What does a Social Media Manager do?

This post was originally published in June 2014

Almost every business and organisation is using Social Media in some shape or form in 2014. Many are allocating more budget to digital media, investing in full time staff to create content, manage communities and be an internal champion. 

Often managers are unsure what this new role should entail, what to look for in a job applicant and how to measure their performance. Many employees will wonder what value this new role offers the business so it's important to have a clear mandate and transparent understanding of who, what, how and why.

This is by no means conclusive but I hope you find some/all of this useful. If you do please share it with your networks.

Before we start: This resources is aimed at SMB's and organisations with 1-2 dedicated social media staff. Larger teams will have a wider scope, different expectations and be structured differently.

This is a follow-up post to "A Social Media Manager is not a desk job" which struck a cord and ignited conversations for a more robust guide to the social media manager role.


What does a social media manager do?

A social media manager is responsible for facilitating content creation, messaging, distribution and community engagement across all official social media channels.

As the number of popular social media channels increases so does the demands on the social media manager and the company to keep up.

To be a good social media manager you need;

  • Native understanding of each social media network
  • Ability to connect corporate objectives to content, messaging and campaigns
  • Knowledge of web and mobile user experience, apps and trends
  • Ability to write concisely 
  • Ability to engage, sympathise and effectively communicate with a diverse range of people and opinions
  • Handle complaints and provide customer service
  • A solid understanding of the business and products or services the company offers 
  • To know intuitively how your audience experience the brand, communicate online and how to leverage those opportunities
  • To be a customer advocate

Key objectives of a social media manager are:

  • Increase participation in company stories, discussions, campaigns an events
  • Increase awareness of company products or services
  • Increase the value the company provides customers and followers alike
  • Understand the value these interactions have on the business and report back to management on key performance metrics
  • Help others in your organisation to learn, understand and use social media channels more/effectively

Types of content/messages a social media manager will be publishing:

  • Utility: Tools, services, processes customers can use to make their lives easier enable them to be more involved in the brand. IE; Customer Support, Knowledge Base, Self Help videos, Mobile Apps.
  • Announcements: Key dates, events, new hires, employment opportunities
  • Company Stories: Content about us. Customer Insights, research, video interviews, highlighting the people and expertise in the company
  • Customer Stories: Sharing customer experiences, benefits, case studies, love tweets and customer service questions.
  • Campaigns: Awareness and Acquisition promotions to increase customers, sales and fan base on social channels
  • Banter: Daily dialog with customers and fans, connecting and engaging with people on likeminded topics, conversations or shared experiences.

As I highlighted in my previous article "A Social Media Manager is not a desk job", it's important for the social media manager to be visible, active and not tied to their chair 8 hours a day. 

A social media managers job is dynamic, time consuming, fluid. Often there are demands from internal stakeholders to post their content, which may not fit with the strategy.

It's important the social media manager is not always fighting fires but connecting stories and people in positive ways.

Often it's difficult to maintain an organised schedule and be systematic when everything is operating in real-time. Pressure to respond or deal with customer/fan messages as quickly as possible as well as internal pressure to post content can distract social media managers from producing new content and filling the editorial calendar with the right stuff.

Organising your day starts with understanding when your social media audience is most active online. What times during the day are they listening, sharing or interacting in daily dialog and banter?

For instance New Zealanders are most active on Twitter between 7pm and 11pm. 

Structure your day:

Morning:

  • Check social media channels for mentions, questions, comments and other user-generated-content that may need to be responded to, shared or moderated. 
  • Schedule hero posts, utility messages and other broadcast messages designed to inform or ignite conversations
  • Research: Competitors, local brands active on social and anything thats trending, popular or happening that's relevant to your business and social audience
  • Check paid media campaigns and set up any changes, new adverts, new campaigns

Afternoon

  • Internal meetings:
    • Transfer your knowledge back to communications, marketing, finance, sales and customer services teams. 
    • Get updated on up-coming campaigns, company announcements, events and any other opportunities that need to be included in the editorial calendar
  • Meet agency partners, content producers, plan and prepare for your next marketing campaigns and activations
  • Visit stores, suppliers, the warehouse team. get out of the office and go visit people
  • Go to networking events, events the company supports or sponsors
  • Create opportunities for your fans/customers to meet, have fun and create shared experiences that are not focused on sales.
  • Don't forget to check mentions and questions and respond to people engaging with the brand and interacting with others on relevant topics.

Evening:

  • Monitor mentions, questions and user-generated-content
  • Engage in conversations and banter with your social audience.
  • Participate in trending conversations/activities. Be a part of the conversations that are relevant to your audience.

Tools of the Trade:

Tools and applications for social media managers are important to the whole organisation as they will make it easier to:

  • Schedule content
  • Submit content ideas
  • Organise the Editorial Calendar and approve posts
  • Distribute customer service questions to the right people to answer
  • Report on KPI's
  • Demonstrate the value and importance of proactive social media engagement
  • Ensure customer service questions are responded to within desired timeframes

The tools you select will reflect: 

  • The investment in and commitment to growing social media channels
  • The size of the social audience
  • The social channels you use
  • The volume of brand mentions and user-generated-content
  • The number of people in the company that need visibility or contribute to monitoring and engaging on social channels.

Tools a Social Medias Manager may want to consider:

  • Zendesk - Customer Engagement Platform, collecting messages from email, voice, social into one collaborative inbox
  • Hootsuite - Social media dashboard, team management, reporting and search/monitoring
  • Sproutsocial - Manage multiple brands, pages, searches. Assign tasks to team members, reporting, competitor research and post analytics
  • Radian 6 - Enterprise social media management application for campaigns, listening, research and post analytics

Performance Management 

Social media managers should;

  • Be hired on full time contracts, not on an hourly rate.
  • Help internal stakeholders understand channels, user experience and create opportunities for them to participate in official social media channels
  • Not be secretive or seek to prevent others in the organisation learning, understanding or contributing to the official social media channels
  • Be open and transparent about performance, activity and campaign results  
  • Always be on top of responding to mentions and customer questions
  • Maintain up to date knowledge of platform updates and any changes to user experience or channel functionality and best practice
  • Be a champion for greater organisational commitment and use of social channels
  • Live and breath social media and be committed to exceeding customer expectations, upholding brand values and best practice activity.

Journalist, Marketer, Customer Service Rep, Public Relations, Technologist, Content Producer, Brand Manager. A Social media manager is all of these things. 


This is by no means conclusive. Every organisation and every social media manager will have different challenges and agenda. 

My goal for this article was to write up a high level overview of the Social Media Manager role, responsibilities and tasks. I hope you find some of it useful.

Have I missed something important? Please leave a comment below and I'll update the article with your comments/suggestions.

If you found this useful please share it on your favourite social networks and by email to your colleagues. 

Comments and Suggestions from you

Codie, Thanks for your comment. I totally agree with you, that is always the focus on the Social Media Managers role. I added "Being a Customer Advocate" into the requirements. Also note that there is a large focus on connecting with customers and fans, engaging in their brand experiences, being useful and general banter.