What exactly does a social media manager actually do?
Running a business is a more than a full-time job, especially in the beginning when so much is front-end loaded, and so many things are being set up for the first time. There are lots of things to get your head around and make time for, and the learning curve is steep and long. Marketing your business through social media is one of a plethora of things on your mind.
Social media makes sense and you want to get onboard, but how does anyone find the time to manage social media accounts on top of everything else, and how do you know where to start anyway? Social media management sounds like it could be a solution, but what is it exactly, and what are you paying a social media manager to do?
Here’s a list of 7 things a great social media manager does for you and your business;
1. Marketing strategy
Social media can be a lot of fun, but at the end of the day, you’re spending your business time and resources on social media to get business results. Anyone can post on social media, but it takes a marketing professional to design and implement a social media marketing strategy, analyse the data and tweak the plan to achieve the best results.
A marketing professional understands fundamental marketing principles, like branding and positioning, and can apply them to a social media strategy designed to achieve your specific business goals. This should never be a one-size-fits-all approach. Your social media manager should be taking the time to dive deep not only into what you want to achieve for your business, but what your values are, what you want to be known for, what matters to you and your business the most. These underlying values are what makes your brand and your marketing strategy stand out.
There’s a lot of data that comes with social media and while your social media manager should have the analytical skills to decipher that data and extract insights and knowledge, a true marketing professional will always put people and relationships first. There are things, like genuine goodwill and generosity that are difficult to extract data on, or pin a definite return on investment, but these are business and marketing non-negotiables that a professional will honour and which, over time, you will see reflected in your bottom line.
Marketing is a science, an art, a profession, and a discipline that can mean the difference between a mediocre business and one that booms. Find a social media manager that has a marketing background, experience and qualifications - your success is worth it.
2. Content creation
Content is any form of information on the internet, so it includes social media updates, images, video, blogs, e-books, podcasts etc. Marketing and social media run on content - messages and information that you want to share with others to grow your business.
Content serves many purposes for a business like gaining exposure and awareness about your brand or business, engaging & interacting with your audience and customers, promoting your products or services, gaining feedback from the market or industry and so on. That’s why in addition to being a capable marketing strategist and analyst, your social media manager needs to be good at creating content.
This involves skills like the ability to write and communicate to a very high standard, copywriting, design and imagery. Not only does your social media manager need these skills to produce excellent content, but that content needs to be created as a piece in your overall strategy. It needs to make sense in the bigger marketing picture and contribute to achieving the goals that strategy was designed to achieve.
Furthermore, each piece of content needs to be adapted for each network. Not only are the technical requirements for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, for example, all different, but each network has a different tone and ‘vibe’, which means that what works on one, may not work on another. One message, or piece of content therefore is adapted both technically, as in size of images, character limitations and use of links, as well as communicatively, that is, saying the same thing in a way that better suits each network’s audience.
Your social media manager should be excellent at producing high quality written content that matches your strategy and which looks amazing on social media. Attention to detail and creativity in producing amazing images to accompany brilliant copy absolutely has to be of the highest standard. Don’t let your brand down with poor content.
3. Community building and communications management
Facilitating connection between others and with your brand or business to build a community is one of the key goals of social media marketing. People don’t have relationships with businesses or brands, they have relationships with other people, collections of which we call communities.
Communities are created when people find they have something in common because we gravitate to people that are like ourselves. They’re important in business because it’s a way of scaling relationships, if you like. Relationships can foster loyalty and word of mouth in ways that are invaluable to growing your business, and this happens when people don’t just engage with the company, but start engaging with each other.
Community building takes time and requires someone who is an excellent communicator and facilitator, someone who is good at connecting with people and who is good at connecting others and someone who can set the tone and promote the values of the community through their interactions.
4. Project management
There’s a lot going on when you’re managing social media accounts, especially for multiple clients, as social media managers do. It’s imperative therefore that your social media manager is an excellent project manager.
You want them to be following an implementation plan and using scheduling tools to ensure your content is posted consistently when and where it should be. They should be working on creating and scheduling content well in advance so there’s never any last minute scramble and compromise on quality. You should have access to the implementation plan so that you know what’s being posted and when - there shouldn’t be any surprises, except for maybe some nice little bonuses and of course results that exceed your expectations :)
The other important aspect of project management is your social media manager’s ability to understand and respond to the changing needs of your business. That is, in addition to implementing the strategic plan, they also need to be adaptable and flexible to things that change. These are not always negative things and can include things like an upcoming event, or the unexpected response to a product, or piece of content. You want your social media manager to be able to minimise any negative impacts as well as identifying and maximising opportunities for your business.
5. Customer service management
This is similar to community building, but I think it deserves a category of its own because customer service is so important. Even if you have your own customer service reps, your social media manager is often going to be in the position of seeing questions and comments on your social media accounts before anyone else, therefore it’s really beneficial for them to respond quickly and accurately.
Your social media manager becomes the voice of your business in many ways so making sure they are very familiar with your business, its products, services, processes and employees, means they have the opportunity to be an extra set of eyes and ears in the trenches. Understanding questions and comments in the context of the business, and being able to respond is another way of promoting your brand, fostering community and encouraging loyalty and word of mouth, as well as learning first-hand about customer sentiment.
A good social media manager understands that looking after your customers and potential customers is key to achieving results for your business.
6. A dedication to ongoing learning and keeping a finger on the pulse
Social media is a hungry beast. Not only does it need to be fed quality content often, but it changes constantly. Keeping up with changes to network features, algorithms, and new tools, as well as knowing what’s working in your industry and what’s the latest thing people are talking about is a daunting task, and it’s part of the reason you have a social media manager.
A professional who’s dedicated to constant and ongoing learning means that your business benefits without personal effort on your behalf. Your social media manager will keep their finger on the pulse and constantly incorporate network changes and new learnings to your content and the management of your accounts.
Your social media manager lives in and can navigate the social media jungle so you don’t have to. Living in the jungle will have taught them how to keep up, survive and thrive. They’ll be able to spot new opportunities and understand the pulse of your industry not only on a local, but a global level. They’ll know where to looks for news, compelling information and movements that will keep your brand relevant and captivating.
7. Your own social media business coach
Last, but certainly not least is the role your social media manager plays in being your coach.
Life gets busy, business gets even busier. We get excited, enthusiastic, and want to move forward, take action NOW. And we also become overwhelmed and disorientated, finding it hard to make a decision, overthinking things and feeling stuck.
A really great social media manager is one that can help you to exercise patience when it’s needed and identify the best next step if you get stuck. They can become a sounding board for your ideas and a right-hand-man for turning those ideas into actions.
The key to utilising fully utilising the resources of your social media manager is in your relationship with them. The best social media managers prioritise their relationship with you because they know how important this is in the success of you both.
Your social media manager should make you feel like you’re a priority, and like they’re excited to be working with you. You should get the impression that they’re as excited about growing your business as you are, and that they’re willing to put in just as much effort. Find a social media manager who you click with because your relationship with them can make all the difference.
What do you think? Have I covered everything, or are there things you think are important that aren’t on this list? I’d love to hear your comments, after all, my journey is one of learning if nothing else.
Relax, you’ve got this.
Andrea Kelly, Pepper Street Social