Social media management is the professional version of social media marketing. This means that as a social manager, you are tweeting, blogging, and posting on behalf of someone other than yourself. This could be in an agency or consultancy setting, or for a corporation or brand.
Sending tweets and creating content on behalf of someone other than yourself can bring its challenges, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds. There are a few simple rules that, when followed, can help take any social manager from good enough to great.
Rule #1 – Be Helpful
The funny thing about social management is that the subject matter doesn’t always come naturally to us. As a consultant or manager, you may not be the subject matter expert, so understanding how you can represent the real expert is the challenge. To do that, start with a few key ideas.
- Put the audience first. Always be asking the question “what’s in it for the audience?” Evaluate your content against this idea.
- Fill the gaps. Get good at reaching out to the experts around you for knowledge and advice. How can you get them on your side?
- Ask the right questions. You need to learn about broad, valuable ideas rather than specific details. Once you understand the theory, the details will fall into place.
As the social manager, your job isn’t to put on a brand-only show. You need to talk about something besides the latest company offering. You need to find ways to create value for your audience. Look to existing information within the company that you are representing. What can be the source of that value?
I once worked with a company that had been doing advice columns in the local paper for years. They had a wealth of value-based content to share. As the social manager, my job became one of sifting through that content and finding those hidden gems that would inspire trust in their audience.
Rule #2 – Maintain A Consistent Presence
When you are being paid to manage a social channel, consistency needs to be your top priority. In fact, consistency is really what matters most when it comes to creating a great social brand. The reward that comes with consistency is audience trust. If you don’t show up consistently, your audience will become less likely to follow what you do, or trust your advice.
So, how can social managers achieve consistency? Good tools can help a lot.
- Rely on scheduling. You will need to get good at scheduling future posts using a free social media tool. Try to get ahead of the fastball and schedule your posts a few days in advanced.
- Calculated but authentic. You don’t want it to feel like a mathematic formula. You will need to maintain a consistent blend of content. Following a content blueprint should help.
Rule #3 - Always Reply
When you send a tweet to a brand, three days is too long to wait for a reply. You have to be ready to respond. There are social media management tools that can help you do this, but it will ultimately be up to you to get it done. Even if the question or comment is highly casual in nature, it is important to respond so that your audience knows that you are listing. If they get the feeling that they are talking to thin air, they are less likley to share something with you again.
- Be hard to forget. It is true almost 100 percent of the time – customers will notice if you send them a direct message.
- Set expectations. Many social managers don’t have the responsibility of being available 24/7. This can work, but you need to be up-front about it so your audience knows what to expect.
Keep in mind, your replies don’t always need to be profound. A simple thank you will do under the right circumstances.
Rule #4 – Be Ready For The Negative
It’s reality: negative feedback will happen. We all know that social media has changed how we shop and communicate. It is no wonder that it has also changed how we complain. You will need to be ready for this as a social manger.
- Take negative feedback on the chin. Don’t take things personally, and don’t let them get to you. They aren’t mad at you, and it isn’t necessarily your job to fix the problem. It is, however, your job to keep the raging fires at bay.
- Do your best to represent the brand. It is vital that you respond to negative feedback for many reasons. The best policy for doing so is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and do what you would want someone to do.
- Stay positive. You have been warned – there are trolls online. Don’t go there. Stay positive and focused on the bigger goals. Whatever you do, don’t let them suck you in.
Rule #5 – Be Wary Of The Gimmicks
Social media success can’t be built in a day, yet we all seem to try. Too many marketers believe that one great tweet or campaign can seal the deal forever. Don’t be fooled! Over-the-top contests and “follow me” gimmicks often lead to disaster. High hopes for follower counts and Klout scores can often leave us disappointed Great social mangers learn to avoid the hype and focus on core strategies.
- Don’t obsess over follower count. The temptation to count followers is real, especially when you are looking to provide proof of value to a boss or client. Don’t fall into the trap. Focus on engagement and trust-building, and then learn to measure it properly. It is your job to educate whoever it is that you answer to regarding the value of what you’re doing.
- Contests can be trouble. There is a lot of hype surrounding contests, but there are also a lot of rules. Many contests also fail because they are simply premature. Proceed cautiously and carefully with contents, and wait until your audience is actually ready.
It takes guts, brains, and good tools to become a social media manager. The biggest challenge to the job is biting off more that we can chew. Providing real value and delivering it consistently is how you win with social media. Learn to focus on the fundamentals. Put your audience first, build trust, and don’t let your tools get in the way of extreme social productivity.