I began my social media career back in 2011 having joined various platforms a couple of years before. Social media management was a gleam in the eye but very few people really understood what it involved.
Nowadays social media management is a fully-fledged career with various qualifications, apprenticeships and certificates. But honestly, what is social media management all about and what do social media managers actually do?
I guess that depends who you ask. One comment I read recently on a social media managers group summed it up quite well:
“So much of what we do for a brand on Facebook is behind the scenes, barely noticed even by other admins. Coordinating profile and cover photos with other social accounts. Reviewing which topics seem to do best. Looking over how competitors are handling the same topics. Then it’s claiming and then merging or shutting down the fake pages. Analysing the best timing for engagement and reach. Setting preferred page audiences. Tracking metrics. Sending page invites. Having your page like other pages and their content.
It’s all very incremental..”
It’s true. There’s so much beneath the surface and businesses often don’t realise just how much leg work has to be done before anyone can even begin posting. This is all quite different from the early days. When brands first got their collective head around social media it was considered a marketing and selling tool. Broadcasting was key. But socially savvy brands have finally come to the conclusion that social media is basically social. Erm, the key was in the title guys!
Social media management is the ultimate career for anyone seeking challenge, risk and constant change
Social media management is about having and continuing to develop powerful content to share. Also learning new things, constantly evolving and trying to adapt in an ever-shifting landscape. It must be said that social media management is the ultimate career for those looking for constant challenge, risk, creativity and total panic.
So what does social media success look like for social media managers?
That’s quite a difficult question to answer. But what I would say is developing a broad reach and an audience that loves what you publish. A broad reach is vital regardless of your niche. It’s not all about selling but promoting inspiration to lock into the aspirational tendencies of social media users; Pinterest thrives on this.
Although analytics take up much time and effort it’s often hard to truly gauge ROI. I’ve said that reach is important but if something does well does that equate to success? One thing you can say is that if someone cares enough about your content to share it then you are obviously doing something right. So don’t underestimate that small statistic. It’s basically a hint that you are providing the solutions and answers people are seeking. Social media is one facet of an eclectic mix. Sometimes it feels intangible but it’s a valuable part of outreach and may be a catalyst for a deeper relationship if you reach out and engage too.
So what’s the future for brand social media efforts?
There are many aspects but I would say probably more live and real-time events are crucial. Think about using:
- Facebook Live
- Tweet chats for example.
Also the future is about thinking differently…it’s not about tradition. Social media management styles have to be totally agile and flexible and change needs to be built into the way we all create and distribute content.
Adaptation is also important – no one wants to watch a video for a whole hour. Hey, even breakfast cereal manufacturers are discovering ‘on the go’ breakfast pots are their best sellers. They are responding to need and need on social media platforms switches like a flock of birds suddenly swerving east. That’s why social media management should be about strategy first not just delivery or simply having a token presence on Twitter. Getting everyone in an organisation to contribute gives different perspectives. As long as there are careful brand guidelines it should equate to an exciting ever-changing social media feed. That’s what people want.
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So my tips for social media management in 2017 are:
Customer experience management
This underpins everything. Content is great but interacting immediately with comments, questions, criticism and feedback is more important.
CEM or CXM mean that every brand should be overseeing and tracking their interactions with every customer throughout their relationships….not just at the beginning. It’s a long game and the aim really has to be increasing a customer’s satisfaction, then creating a sense of loyalty then hoping that loyalty will transform into advocacy. Think about just what makes you recommend something. You not only have to meet expectations every time, these days you need to be seen to be exceeding them.
It’s hard because you often have to work cross platform. Your customers and potential customers are all over the place. You really need how to work out how to reach them, inspire and please them then look after them.
If your clients are somewhere other than you happen to be you have to learn how to be there too. Data can be very useful in the planning of content. You can easily see where people are coming from and what answers to questions they are looking for.
The customer journey
People talk about the sales funnel but I think it’s an out dated concept. I like to think of the customer journey starting right out in another universe. It takes a very long time to pull people into your orbit. So if they finally make it to your website planet then give the experience they crave otherwise they’ll disappear into another solar system never to return. So do remember that sharing provocative, educational or informative content, answering queries or complaints these are part of the many facets that go into social media management. But what they have in common is the fact they are all part of the customer journey. So have this uppermost in your mind when sharing any content.
Find your target customer by researching your audience
Understanding the people who are in your social feed or you are hoping to attract is important. We get to understand our friends and learn what they like and dislike, what pleases or frustrates them. This should be reflected in your social media output. If you have this knowledge to will help you build your customer experience management. Remember online conversations can help you uncover powerful insights about your customers. You might be surprised just how many different segments make up your customer base. If you do your research you can start to reach out with more confidence. It’s all about experience not broadcasting. Develop your personality and be the person people gravitate towards because your fun, knowledgeable, empathetic etc.
Your social media management should help improve customer service.
The great aspect of social is that you can offer up bespoke and personalised content for different segments or even individuals. The idea is to make people feel valued and important. Customers now have massive power. What are you doing to improve their overall experience? Price isn’t the main driver but creating an emotional response or need is. Customer service, which is an incredibly old fashioned skill is still highly valuable so don’t ignore it. If you want to be prosaic about it remember that customer service online can help reduce costs, guarantee swifter response times and develop happier customers who are much more likely to be advocates and evangelists for your brand. Personalisation may well pay considerable dividends on any investment so don’t overlook it.
Last but not least
Choosing your social media management team should take as much time as finding any new member of staff. You need to be part of the conversation. Please don’t leave it to them. They have your reputation in their hands.
Vivienne Neale is a director of VKN Digital and specialises in social media consultancy and strategy.