So you think you want be a social media manager?
With the growing popularity and demand for the perfect person to fill this role, almost every brand knows it needs someone, and almost everyone thinks they can do it. It isn't always fun and games, and there are a few things you should know before taking the next step. Here are a few myths and a few truths I wish I would have known before diving in:
1. You eat cereal in bed all day.
As much as I love Lucky Charms, there's more to being a social media manager than sugary rainbows and pots of gold goodness. It's not all so magically delicious.
Because social media is constantly changing (Instagram videos can be longer than 15 seconds now?), it's integral to stay on top of the latest cultural trends, real-time user comments and product updates. As a social media manager, you're the most public face of a brand and it's obvious — to the world and to your boss — whether you're on it or not.
2. Anybody can do it.
I can't even count the number of times I've heard “Oh, anybody can do social media these days. My mom is on Snapchat. How hard can it be?” or “I wish I got paid to post pictures all day.” If only I gained a follower every single time someone said or implied this.
Social media managers need extremely diverse skill sets (more like survival skills), especially if you work for a small business or startup. We have to be writers, analysts, editors, producers, creative directors, trend monitors, designers, videographers, photographers and storytellers. We have to wear these hats all while being major multitaskers, innovators and experts at everything.
In a matter of minutes or seconds, your mind has to toggle between 140 characters to GIFs to emojis to video back to photos to DMs to texts to messenger apps to notifications popping in and out from personal and brand social accounts.
3. You can just schedule everything and go home.
With one click of a button, everything is scheduled for the week. Now, sit back, relax and count the likes. I wish it was like that.
Social media happens in real-time. While there are a few tools that make life easier — such as scheduled posts and services like IFTTT — it's impossible to perform and stay relevant if you aren't following, engaging and newsjacking like a pro (not to mention several channels like Snapchat don't yet have robust brand tools).
Take a closer look at the feeds from a few of your favorite brands. It'll be obvious who's at the wheel and who's on autopilot.
4. Your brand needs to join and be active on every social channel.
The truth is most social teams aren't set up to have an active, relevant and creative presence on all social networks. Even if you could keep up, would that kind of fragmentation create a material impact on your business?
One of the hardest things for a social media manager to do is prioritize and focus. My boss urged me to focus on the single most important channel, which was a challenge because I wanted to do it all. He asked, “If I could nail only one channel, which would it be?” At the time it was definitely Instagram, and once I doubled down on the single most important one, we saw results.
Find your voice, your users, your sweet spot and put more wood behind fewer arrows. That's unless you have unlimited wood.
1. It's a love-hate relationship.
If you're anything like me, you'll find yourself paranoid logging in and out of your accounts making sure you're not Snapping personal stuff from your brand account and making sure you're not Instagramming work stuff from your personal account.
You're also probably checking your phone multiple times while in wine country or at a rooftop birthday party, and constantly apologizing to your friends for it. It's a relationship that you'll bring along with you on holidays and vacations.
I've definitely been guilty of asking my friends for caption ideas while in Rome (literally) and while ringing in the new year saying, “You can't spell Tilt without lit. How's that caption, guys?” It's a lot of love and a lot of hate.
2. It's not all about you.
It's OK that it's not all about you. We all think our ideas are amazing and our creativity game is on another level. Sometimes that's true. But most of the time, our feeds and followers are the best places to look to for inspiration.
Take inspiration from brands you admire and make it your own. Do you know what your followers love? What do they want to see more of? Ask them. You might be surprised.
3. Social media never sleeps.
Social media is always on around the clock. A social media crisis can happen at any hour of the day, regardless of your date night or SoulCycle class. Have an action plan and find the balance. Striking the right balance can be tough, so it's important to set boundaries and plan ahead to make sure you're able to find the happy place between capturing content and enjoying the moment.
4. It's science and fiction.
Social media is incredibly creative and stimulating, but the communicator in you will only succeed if its other half is an analyst. Write well. Design well. Tell beautiful stories. But do the math, find the trends and let data inform your decision-making whenever possible. It's easy to get fixated on aesthetics. But at the end of the day, our jobs are to use social media to help achieve a mission that's much bigger than a post.
You'll need both sides of your brain to be successful. If you're able to exercise both, you just might land the opportunity to help build a brand, company or organization from the ground up, like I've had @tilt. That is so incredibly rewarding.