What Your Social Media Manager/Team Wants You to Know
Oct 29, 2020 · 9 min read
Marketing Twitter is group therapy for social media/community managers and strategists. We cherish our jobs, projects, and clients, but face a lot of challenges as social media marketing is still perceived as new/easy/lowest on the food chain and easiest for other departments to demand things of.
I think the most important thing we want everyone to know and understand is that this is a real job — there are now degrees for it. A lot of us paved the way and created the best practices by suffering through trials, errors, and crises.
We are humans. We are a department. We spend every waking hour on the front lines of the business — one on one with consumers. We know what should and should not be posted on social, we create strategies, and yet, we often aren’t taken seriously.
A large portion of the marketing community helped me write this post, and the best way to fully relate to how we feel is:
I realize this post can come off pretty negative, but it’s our cry for understanding — help us help you. Understand who we are, what we do, and that we do much more than ‘play on our phones all day.’ And honestly, we’ve left a lot out.
I encourage any other profession to write something similar — we don’t know what we don’t know and we all want to be understood, respected, and appreciated.
In addition to everything listed below, this job is hard. We are the first person your customers or followers come to when they are MAD about a product or service and personally attack the person behind the computer. The bacon didn’t taste right? Our fault. The shipment was delayed? Our fault. There is no grace, it is immediately our fault, we suck and we better fix it.
Please remember that we are on the front lines and no one knows your engaged audience better than we do.
We cry — physically and on the inside. We have anxiety. We never feel like we are enough for our teams, ourselves and our families.
We don’t get days off, even on ‘vacation’ we are always checking social media notifications, engaging with our fans, as well as email for any potential crisis. I was managing emails and communities while in labor at the hospital because maternity leave doesn’t start until the baby is born.
2020 has been the hardest on us. From waking up on the 1st day of the state shutdown, my birthday, to losing 3 clients, and having the remaining clients freaking out and demand the world — we’ve all been burnt out since April, and it’s not letting up, and is affecting our personal lives.
We know we do a good job, but we are rarely reassured. A simple ‘thanks’ or ‘you’re doing great’ goes a long way.
We need to be reminded/encouraged to take time for ourselves — tell us to go get a massage or cut out for a bit to go have a drink with friends. We won’t take a break because we dont feel like we’re ever allowed to.
THIS IS A REAL JOB
We aren’t assistants.
Social media isn’t a service department.
We need tools — for listening, creating, scheduling and reporting.
Social media deserves its own contract/department/budget and shouldn’t be tacked on to an existing scope or marketing role.
Relying exclusively on part-time workers, particularly those who are students, interns or new hires to create and post your social media copy/assets is inherently exploitative. It sets your social media team up for burnout and your marketing strategy up for collapse when this happens.
You can’t schedule creativity.
Social media is an entire job/career. Many of us do the work of 2+ people, including the design team. We should be paid and valued as such, if not higher as we work 7 days a week.
We are busy, we are swamped, we aren’t extras in the office to take on whatever you feel you don’t have time for.
We need human support, not fancy project management tools.
Your brand does not have to be on every social network in existence — focus on the ones where your customers are, and that makes the most sense for your brand and message.
If you want thoughts or feedback on how to execute a campaign concept on social media, send the PDF at least 24 hours BEFORE we have a phone call so I can come prepared. Otherwise, we’re going to sit on Zoom and stare at each other for an hour.
We have to write for our audience, not our personal intelligence level. The average American’s reading level is that of a 12–14-year-olds.
Utilizing buzzwords in marketing offers makes my job harder to translate into human speak.
We only have a few seconds to grab peoples’ attention. Images and copy need to be clear and engaging.
We need a few days of turnaround time to properly execute social requests.
We can’t post fliers and PDFs.
You can’t make up a hashtag and expect people to use it.
Most of your demands require a budget to meet the KPIs you’re expecting (the KPIs you’ve set that don’t always make sense for social).
We can’t create a post until we have the proper creative assets, and most of the time we have to create those ourselves — rarely do we have a designer at our disposal.
The longer you take to approve a content calendar, the more likely we’ll have to reschedule posts.
Just because you want something posted doesn't mean it should be.
Links are not clickable in Instagram captions.
Hashtags aren’t cool / used on Twitter anymore.
There needs to be a healthy balance between planned content and spontaneous content. Most often, spontaneous content and engagement perform the best because it didn't go through 10 approval processes.
Not all content needs to align with some fluffy big picture mission, but it still needs to be thoughtful and have intent.
TRUST THE PROCESS
Every social media manager keeps a bank of rejected ideas (which in fact are the best ones) and they will continue to be resurfaced until they get approved.
Quality > quantity — this goes for content and followers. The number of followers is a vanity metric — we’d rather have huge engagement rates with awesome people than have 1 million unengaged followers. With that, we don’t need to post every day — we need to post when it makes sense and with really rich content!
Have patience and be realistic with follower goals. It takes time, and often budget, to build a real, engaged audience.
You don’t need to crush it on every social media channel. Own only one and break the noise consistently. You might be losing a lot of opportunities trying to conquer channels where your audience isn't.
You don’t need a social media account for every product or line of business.
If you’re going to create a social media strategy, you should probably loop in the social team first. Let’s create a plan, not just ‘throw something up’ on social.
Long term strategy can drive business impact, but one post probably won’t do anything.
It’s a lot more helpful to tell your social media manager your g oal with social media and let them bring the tactics to you, versus giving them a piece of content/hashtag/activation you think they should use. Don’t make your social media manager back into your strategy.
Social content is not free, even without paid promotion, content takes time, effort and creative resources — PAY FOR IT.
Every time you say ‘it’s just a post’ and forces your team to tweet something lame or off-brand, you’re taking an ax to their metrics (and mental health)
It’s not always about KPIs — in social, quality and time matter the most. Sure, we’ll play along with the vanity metrics you need, but you know who cares about those numbers? You. You know who cares about how many followers a page has? Just you (certainly not the fans).
Social media is fast-paced so if we are asking a question, we need an answer right away.
If you want to hop on a trend (that makes sense) we need to do it ASAP — we don’t have time to take days to plan, shoot and execute — it needs to happen NOW.
We are expected (and gladly do so) to respond to emails as soon as they come through, no matter the day or time.
We are always there for our social communities — typically responding immediately.
We don’t get nights and weekends off.
We are customer service. Consumers come to us first — they don’t want to email an info@ email or call an 800 number — they want an easy to access human at their fingertips: us.
When your institution is trending on Twitter, using the phrase “it’s just social” doesn’t justify taking 3 days to give a Pro-forma response.
Protecting and navigating the brand and supporting your user base on social media through major periods of unrest (hello, 2020) is a workstream in and of itself, and it takes careful, strategic work and emotional labor.
We need to be included in the planning/strategy/brainstorming meetings. We should be advising you on the best way to use social in the campaign or project, not the other way around.
A LOT of time goes into planning a monthly content calendar. We spend a lot of time laying the calendar out, sourcing and creating the content, copywriting, and perfecting before it goes to you for approval. There isn’t much room for random ideas and new campaigns once it gets to you.
The stuff you don’t think includes me does, in fact, include me.
Content should align with your product/brand/philosophy. Do not jump on a trending topic just because it’s trending.
Know your audience and the relevancy of your post to them.
GoiNg viRaL is not a strategy.
Many content strategists focus on the marketing side of things: the social, the products, the ads. That’s all good, but if you don't have great content from the start, what’s to market? Pay attention to what you’re linking to.
More posts are not the answer.
Meeting KPIs requires strategy, time, and budget.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA PERSONALLY
It’s really hard for us to continue to educate you on very simple aspects of social media. If you are a CMO or in the marketing department, please use social media in your personal time — look what other people are posting, how they post and etc. Most people know you can’t put a clickable link in an Instagram capation, yet we keep getting asked to.
If you don’t understand a platform or don’t personally use it, don’t shoot down ideas and strategies when it’s clear you don’t have a clue. Instead, ask questions, ask for clarification, ask for a demo or just stay quiet.
Community management isn’t for the interns. The person managing your communities is reading and responding (or at least should be) everything your brand is mentioned in. No one knows your brand’s audience and consumers better than your community manager. Not even the agency that created that pretty persona deck.
If your brand isn’t going to engage on social media with the people talking to it — why are you on social media? Do you know how many people stop using a product or service because the brand is unresponsive? A LOT.
It takes a lot of time, passion and energy to build communities. We are talking to our followers at every waking hour, and it takes time to build trust and friendships. Personally, I have brand fans of several clients that now personally text, snap or message me because we’ve built such a strong relationship.
Social media is about being social and promotion is about taking people on a journey. Blasting your offers is unlikely to drive many conversions.
Social media is supposed to be social — it’s a conversation, not a bunch of corporate taglines strung together that nobody cares about. Keep it fresh and current and be part of the dialogue.
No, I’m not posting the same post on all platforms.
Comparison is the thief of joy (and engagement)
Reputation management matters — that means reading and responding to online reviews. Most often, consumers are leaving a review instead of contacting the brand. Word of mouth is powerful.
I truly hope you read through this entire list and will bookmark it to reference next time you may hesitate or want to demand something of your social media person. Also, please trust us when you ask for advice or strategy — just like you know what you are doing in your role and we don’t question you, we know what we are doing.
I can’t think of another career that is more underrated and less understood than working in social media. We are in this job because we are amazing at it, we know what works, but most importantly — we care. Working in social media takes a very patient and empathetic person, as well as having to be creative, always on, and really great at checking notifications and emails.
Please take us more seriously. If you don’t agree with something, pose it as a productive question or conversation starter to discuss and learn.
What would you like to learn more about when it comes to social media and working with social media freelancers, contractors, and colleagues?