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Dissecting the Social Media Manager

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Social media is one of the most misunderstood marketing tools in use today. Misconceptions regarding proper usage, campaigns and associated KPIs are constantly referenced as a proof that social works--or, conversely, that it is a complete waste of time. Every second, over 5,700 tweets are sent and over 2.5 billion pieces of content is shared on Facebook every day. Combine that with the volume of information on other social network sites like Google+ and Pinterest, and you have an utter deluge of information.

Additionally, a recent Nielsen study has shown that 54 percent of consumers use social as a primary source for their decision making process. In defining social media, it is important to define those who use it professionally. In his recent ebook, Social Pros All-Stars: Career Paths and Tips from 27 Company Social Media Professionals, Jay Baer compiled a slew of successful social media experts and asked them what it takes to succeed in the field and what tips they would give to anyone seeking a career in social media management. Their answers weren't surprising.

Get rid of the misconceptions

"Here are a few of my favorite misconceptions," says Jason Miller, Social Content Manager for Jim Beam. "I'm on Facebook all day, you have to be young and a super user to be successful, and you work in a vacuum."

Social media managers must constantly compete for exposure through the torrent of information that is shared every day. "The biggest misconceptions to me is not understanding the scope of work and resources it takes to run social media," says Bryan Srabian, Director of Digital Marketing for the San Francisco Giants. "Social Media is not free, and companies that are succeeding are dedicating resources, building teams of people and transitioning their current workflow to a more digital ecosystem inspired my social media."

Agency experience is a thing

Among those featured in the ebook, 58 percent had experience at an advertising/marketing/PR agency. Agencies are fast-paced environments that require specialists to promote/advocate products and services they have to learn about quickly and then promote just as fast.

"I'm a PR practitioner by trade and actually started working in an agency while I earned an undergrad in Public Relations from Florida A&M University. It was a great Petri dish for learning how to present ideas, persuade audiences and compel action - all the elements of great storytelling," says Adrian Parker, Vice President of Digital Marketing at the Patrón Spirits Company.

They all take social seriously

Despite popular perceptions, social media management is not simply sitting on Facebook all day. "Tomorrow's careers in social media are heavily focused on the business elements, including governance, globalization, technology adoption, user experiences and content strategies. It's important to think about what you want to accomplish before assuming that all social jobs are created equal. The best preparation for a career in social media is learning how to listen, communicate and problem-solve," Adrian continues.

The ability to see social as a direct line to customer engagement is paramount when considering social as a viable marketing tool. Engagement is the key word, as most shares within the social realm stem from a personal, rather than professional, intention. Consumers share virtually everything about themselves whenever they feel like it. This presents marketers with opportunities to engage each person individually, matching the brand attributes with whatever problems they are trying to solve.

For social media managers, dealing with the wake in the sea of information is as important as staying ahead of it, both for proper customer engagement and for brand management within the sea of social media. Having a clear understanding of what it takes to accomplish both proves the impact of social and the meticulous nature of trying to manage the storm, and find its value.