Like all good humanities-based careers, Social Media Managers often feel the need to justify their worth to the world at large. While the role of social media manager is but one small hat I wear (or more specifically, third monitor) in the small business I work for, I understand the frustrations those more invested in the job constantly endure. So I’ll add my two-cents for the record.
The social media manager role appears obvious at first glance. With social media outlets multiplying like bunny rabbits, companies face an increasing need to designate a specialist to manage everything from Facebook to Xing. Once again, like all good humanities-based careers, people assume that anyone can handle this job. All you need is a little experience with Facebook and Twitter right?
Oh so incredibly wrong, and here’s an easy explanation why. Look at your Facebook news feed and you’ll see two general types of people.
1) People who post silly, easily forgettable things on Facebook every five seconds. You might chuckle or agree with their post/picture/video, maybe even give a “pity-like” and then move on. These people often post multiple times a day, using their Facebook as a Livejournal to tell their life story to the world. “Find out what I’m up to, every hour on the hour.”
2) People who post well thought-out, possibly infrequent but definitely engaging posts. An interesting article that promotes discussion. Perhaps a cool video solving a common problem in a creative way. Posts people come back to, receive dozens of likes, make you want to actually visit that person’s unique profile to show the post to someone else. These posts are not about what you are eating for lunch or questioning your evening plans.
Some people naturally fall in the middle ground or maybe into both groups, but you can probably divide a significant portion of your friends in Group 1 or Group 2. Now if you were a CEO and wanted someone to manage your online presence, which group would you pull talent from? Group 2 of course. Companies need to engage their customers on a professional, intelligent level. Not a level of “The Metro is 20 minutes late OMGFML.”
Social Media Managers are not allowed to use their tools of Facebook and Twitter for their own personal amusement, much like the tools given to Biochemists or Engineers. They do not have time for such trivial games because they, like other hard-working individuals, are too busy using their tools to do their job.
Given the nature of social media, specifically the instant transfer of communication, that job becomes a specific form of public relations on steroids. Someone comments on your Facebook page? Better reply back immediately. Something exciting happened that you need to report? Better tell the world immediately. Social Media Managers do not have time to complain about their lives on Facebook; they are too busy acting as the voice of their employer.
Not everyone writing blog posts deserves an English degree. Likewise, not everyone operating social media deserves a Communication degree. Of course, Linux, Perl, and MySQL are just as open source as social media and blogs, but that’s a topic for another day.