UPDATE: I wrote this in 2010 as I was just getting started in my social media career. A lot has changed, but much of what I’ve written here is still valid. Since I still get many shares, questions and comments here and on social media 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 like Farmville. 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 R+L Carriers and Ford (to name a couple) are embracing social media as a legitimate marketing tool. Ford experimented with social media by launching their new Ford Explorer exclusively on their Facebook page. R+L Carriers uses its social media presence to create relationships with followers by posting shipping tips, industry news and articles to help the businesses that use their services thrive.
You might be wondering where Social Media Analysts come from and what they do all day.
Where does a Social Media Analyst come from?
Social Media Analysts typically come from a marketing background with a heavy reliance on web-based technologies. Some come from Internet or IT positions, some from traditional marketing positions 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?
The first thing most analysts 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, an analyst 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 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, analysts 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 Analysts 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 this simply a new fangled marketing position?
A social media analyst 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.
At the end of the day…
A Social Media analyst position is about promoting a company’s brand and company culture through new technologies and nontraditional 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!