool. In 2010 Ford experimented with social media by launching their new Ford Explorer exclusively on their Facebook page.
You might be wondering where Social Media Managers come from and what they do all day.
Where does a Social Media Manager come from?
Social Media Managers typically come from a marketing or business background with a heavy reliance on web-based technologies. Some come from Internet or IT positions, some from traditional marketing and some from web design. A communications or journalism background is typical too. Most have a mix of traditional marketing and Internet technology skills with a strong writing or communications skill set.
What is a typical day like for a Social Media Manager?
The first thing most social media managers will do each morning is check all social media channels to see if there are any mentions of their company or brand. Social media never sleeps and since conversations on social media require an immediate response, a manager will follow up first thing, or reach out to department heads to develop a response. There is a real-time sensitivity to this activity, so timeliness is a priority.
After initial conversations are addressed, social media managers may spend time brainstorming or writing blog or web site content, planning and strategizing future campaigns, meeting with department heads to ensure strategies are on-track with marketing and customer service, and tracking campaigns and reporting. A portion of their day will be spent reading trend reports and business articles to stay in touch with the latest technologies and social media marketing theories.
Reporting is a huge part of any marketing campaign and social media is no exception. Of course, social media analysts will track basic stats like followers, click-throughs, fans, comments and traffic, but we also monitor conversations happening around the brand both on and off our pages and carefully structure responses that are in line with the company’s strategy. Often, social media managers will meet regularly with multiple departments to educate staff about the focus of the social media channel and the ways in which they can contribute and support the efforts.
The takeaway? Social Media Managers do more than tweet and post to Facebook. They are responsible for a multitude of company functions and must create relationships within the company to support their efforts.
Is a Social Media Manager simply a new-fangled marketing position?
A social media manager is position is part marketing, yes, but it’s also much more. Social Media positions include elements of customer service, product knowledge, company culture and employee relations, and a typical day might involve all these elements at once. These various responsibilities require good communication skills and the ability to gather information from multiple areas within the company. If you’re interviewing for potential candidates, check out my blog on 21 Social Media Manager Interview Questions to make sure you’re hiring a professional.
At the end of the day…
A Social Media Manager position is about promoting a company’s brand and company culture through new technologies and non-traditional platforms while interacting with current and potential customers in a real-time environment. It’s more than just posting to Facebook and Twitter. It is a fast-paced and challenging career that continues to evolve, and since the internet is never turned off, it can often be all consuming.
So rest assured Mom, I do have a real job – honest!
If you’re ready to hire a professional social media manager, contact me to get started!