How to Work With a Social Media Manager

Successful social media communities require strong leadership behind a careful, organized strategy. If you’ve decided to invest in a social media consultant, analyst, strategist, or anyone else with the word “social media” in their title, keep in mind these thoughts as you move forward with executing your plan.

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Educate your internal decision makers

Social media managers can not operate in a silo. One of the biggest challenges for any company entering the social media realms is to educate the decision makers about the dynamics of culture that surround social media communities. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, all have unique online cultures, some overlapping, that require keen understanding and strategy.  Before that first tweet, bring together your decision makers in marketing, sales, customer service and yes even front line operations, and have a conversation with them about your intended goals. Brainstorm with them for ideas on engagement, and what you hope to build by using social media. Decide what is realistic, and what will be required to succeed.

Understand your audience

You’ve heard this before, but it’s worth repeating. Know who you want to connect with, where they are, and what they look like. Age, sex, location, scale, interests, focus, all impact your success. It doesn’t pay to have a huge following of social media analysts if you’re trying to sell shoes, or encourage support for a foundation. Look for your intended audience and start engaging there. This isn’t to say that social media analysts don’t occasionally buy shoes, but you get my point.

Map Responsibilities

Decide who will be responsible for the daily postings and interactions. Remember that this individual’s personality will largely determine your company’s overall voice, so choose carefully. Qualities that make for a successful community manager include a desire to be helpful, credibility, the ability to be brief and concise, creativity, a sense of humor, fearlessness, and a strong background in business.

Provide the necessary authority

Once your strategy is in place and you’ve chosen your community manager, give them the authority to get the answers they need quickly.  Nothing can bring down a good community faster than a lack of response to sincere questions and concerns. Without the authority to respond quickly, or without cooperation from the entire organization, the community manager is left hanging. Remember, this is your company’s voice and a customer facing portal. Make sure your manager has the support he or she needs to keep that voice in relationship with your brand.

Lose the Fear

Please don’t restrict your community manager to conversations only about your brand. Who likes to converse with someone that talks about themselves incessantly? Yes, your social media accounts exist to build brand awareness, build sales, and develop leads and support around your brand; however, remember that people engage in an activity because something is in it for them, so make sure you’re providing something of value to your fans. Don’t be afraid to let your hair down a little bit. Reach out and see what you, through your social media pages, can offer your followers. What do they care about? How can you provide that to them? Don’t be afraid of looking vulnerable or a little silly. This isn’t traditional marketing, this is a conversation.

Don’t count, measure

Don’t judge your social media manager by the number of followers they bring in. Stop obsessing about your Klout score and instead, check click through rates, referred traffic and the quality of engagement on your pages. Who are your followers? Do you have a strong core group of fans and followers that reflect the type of community you’re trying to build? Are they interacting? That’s what counts. If you place emphasis on numbers you’re incentivizing your community manager to focus on the wrong target.

What are you looking for in a social media manager? I’d love to know your thoughts. Share them here with me or on Twitter @suereynolds or Facebook .

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Take Leadership of your Company’s Social Media Strategy

Social media strategists take note! One of the most challenging aspects of running a social media campaign for a large organization is to coordinate the communications between departments. Many social media strategists find themselves in the marketing department, which really does the position, and the company, a disservice. Yes, social media professionals should be aware of and participate in marketing campaigns, but that isn’t the whole story. Participating in social media should also involve monitoring conversations about your brand and products, reaching out to help when appropriate, providing customer service, and offering information that adds value to your business community.

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If your business is involved in launching a social media strategy, or if you’ve been participating for some time but aren’t seeing the results you expected, ask yourself if your company fits this description.

  • Departments are siloed
  • Social media is seen as marketing
  • When you ask for input department heads tell you they don’t have time
  • Team leaders are not included in social media efforts
  • Department heads can’t provide the answers to questions posed on social media pages, or they don’t think it’s important
  • Timely responses are impossible to come by

Social media in many companies is still in its infancy. I am fortunate to work for a forward thinking company that realizes how important being social is to their community; however there are many companies that still don’t get it. There is so much potential, if companies would only stop doing social and start being social. Relegating social media to just a marketing task fails to take advantage of the broad spectrum of interactions that can, and will happen, on your social media pages.

In a perfect world the strategist should coordinate efforts from customer service, marketing, human resources and, sometimes, front line operations, to facilitate the company in being social as an organization. Companies need to embrace this philosophy before their social media efforts will truly be successful.

If you find yourself in the position of social media manager in these circumstances, take heart! Step up and take leadership of the effort, provide meaningful metrics to measure your past successes, and ask for more support and coordination. Talk about what you are doing within the company and why you’re doing it. Involve the thought leaders and the decision makers in your company, and sell what you are doing to them. Your efforts will provide big dividends in the long term.

What’s your biggest social media challenge?

What Does a Social Media Analyst Really Do All Day?

Get a Job!

Get a Job!

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!

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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!

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