I met a man last night who, upon telling him that I’m a Social Media Manager, replied by saying, “So you’re a professional tweeter. Aren’t all girls?” Not only was his comment sexist and untrue (so don’t even get me started on that), but if I were a goddamn professional tweeter, I would have said “I’m a professional tweeter.” Oh, and by the way, that’s not a thing. Social Media Managers are incredibly underestimated and misunderstood in this world, and I’m here to clear things up and educate the uneducated (and sometimes ignorant) about what it is we do.
I will admit that, yes, a part of my job as a Social Media Manager (or Social Media Producer, if you will) is managing our brand’s Twitter account. And yes, this requires me to regularly send tweets to our some 34,000 fans in addition to hosting live Twitter chats, Twitter takeovers, etc. So, in a way, I would say that I am, in ways, a professional tweeter. But does my tweeting define my job as a Social Media Manager? Hell no. I would never call a carpenter a “Professional Door Maker,” because there’s a heck of a lot more to their role than what most may know it to be. Same goes for us.
There’s a common misconception that Social Media Managers spend all day posting to Facebook and Twitter, and that’s it. But there’s much more to the social world than Facebook and Twitter. Most Social Media Managers are responsible for managing multiple platforms at once— Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Vine, Reddit, Stumblupon, Pinterest and Google+ to name a few. Within each platform, managers must deliver their site, company or brand’s content in a way that entices users to click on and engage with that content, which often means customizing specific messages to appeal to those audiences. In order to cater to the right demographics, many social media managers must be crafty with their words, delivering those messages in a unique, fun way that requires wit, creativity and skill. Once delivered, Social Managers must then analyze trends to determine which messages resonated with the audience and how to improve on those that didn’t.
On top of scheduling, posting, monitoring and reporting on those platforms simultaneously, and often in advance, social media managers are oftentimes tasked with creating social media strategies and campaigns to help achieve a certain goal: increasing site traffic, brand recognition, engagement, etc. These campaigns are tailored specifically for the client or brand, and usually produce measurable results that SMMs must then analyze. Some clients and companies may even hire social media managers to create and build them a social presence from scratch.
Social Media Managers are also required to interact with other social media accounts, monitor industry trends, increase search by using SEO best practices, report on analytics, manage social partnerships, develop franchises and campaigns with outside parties, host giveaways and contests and so much more. In today’s society, it’s imperative for brands and companies to have a strong social presence to easily and quickly deliver important and breaking messages to an active, attentive audience. In 140 characters and 2 seconds, millions of people can be reached, which makes it even more important for companies to leave their social accounts in the hands of people they trust. (Need I remind you about the time US Airways responded to a complaining customer with a tweet that showed a woman shoving a model airplane into her vagina? Not okay.) In a nutshell, digital media— which includes social media— has already taken over as the number one source of news. Every day, fewer people are reaching for the morning paper, and more people are logging onto Twitter to see what’s trending. Social Media isn’t a job; it’s an industry.
A few months ago, I was watching Fox 5 News (after “The Mindy Project,” natch), when an anchor named Steve Lacy reported that a local college is now offering a graduate degree in Social Media. He then laughed and said: “Why would anyone pay for a degree when a 14-year-old can do it?” Well, for starters, children have very little sense of what is appropriate for a public forum, Steve. They also have no filters. They also have no experience in journalism or public relations or communications, and will likely spell something wrong, misunderstand something and/or offend someone. They also have no professional experience managing accounts with thousands, and sometimes millions of fans and followers (I’ve had both at various companies).
So, I tweeted (from my rarely-used personal account) about the bad taste left in my mouth from Steve’s ill-informed generalizations about social media, firing back at what he does to give him a dose of his own medicine. This is what he said:
@KLOldenburg shouldnt you have more twitter followers?
— Steve Lacy (@StevenLacy) September 18, 2013
And that kind of rude response (from a public figure, no less) is why HE is no better than those 14-year-olds he speaks of, and why he should probably have a social media manager of his own.
I replied to Oh Wise One, informing him that I’m too busy focusing my time on managing accounts professionally that I don’t use my personal account often. I also told him that, despite popular belief, there’s much more to Social Media Management than tweeting. But this I pledge: when social media makes his job obsolete, I’ll be sure to have his 14-year-old replacement give him a Twitter shoutout.