Working in Social Media: Expectation vs. Reality
There are a lot of misconceptions about working in social media. Sure, it’s fun and you do spend a lot of your time on Instagram and Facebook (other social media platforms are available), but there is so much more to it than just that.
Although it’s not what I do now, I actually started out working in social media. At first I was like “This is so cool, I’m going to get paid for being on social media all day!”. I soon realised this wasn’t the case, and it actually involved a lot more brain power and strategic thinking than I first anticipated.
So if you're considering taking your first step in working in social media, here's a few pointers on what you should actually expect in your new role.
1. Liking, loving and sharing
This is an obvious one. When working in social media, you can guarantee you'll spend a hefty amount of time interacting with other people online by liking and sharing their posts. Now, don’t get me wrong, you will be doing a lot of this kind of stuff, but not in the way you think. It’s a lot more tactical than you’d expect! When working in social media you need to be particular about who you engage with: you need to interact with people who are relevant to your business and will help amplify your brand awareness.
Monitoring streams are good for this - all decent social media tools, such as Buffer and Hootsuite, have a social listening feature which allows you to monitor specific accounts and reach the right people at the right time with content which is helpful. Here's an example of Hilton hotels doing just that...
Showing some love to other social media accounts is important but you also need to make sure you're giving your business' social media feeds a lot of love too. You can do this by making sure you’re putting relevant and useful content out there which keeps your followers engaged. But remember, different rules apply to different platforms - you wouldn't post the same content on your Facebook as you would on your Twitter because the audiences will be totally different - so don’t do the same thing across all channels!
2. A tweet a day keeps the trolls away
You probably imagine yourself posting tons of content day in, day out but don't just post content for the sake of it. A publishing schedule will need to be created for the main bulk of your posts, and the type of posts will need to align with what you're trying to achieve as part of your social media strategy (something I come on to later in this blog post).
Again, most social media management tools will have a platform scheduling feature that allows you to schedule posts either in bulk or individually (anytime, anywhere). However, ‘anytime’ isn’t how you do scheduling - it’s all about ‘optimal timing’. There are best and worst times to post, depending on when most of your audience is active. Most social media management tools will be able to give you analytics insights which will tell you this information. Use this data wisely and this will increase your reach and brand awareness, probably getting you in-front of new potential customers too. Happy days!
3. It’s for work, I swear!
Falling down the rabbit hole of watching videos, memes and GIFs is a dangerous thing! But... We all do it. So, you might think that it comes with the territory when you bag a job in social media, but actually this isn't true. Sorry.
Yes you will be required to watch the odd video, or find an appropriate meme or GIF for a tweet, but if you think the majority of your days will be consumed by watching cats flipping out over cucumbers or a lady losing her sh*t over a chewbacca mask, sadly you’re wrong!
1. Strategy Planning
Behind every great social media campaign is a great digital marketing strategy. Before you can get started with anything on social media, you need to create a solid digital marketing strategy. It’s important you answer the vital questions from the beginning, such as: why are we doing social media? who do we want to target? what do we want to achieve? A strategy will help you do this.
What does a digital marketing strategy look like? Well, you can read our guide on how to create a digital marketing strategy right here but if you want the headlines, you need to think about the following:
- SMART goals - In case you don't know, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Setting SMART Goals will help you achieve actual results, rather than woolly ideas that can never be met.
- Personas - Have you created buyer personas yet? If not, you really should because knowing who your audience is will help you to create a much more successful strategy: your content will be way more useful and will convert more prospects into leads if you know who your audience are and what they'll engage with.
- - Competitor research - Understanding what your competitors are doing (or not doing!) is a worthwhile thing for you to research. You don't want to be left behind by your competitors do you? Benchmarking yourself against the competition will help you identify what you can do better and give you inspiration going forward.
- - Social audit - Performing an audit of your own social media accounts will help you identify what's working and what's not and will help you understand what you should be spending time on. If no-one's interacting with those webinars which your team spent 16 hours making, is it worth the effort?
- - Update existing profiles - This should always be kept on top of, but right before you create your new digital marketing strategy is as good a time as any. If your social media is gonna be on fire, then your profiles should be too!
2. Socialising on the social
I previously talked about social monitoring and how it was a great way to stalk the right people. Elaborating on this slightly, you need to have a skill for reactive social media-ing (if that’s such a thing). You need to be part of the conversations that are happening now. For example, when the weather was a particular talking point in Bristol and we were chatting internally about it, we decided to share that on Twitter. It doesn't promote any of our services but it's relatable and allowed us to start having conversations with people. If you would like more information about what content you should be sharing, check out Gertie's Rule of Thirds.
Reactive responses aside, the everyday chit-chat is also important. You need to think about your brand's tone of voice, the kind of people you want to be talking to and whether they will care about what you have to say. Is what you’re putting out there relevant and enticing? Your social media feed needs to be interesting and offer variety to turn strangers into shiny new followers. So in actual fact, doing social media well requires quite a lot of careful thinking and planning!
3. Analysing data
And finally, data! Every platform has an analytics feature, and it’s here where you can find out a lot about your audience and how your own performance is doing. Dissecting this information into a spreadsheet - here's one we made earlier - will help you see patterns and anomalies and ultimately help you figure out what's working and what's not for your brand.
Analysing your data should be a monthly thing. Why not check out a tool like Rival IQ which can help you with your social analytics and make your digital marketing smarter? Google Analytics is also a hub of knowledge for analysing your social channels.
So to sum it up, working in social media isn’t just an excuse to ‘get paid to do nothing’ - it actually takes a lot of hard work! Sure, there are times when you might find yourself watching GIFs all day, but really you need to have a strategic mindset, be an excellent planner and communicator and know how to interpret data.