On Social Media Marketing

“So you’re sure that you’re sure that I’ll *never* have to do anything in Facebook,” I said, looking across the car at my new boss. “Like not a single Facebook post, not a tweet, nothing right?”

When it was confirmed that I’d never have to deal with social media content or marketing, I heaved a sigh that had been years in the making. I’d accidentally fallen into a career in social media marketing in graduate school when I managed and rejuvenated all of their social media accounts. I ended up having a knack for it, so I worked for two colleges, an advertising agency and freelance work from then on.

The thought of creating even a single Facebook post started to kill my soul just a little. I finally confronted my fears from nearly a year before– I was completely burnt out on social media marketing. I’d made french fries go viral, hung out with Bill Clinton and the Secret Service, and once dressed up like a lemon. (Yes, a Fruit of the Loom-style lemon.) I bawled in the back of an event while shielding my face with an iPad, heartbroken but determined to finish my coverage that evening. I’ve brushed up on my German in Duolingo to converse with an international reporter.

I’d seen it all in five years’ time, and I knew it was time to give it up, at least for a while. But before I ride off into the #blessed sunset (with a good Instagram filter, naturally), I wanted to share what I’d taken away from the field:

Ensuring Your Success:

The best way to be a successful social media manager is to develop a return on investment (ROI). When you start looking at social media through a business lens, it completely changes how and why you work. Snapchat seems like a great idea until you realize it’s hard to measure, quantify and report your results.

Trends Mean Nothing:

What’s the most important aspect of social media marketing? Hint: it’s not the perfect Instagram filter, the newest plaid scarf from Pinterest, or the #onfleek tweet with 2,000 retweets. The answer? Meeting key performance indicators or KPIs. Here’s a great primer on the subject.

Trends are only the sprinkles on the social media cupcake. You can write the wittiest tweet ever, have the best photo ever, but it won’t matter unless you’re driving conversions.

Too Many Irons in The Fire:

A strong skillset sets apart the average social media manager from a good one. That skillset requires a decent grasp of writing, technical skills, budget management, data science and technologies.

This leads to a new problem. Instead of managing the social media workflow from beginning to end, the social media manager ends up creating all of it. This means instead of working towards the aforementioned metrics, they’re worrying about things that aren’t their job. Sure, they need to have a heavy hand in the development of content. A social media manager’s #1 job is to ensure the success of the accounts. They’re not graphic designers, photographers, or accountants.

Several other social media managers I personally know have left the field. Many of them moved into account management or more managerial roles. I took a side step from social media management to advertising technology, and I recently started  as a campaign/project manager.

The Big Picture:

It’s clear to most people in advertising and marketing that the main goal is to turn a profit for clients. Social media is viewed as novelty or conversation instead of a powerful business tool.  Refining the role of the social media manager is the best way to streamline strategy and work smarter.