Social media and community managers are the voices of their brands in social media, serve as social strategists, customer service managers and content creators. Being a social media manager isn’t just posting on Facebook, tweeting or pinning. Yes, that’s a part of the role, but there’s a lot more that goes with it. Since jobs vary at each company there isn’t a universal potion to make a social media program work. Here are a few things I’ve learned during my tenure that may help emerging or veteran social media managers, or just those who want to know what we do all day!
Expect constant learning and lots of reading
If you don’t like reading, writing or learning, this isn’t the role for you. I didn’t realize how much reading I would be doing in this role until I started. Social media channels are constantly changing so you need a natural curiosity. Social media moves quickly and you’ll fall behind or miss opportunities to explore the new shiny toy or the next big thing if you aren’t regularly browsing blogs for breaking news about tools, upgrades and emerging trends. Be a regular reader of blogs like HubSpot, Social Media Explorer, Spin Sucks, Waxing UnLyrical, Mashable, and other such blogs. I could list all of the blogs I follow, but I’m afraid you won’t read the rest of my blog post.
Sharpen your writing pencil, er, keyboard
As a social media manager you have to be able to write very very well. Yes you use “short form” writing on social networks, but the principles still apply. I think Mana Ionescu said it best, “Writing is story-telling, it’s math, it’s music, it’s poetry, it’s logic. It’s the ability to write your story in a way that allows our audience to empathize with it yet be fair, balanced and rational. And then you have to be able to let your writing belong to someone else, your audience.”
Be friendly, responsive and patient not impulsive or reactive
Being a social media manager is more than tweeting positive thoughts and brand building. You have to like people and be social. You have to enjoy engaging and responding to comments on social media sites, be attentive to your community daily, and defuse troublesome, obnoxious or rude personalities with kindness and patience. The ability to look at things from another person’s perspective is imperative. You need tough skin. It’s natural to get frustrated or stressed on busy days full of questions and complaints. But just breathe. There’s always going to be a group of naysayers or people you just can’t satisfy no matter how hard you try. Don’t beat yourself up over it and let a few bad apples spoil the bunch.
The biggest challenge for me was learning to trust myself. I was terrified to send out my first tweet and post my first blog. I wasn’t losing followers or fans, I was getting positive (and sometimes negative) feedback from colleagues, our community was retweeting, sharing and commenting on what I posted so I must have been doing something right. Eventually, the trust came and I felt comfortable in my role. People even started calling me an expert. Me, an expert?! Um, no definitely not…I cringe when people call me the “e” word!
Just because you came of age using Facebook or Twitter, doesn’t mean you can manage and implement online communities on social media sites successfully. Having a writing background and online communication experience were crucial for me. Well-written, timely content drives the social web and knowing how to communicate online can save your brand from a disaster.
When I started at Cision in March 2007, I didn’t know how sad I would be to say goodbye five and a half years later. Looking back it’s been a great experience and has prepared me for the next phase of my life. I leave you in the hands of the talented Lisa Larranaga, our new social media manager. Some of you may recognize her since she is a fellow Cision blogger.
Thank you so much to my amazing colleagues who always rose up to all challenges and made office life a lot more fun. Thank you to my boss and mentor for believing in me and encouraging me these past five and a half years. And thank you to Cision and the readers of this blog for embracing me and allowing me to grow with you. I will miss each and every one of you!!