What it Means to Be a Social Media and Community Manager
The broad role of the social media and community manager can be broken down into several more narrow (though still very demanding) positions, such as social media strategist, social media marketer, community support specialist, community builder, brand evangelist, and content marketer (to name a few).
Regardless of specialization, social media and community managers serve two primary functions:
- Help brands develop better relationships with their customers
- Utilize social media channels
While social media and community managers work for dedicated brands full time, others work with multiple businesses at one time as a freelancers or through agencies.
Professionals in the social media and community management field are characterized by:
- Genuine enthusiasm about social media
- Interest in learning new skills
- Willingness to try new technologies
- Excellent written communication skills
- A strong sense of empathy and genuine interest in helping others
- Immense patience (even in the face of incredible rudeness and outright stupidity)
The Perks of Becoming a Social Media and Community Manager
Social media and community management can be an incredibly enjoyable pursuit; many working in the field can barely believe they get paid to do something they love so much. Benefits associated with the profession include:
- The ability to meet and communicate with a broad array of people from diverse backgrounds
- Work that is typically fast-paced, varied, and complex
- High likelihood that you will develop a large personal network over time
- The ability to more or less choose what to work on (especially should you work for a startup)
- The opportunity to learn about cutting edge platforms as they come out
- The option to work from home (in many cases)
Major Myths Associated with Social Media and Community Managers
Community management and social media maintenance is by no means new and certainly not all fun and games.
Many who are interested in the profession are not aware that:
- Community management is not a new profession; people have been managing online communities for close to 20 years now
- There is no small amount of drudgery associated with the profession (you are likely to find yourself answering the same questions over and over, running numbers, responding to troubleshooting queries)
- You will probably not be given much of a budget to work with (most companies expect social media and community managers to handle everything expense free)
- You are not likely to get much human support (community managers are often expected to manage all things social media and community-related independently)
- Not all clients and bosses will give you the latitude you need to work quickly and efficiently (instead, they may need to write off on things as granular as tweets before they can go out)
- You will be forced to work with (and be extremely courteous toward) customers, community members, and clients who behave immaturely and impolitely
- You may have to work with colleagues who neither understand nor respect your work
Major Trends in Social Media and Community Management
Genuine Connections are More Important - and Harder to Establish
We no longer live in an age in which only a small number of companies "get" social media. With more brands working their ways into people's Facebook and Twitter feeds, online audiences will find ways to ignore them (just as they have learned to ignore banner ads).
Online brands that maintain our attention will be those who manage to establish genuine connections with their followers. This means it is all the more important that social media managers:
- Showcase humans as brand representatives (whether those humans are company executives, designers, or the company's social media and community managers); people are far more likely to pay attention to real humans rather than faceless brands
- Maintain an active dialogue with community members rather than share one-way information
- Provide information via blogs, web properties, and social media that is inherently interesting, entertaining, or useful- even to those who are not interested in buying something or becoming a member
Content Marketing on a Continued Rise
Content marketing is a hot concept now, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Hype or not, many social media and community managers will be expected to head up their clients' content marketing efforts, and this requires:
- Marketing savvy
- Strong writing skills
- A clear understanding of a company's strategic goals
- More resources in terms of time
Should your client(s) or employer express interest in content marketing, make it clear that proper content marketing efforts require significant resources in terms of time. Explain that you can only achieve so many things as a single person, and if you are to maintain your present responsibilities in addition to new content marketing efforts, you will need additional support.
Also, if you are not presently confident about your writing skills, make an effort to improve them. Read a book or two on writing. Practice publishing posts on your personal blog. Time invested in improving writing skills will by no means be time wasted; even if your clients do not need you to head up content marketing efforts, robust writing abilities will help you land bigger and better jobs in the future.
Social Media and Community Management Being Absorbed into Traditional Departments
Because a digital presence has come to be seen as a crucial aspects of any business's dealings, and because average employees are becoming more comfortable with social media and online communication themselves, social media and community management in some companies is being absorbed into more traditional departments- specifically those designated for marketing and customer support.
Marketing departments are taking on social media tasks related to driving views and conversions, increasing the company website's SEO, and content marketing. Customer support departments are beginning to integrate social media into their customer support solutions (fielding more and more queries through sites like Facebook and Twitter, for example) and utilize online properties (forums, tutorials, Facebook pages, Pinterest accounts, blogs, etc.) to cultivate customer ambassador programs, increase retention rate, and improve customer satisfaction.
This shift is creating new opportunities for social media and community managers:
- To train traditional departments to utilize social media in a manner that will help them meet their goals
- To take leading positions within those departments, helping them adapt to the digital age
- To build those departments from the ground up (if working in a startup that does not yet have them)
- To transition into more specialized roles (those of marketing and customer support experts, rather than just go-to social media and online community experts)
Social Media and Community Management Morphing into an Independent Department
Though some business are integrating social media and online community-related tasks into existing departments, other businesses are creating entirely new departments built around online communities and social media. These departments also give community managers new opportunities: either to specialize in a certain aspect of social media and community management (e.g. ambassador programs or content marketing) or take on managerial roles (e.g. directing a social media team and making sure that all communications and posts have a cohesive tone and help the company meet specific goals).
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