The many (10?) faces of a social media manager

Thursday, November 27, 2014 | 9am

I think it’s pretty safe to say that all social media managers also double up as serial stalkers; you have a name, throw it across and we’ll find out their complete social bio-data.

But while we spend a lot of time in the social space, following, liking, sharing and generally listening, there are many other facets to what we do – and many faces to our personas. Social media is still a relatively new phenomenon for top level management, so is often poorly understood and not held in the same high regard as other forms of marketing. If that’s the case for social media, where on earth does that leave the social media manager?

My take on the many faces of a social media manager is an attempt to demystify the role and to underline its value to the business. So what are we?

1. A detective
Yes, the stalking thing. A significant part of a social media manager’s role involves intensive research in the social media space. We seek to identify and attract potential customers and communities , we listen to existing customers to  gain insight into their behaviours, we engage with influencers  to encourage advocacy, and we’re continually alert to trending topics and the stories that are capturing the attention of our clients’ audiences.

2. A sentinel
Speaking of being alert, a social media manager is continually checking e-mail and notifications from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs to see who’s followed, re-tweeted, favourited, liked, shared or commented on our posts or on those of our communities or influencers.

3. A military tactician
Social media managers need to be able to organise like a field general. Weekly and daily posts need to be scheduled, put live and monitored, content must be sourced or created, influencers and trends need to be tracked, comments and queries swiftly responded to, internal meetings scheduled and managed to ensure a steady stream of ideas, external stakeholders reported to, and all activity continuously  measured, evaluated, refined and improved.

4. An influencer
It’s our job not only to find external influencers, but to be one too. Making friends and influencing people has never been a more appropriate phrase. A social media manager should be able to grow communities by attracting new followers, engaging existing ones and extending reach and advocacy by turning them into fans. Many organisations want to see growth without investment, but growing a community organically is a challenging job, and takes longer than many clients or superiors realise.

5. A squirrel
We are experts at squirrelling away the best content, quotes, stats and facts, all with a view to repurposing it and serving it up as engaging content when needed.

6. A writer
And a writer of consummate agility and flexibility. Not only are we required to create content for a wide range of channels, but it invariably has to be produced instantly and often reactively. If there’s a topic we spot that’s causing a reaction amongst our target groups, it’s not unusual to respond with a content piece, some comments and several tweets. We also need to respond appropriately to posts from others – and that’s all in addition to the scheduled posts already on the content calendar. One of the biggest challenges is tone of voice. Different brands have different tones of voice but sometimes, what works best for social media can be slightly different to their normal tones. Often that’s hard for a business to understand, but remember, social media is all about engaging with each platform’s users, so it may be necessary to tweak your own tone to better suit theirs.

7. A broadcaster
Creating, curating and sharing content, to the right audiences at the right time and in the right way. I’d also include keeping everyone informed under this heading. It’s imperative to report on activity and results, whether that’s internally, externally or both.

8. A newsreader
For me, as someone who has jumped to social media from being a journalist and a copywriter, the most blessed part of the job is gaining new insights about brands, marketing and general knowledge. We have to read, read and read some more – all with a view to becoming expert in our subject areas and so more credible when writing about key issues and engaging with influencers.

9. A compulsive obsessive
You really do need to be continually checking for updates and be obsessed with monitoring, reacting and improving. And that means morning, noon and night!

10. An addict
You’ve got to love the internet and be prepared to be switched on 24/7. Personally I can’t function without the web. I’m a complete addict and as I’ve said, almost a stalker. If I wake up at three in the morning for a glass of water, I can’t help but have a sneaky look at my Twitter feed before I fall back asleep. The online world never sleeps and as far as I’m concerned, that’s its beauty.

Social media has grown almost unimaginably since its inception, but there are still so many new things to discover about it. Platforms change, new softwares emerge and with those, new strategies. And while this has its challenges, it’s also what makes being a social media manager very, very exciting!

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