Today, businesses of every size are realizing the importance of having qualified, capable, full-time staffers engaging and elevating their social media presence. However, because this role is still relatively new, some people think the job is best suited for a young intern or their own tech-savvy granddaughter.
Let me tell you from experience, social media is a tough gig. It’s a vital role that’s demanding, constantly changing, and subject to many misconceptions.
Let’s discuss some of those misconceptions, shall we?
1. It can be done by anyone.
There’s a specific skill set and a dramatic learning curve. Techniques are crucial when it comes to managing your online reputation, and, to be frank, not everyone has a knack for communicating your messaging appropriately.
The social media manager is responding to customer service questions, setting the tone and personality for your brand, and curating content that will resonate with your followers. If the person you hired is not immersed in the industry you’re targeting, chances are you’re going to get a whole lot of inspirational quotes and Internet memes instead of meaningful content.
2. All we do is “play” on social media all day.
There’s always “that person” who, when you say you work in social media, will say (or think), “So are you just playing on Facebook and Twitter all day?”
After I imagine myself pouring hot grease on them, I calmly tell them about how social media management requires a tremendous amount of strategy in order to yield a positive ROI. A social media manager’s performance should be measured with inbound marketing analytics from campaigns, content, and engagement.
Integration with the company’s overall marketing strategy should be an intricate part of the goals and objectives. Identifying and nurturing leads should be among the primary goals of a social media strategy, and the sharpest brands are working to find ways to identify and reward their brand evangelists.
3. Our job stops at the end of the workday.
Wouldn’t that be nice? Alas, there is no 9 to 5 in the social media sphere. A social media manager is expected to be “always on.” Notifications pop up continually on my iPhone.
Between customer service questions on Twitter, thoughtful comments that need responses on Facebook, and notifications on Linkedin, there really is no down time. And don’t even get me started on Instagram. It’s a common theme among my family and friends that I Instagram pretty much everything. The perfect shot, the right angle, the ideal crop, the artistic photo filter, the compelling caption, and just the right hashtag. I probably put more thought into my Instagram account than I do into what I’m making for dinner.
4. It’s a job with no pressure.
Social media managers are tasked with building out the personality and reach of the brand, yet some professionals still don’t value the role. It’s our responsibility to stay up to date on social topics, trends, changes, and tools. Our strategies and platforms are always changing, being expanded, and growing in influence. We’re putting out fires where there’s a fire and even shaping perceptions about brands that need to repair their online reputation.
5. Our mistakes are the biggest mistakes.
Forget the pen; the send button is mightier than the sword. Every email you send goes right to the recipient. Every tweet I send goes to tens of thousands of people. It’s critiqued, talked about, torn apart, praised, and/or shared.
For most of you, your completed tasks go straight to your boss—whereas mine go to several different clients across hundreds of networks. Just about every day you hear about a social media manager who’s been fired for posting the wrong post or issuing the wrong tweet.
Don’t think for a second that this article is all about a “woe is me” attitude when it comes to my job. I do this because I love it. I love the pressure, I love the pace, and I love the reward of engaging people online.
So, to my fellow social media mavens, twitterholics, and facestalkers: I salute you.
Michelle Kraker is the vice president of social media for Inbound Marketing Agents. A version of this article first appeared on Business2Community.