7 Strategies To Become A Successful Social Media Manager
The business world has gone digital and social. Like most of us, you probably go online and check out a product, service, or company before you spend your hard earned money. And you’ve most likely noticed that a company blog with amusing and informative articles wins minds and a Facebook page filled with effusive testimonials and honest conversations wins hearts. On the flip side, as a business owner, despite knowing that your social media presence is crucial, you may not know how to maximize your efforts online. After all, being a rockstar social media manager is not necessarily in your job description. But that’s ok! It’s pretty easy to learn the knowledge and skills needed to manage your business’ social media. In this article, I will share my 7 strategies on how to become a successful social media manager.
1. Know The Scope Of The Job
What does a social media manager actually do? This relatively new profession can seem pretty straightforward or enigmatically complex, depending on your background. I’m here to tell you – it’s both. The list of responsibilities and skills that are expected of a social media manager is longer than you might expect and not without their challenges, but everything on the list is relatively straightforward. For example, responsibilities range from account set up and daily management to strategic planning. Skills include basic html and SEO know-how, but also customer service and some serious writing chops.
Of course, each business has its own needs and yours will be no different. I recommend that you start searching for job descriptions of social media managers at companies similar to yours. Ask around in your network. So before you jump in with both feet, do some leg work and learn what social media managers actually do. Learning the day-to-day tasks and long-term projects that they work on is invaluable information for you to know what is feasible for you and your staff to do in addition to your other responsibilities. Also, not knowing the scope of the job is like walking down the street blind. You should at least get a lay of the land before you embark, right?
2. Research And Check Out The Competition
Now that you know what a social media manager does on paper, it’s time to take a deep dive into social media best practices. Read guides, follow industry news, and research extensively. One of my favorite ways to research in a more targeted way is to go take a look at what social media managers are producing for businesses similar to yours. What platforms are they using? What do they post and how often? Do they have a blog and who’s writing the articles? You probably already do a competitive analysis of their products and services, so why not their social media marketing?
Looking at a successfully social company can be a great barometer of what your target audience responds to and what they ignore. It can even open your eyes to channels or methods you would never have thought of on your own. Keep tabs on the discussions that are trending, the types of posts they create, and even their wording or language. Take notes and look back into their archives to see how their strategy and content has changed. Then keep going back and see how they adapt to new features or platform changes. Being aware of your competition’s social media is great, but like copying your friend’s homework -- besides the fact that it’s cheating -- the answers aren’t always right. As you learn more about social media best practices, you can start to recognize the mistakes that your competition might make and learn from them.
3. Audit And Create Mission Statement
After your outward search, it is time to get personal. Or at least take a good long look at what you are currently doing for your business. If you’re just getting starting, this may not apply to you but it’s good to learn the basics so that you can do periodic check-ups in the future. This part is called “The Audit.” I know it sounds unpleasant but just think of it as a self-evaluation.
First start a spreadsheet (there are many templates to be found on the web) and list all the social networks you have. Also do a search to see if there are any social media profiles set up for your business that you don’t own – yes, imposters! This is rare, but it does happen sometimes and you’d need to address it quickly. Then jot down your current metrics, such as how many followers you currently have on each channel, the number of posts, and how many likes or shares. Next, check and make sure all the pictures, logos, and messaging are on-brand and consistent across channels.
Finally, write down a simple “mission statement” or purpose for each channel. An example could be: Facebook – To share company culture and engage with fans. And your Snapchat mission statement might be – To feature the fun side of the company and engage with younger customers. This prompts you to think about the “why” before you answer the “what” or “how.” Ultimately “The Audit” is meant to keep you honest with the current state of affairs and set up realistic goals for the future…which brings us to our next strategy.
4. Define A Strategic Content Plan
So you’ve looked at your competition and have tons of ideas and after “The Audit,” you have a sense of what is working for you and what isn’t. Now we can make a game plan. First, outline your goals and then list the specific action items for each channel.
Your goals should be both measurable and attainable. A vague and pie-in-the-sky goal is confusing at best and can be outright de-motivating. Good goals to write down might be “increase Facebook fans by 10 each week” or “respond to all questions or comments on Twitter within 24 hours.” After you have a clear picture of where you want to be, focus on what you’ll do to get there. This could include making Facebook Ads and a new channel launch, but a large majority of the plan should address your content creation.
A content creation plan will answer questions such as “what will I post” and “how often.” It should also specify target audiences and who will create each post. For keeping track of the specific actions you will take, I recommend creating an editorial calendar. You can find a few good templates online, but a basic calendar will list type of post, topic/title, publish date, and focus keywords – for each channel. Make sure to mix it up and inject some variety into your content. For a big picture look, you can create an annual calendar that will help you generate posts around events and holidays pertinent to your business. For example, you can post that picture of the office dog in a pumpkin costume for Halloween. Also, learn all the “national days” relevant for you. You can bet a hamburger joint takes full advantage of National Hamburger Day (May 28th in case you were curious).
In the end, the purpose of the plan and editorial calendar is to help you get organized, stay on brand, and reach your goals. Also, hopefully, it will help you keep focused and effectively manage your time.
5. Implement And Analyze
I know, up to this point we really haven’t done anything. But, now is the time to dig in and get your hands dirty. Now that you have a plan, you can start creating the content you mapped out and look ahead in your editorial calendar.
As you start to roll out your new shiny social media plan, you should also be simultaneously keeping tabs on each action’s effectiveness. Closely evaluate what you’re doing. This can be as simple as tracking the number of likes or comments a post may be getting. But if you want to be strategic about what metrics you’re tracking, go back to your goals. For example, if one of your goals was to increase your number of fans, keep track of this number. Other engagement KPI’s (key performance indicators) to track include comments, likes, and shares. To really be able to collect all available data, you could also consider using a social media analytics tool. There are so many on the market right now, so be sure to look at what each tool offers and how much it would cost. Most of these tools collect the number of users, clicks on links, the location of visitors, etc.
No matter what method you use to track the data on your channels, the whole purpose of collecting these metrics is to improve your social media presence. As you learn more about your social media performance, readjust and modify your plan. This will take some time, but keep with it and you’ll see some real data-driven results.
6. Stay Up To Date
There’s nothing like the constantly changing social media ecosystem to make you quickly feel outdated and old. It seems like Instagram is constantly adding new features and Facebook is always modifying algorithms. But staying on top of the new trends and features keeps your business relevant and keeps your audience engaged. The world is changing and so should your business’ marketing strategy. In the social media realm, it is fundamental that you continue to educate yourself on new features and current best practices.
To keep current, subscribe to social media marketing blogs or newsletters and follow the social media accounts of industry leaders. Try out a news aggregator like Feedly to keep your blog subscriptions organized. Other tips include checking your social media feeds to see what is trending or going viral. Set up a Google alert on social media topics relevant to you and get notified when anything happens. Similarly, you can follow specific hashtags within the industry to stay in the loop and know immediately when a change has taken place. Or take it offline and attend a conference where you can hear from experts and other social media managers.
Yes, keeping current, like almost every other aspect of social media management, will take time on a regular basis. But, staying up-to-date is just as important as the posts you create. If all your fans are moving from Instagram to Snapchat, you should be quick to notice and adapt.
7. Know Your Limitations
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, admit your limits. Social media is a bottomless pit and can eat away at your precious time. The endless monitoring and commenting can threaten to take over your day if you don’t set yourself limits on how much you and your staff can accomplish. And when these limits seem to compromise the potential of your business, it might be time to look for outside help.
The decision to outsource social media management isn’t easy, but sometimes it’s the most practical. Luckily, there are a growing number of social media marketing companies and freelancers who can help you with every aspect of your social media plan and implementation. An added benefit is that they are professionals with years of hard-won experience and can take your business’ social media to new heights. Not ready to fork over the tens of thousands of dollars for a full-service firm? No problem. You can hire freelancers to contribute articles or you can choose specific social media management services that fill in the gaps. Regardless, there is no shame in getting expert advice and assistance from a social media management company.
These seven strategies for how to become a social media manager can be followed as steps or absorbed like words from a wise sage. Either way, you are one step closer to successfully leveraging social media for your business. It is a long and time-consuming process, but totally worth it. Building a brand online and engaging an ever expanding audience through social media networks has changed the way business marketing works. But now you know the game and how to play.