A day in the life of a social media manager

It takes a lot longer than half an hour to effectively manage a brand’s social media accounts.

There’s an article and infographic that have been going around for the past year or so about how to manage your social media in 34 minutes or less.

I must be doing something wrong – or something right – because I’m one of thousands of people who have made social media management their career.

Here’s a look at how a social media manager spends her day and why I agree that 34 minutes a day isn’t enough for your social media.

6:00 a.m.: Wake up

The gentle alarm from the Sleep Cycle app wakes me. I tap it and review the statistics. Sleep quality was 92%. That’s pretty good. Since I’ve already got my iPhone in my hand, against my better judgement, I check Facebook. Last night’s post has generated about 200 comments. I’ll have to take a minute to respond to that later.

Oh, wait, what did that guy say? This can’t wait. I must reply.

7:00 a.m.: Get ready for work

That minute turned into an hour, and now I don’t have time to exercise. I hop in the shower and have breakfast, which means coffee while reviewing Twitter and some news. My significant other says something I don’t quite catch.

8:00 a.m.: Commute to work

I squeeze onto the train. I check the news on my iPhone. Oh no, there’s been a national tragedy. I review my content scheduled on Hootsuite and postpone everything for the day. I can’t actually reschedule on my phone (waiting for that functionality, Hootsuite), so I copy the contents onto Notes and delete them. I tweet in support of those who have been affected by the tragedy.

9:00 a.m.: Arrive at the office

I grab a flat white from the café on my way. I catch up with my colleagues and review the day ahead. I check my email and company intranet. HR wants to meet about refining the company’s social media policy for employees, and I’ve got a team meeting at 2 p.m.

I finally get to work. I manage the company’s accounts (and many of our client’s accounts) on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Between interruptions, I spend the morning reviewing all of them and responding: thanking people, generally engaging with them, guiding them towards the resources they need or to customer support, correcting misinformation, liking and sharing, re-tweeting and re-pinning. I think of something brilliant to say on some LinkedIn discussions. I visit other accounts and say hello and share their content.

In light of the previously mentioned tragedy, our regular content is on hold until tomorrow. Instead, I use Photoshop or Canva to create a few supportive visual messages to share on social media.

12:00 p.m.: Lunch

It’s packed in this café supposedly nobody knows about. I finally get a sandwich and a coffee and find a spot to sit. My sandwich is really good, so I take a picture of it and post on my Instagram. I review some groups for community and social media managers to see what everyone’s talking about today. I check my personal email and am reminded of a social media meetup tonight. I think I’ll pass on it this month.

1:00 p.m.: Back to work

I check in with HR about the company’s social media policy. Someone is concerned about a selfie that an employee drunkenly posted on Facebook while wearing a company t-shirt. Sigh.

Back at my desk, it’s time to review the blog entries that will be published over the next few days. I prepare the images that will go with them on social media. I do some pinning on Pinterest.

1:45 p.m.: Marketing meeting

On my way to the meeting, I walk through the building taking iPhone snapshots of employees and anything else that looks fun or interesting for the company’s Instagram account.

At the meeting, we discuss upcoming campaigns and how to amplify them on social media. “No, we can’t do that; it breaches the platform terms of use.” “No, we can’t do that; the legal team won’t go for it.” “No, we can’t do that; it’s a terrible idea.” “#MyNYPD anyone?”

Finally, we come up with an idea for a contest we’ll run on Facebook. The idea is good, but needs refining, and we’ll do that over the next couple of weeks.

3:00 p.m.: Back at my desk

I’m ready to get back to work and, hey, it’s someone’s birthday!

3:15 p.m.: Back at my desk

I check email again. I check social media accounts again. I review brand mentions.

The rest of the afternoon is spent on different tasks, depending on the day. I might write a blog entry or scour the Web for content. I may have to put together a report. I may have to work on a presentation. I might spend the rest of the afternoon collecting, reviewing, and organizing data.

That post didn’t do well. This post did great; more like that. This tweet gained us a lot of new followers. There’s a spike in website traffic coming from Pinterest. A bunch of naked spam followers on Instagram. Reach is down; it’s pointless anyway.

Before calling it a day, I review the scheduled content for tomorrow. Of course, the national tragedy means moving this all up and scheduling today’s content tomorrow.

5:30 p.m.: Commute home

I listen to a couple of industry-related podcasts on the way home.

6:30pm: Arrive home

I arrive to find that my significant other is already cooking. Lucky me.

I say hello and plop down in front of my TV with my laptop. I check my email and all the social media accounts. I know I don’t have to; I’m off the clock and there is after-hours support. Soon, I’ll have dinner, watch a movie with my partner, and head to bed. And I might check it all one last time.

A day is not everything

A day in the life doesn’t capture what it means to be a social media manager. There are countless tasks that are not mentioned above such as performing social media audits, identifying audiences, developing strategies, and tracking conversions.

Don’t be misguided by so-called social media gurus selling the idea that social media management is easy or can be done quickly. Social media is about cultivating relationships with your audience, and that takes time and effort. ​

Cosette Paneque is team lead and consultant at Quiip, an Australian company that provides online community management.

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