Have you just landed a job as managing your company social media accounts and you’re reeeeally not quite sure what to do? Don’t sweat it – it’s most actually pretty common!

Social media is a slippery little speciality – it is sort of marketing, sort of IT, sort of reception. It is sort of all of these things.  For this reason, it’s easy to get handed the reins even if your department traditionally hasn’t done anything like social media before.

Looking for a crash course in what the job involves? Well, today’s post is about demystifying the role and clearing up just what’s involved in the job of the average social media community manager.

Creating killer content

One of the most well-known aspects of managing a social media account is the content creation. We’ve all heard the stereotype of the social media community manager just popping a picture of a cute kitten on their Facebook page and BAM – afternoon off, job done.

The reality is that creating content is far more complex than that. Often, you will be working towards business goals with every post. Ideally, you’ll be working off a social media strategy which sets the roadmap for this. Creating content might involve you directing customers to your site, it might be creating content to educate your audience, or it might be content to connect with your audience to build relationships with them (more on community engagement later!).

Related: [Online Course] The Essentials Guide To Designing A Social Media Strategy

If you work in a large organisation, there’s no doubt your social posts need to support existing marketing campaigns: it could be a sale, an event or promotion. You might even have third parties have bought advertising via your social channels. Ensuring these multiple stakeholders’ needs are met are important, so being organised and ensuring you’re hitting all these goals with your content is essential.

On top of that, the content you write should be in the tone that reflects your company’s brand tone of voice. For example, if you’re a legal office, you can be sure there will be no emoticons on that page. If you’re targeting teens, you probably do want emoticons. Your job each day is to act as the embodiment of the company, and it’s values – whether that’s formal, friendly, fun or inspiring (or anywhere in between!).

Another approach many brands take is sharing content that reflects their brand values. Are you a hiking shoe company? Why not check out this list of must-climb mountains. It’s not talking about shoes, or their quality or prices – but reflecting the story that brand wants to tell.

On a day-to-day basis, you’re likely to use a content calendar, which is a listing of all the posts you will make, the channel and their time. A content calendar is used to ensure all content has the right tone of voice, messages aren’t being duplicated and are free of typos. (If you’re after a template of this, check out my freebie available here).

I haven’t even touched on graphic design, but ensuring your images are professionally designed and to the right size for each social network is a must. For the majority of day-to-day social media posts, graphic designers are not involved, and you need to make your images look a million bucks. Taking advantage of tools like Canva, Pixlr and creative commons images on sites like Pixabay will be your bread and butter.

Community Engagement

Community engagement has a lot of different purposes. In an ideal world, it’s about creating a connection with your community and audience, centred around values your audience and business share. This connection is used to break down those barriers and build trust and relationships, which lead to customers consider your brand when they next need the product you sell.

However, for a long time, community engagement was a huge focus online because the more people commented or liked a page, the more people would see it (the “reach” of a post). The logic was that the more people who commented on a post, the more people’s friends saw their posts – and thus free advertising. But now, with social media algorithms restricting the reach of posts, things have changed and (hopefully) these engagements are more about that relationship building.

One of the realities of being a social media manager is that you wear a lot of hats – and being on the social media frontline means you’re customer facing. And that means customer service.

While there is the glamorous side of working in social media and chatting online all day, there is the flipside where it can be really emotionally draining to be in customer service. Compounding this, if your customer base sees you as a ‘nameless brand’, it’s not uncommon for them to get abusive. That is really tough to deal with day to day, but a reality for many online community managers.

Having a set of community guidelines and an issue escalation policy is a great way to reduce the likelihood of these. In terms of keeping one’s sanity, ensuring a healthy work-life balance is essential in this kind of role.

Related: Self-Care for Community Managers (Online Panel Discussion)

Data analysis and reporting

For those who love the creative and human communication side of social media, it can be tough to appreciate the numbers side.

Weekly or monthly reports which review which posts were most successful, what the common threads are in them, the page growth rates or the page demographics are all part of the reporting round up.

But these numbers also tell us a lot about people: if we can look through the numbers and look for the patterns, we can learn a lot about what our audience is passionate about, and create more content that engages them.

Related: The Killer KPIs You Need to Be Tracking on Your Social Media

Competitions

At least once a year, it’s likely you’ll be working on a social media competition. Whether it’s to raise awareness of your brand, a product, or boost engagement, running a competition is a big deal because there is so much planning that goes on behind the scenes to make sure it works.

The big challenge with running a competition is that it’s legally binding due to the terms and conditions. This means you can’t change it part way through – so you need to ensure you’ve planned it end-to-end before you begin. For example, it’s common for people do design a competition where people Like a page to enter a competition – only to discover they have no way to find the names of people who have entered, or to be able to contact them to draw a winner. It’s a little bit of a lawsuit waiting to happen if you don’t draw a winner.

I’ve written about mistakes to avoid when running a competition, how to ensure your competition objective meets your audience needs and the steps for an Instagram competition. Check ’em out if you’re going down that road because the more planning that you do before a competition, the less chance of things going wrong during the competition.

Social Media Ads

Some companies have marketing teams that manage their social media ads, and sometimes they don’t. However, it’s unlikely in your social media career that you won’t have some exposure to running Facebook ads. Depending on your social media strategy and your goals, you may find you need to run ads to complement offline marketing campaigns, to drive traffic to your site or to increase brand awareness.

Running social media ads is a whole different beast to creating organic social media content, and you need to really fire up that passion for data, testing and analysis. Facebook ads is a lot less about creating amazing copy, but a lot more about knowing your audience (from a demographic and interests perspective) and delving into the data and finding patterns there.

Check out the blog post in answering the questions you might have around running ads for the first time – and if you want to get hands-on, I’ve got an online course on how to run Instagram ads, too.

Feel like you’ve got a bit more of a handle on what’s involved in the job? Amazing! And if you don’t feel like you’re 100% prepared, that’s ok too. Social media is a constantly changing industry, and a lot of it is learned on the job through your own testing, analysis and research. Google is your BFF. Keep curious, keep creative and have fun!

Rachel Beaney is an Australian freelance social media specialist with over a decade in digital media. She’s worked with global names like Microsoft, Samsung, News Corp and General Assembly, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping clients solve their business needs with creative and data-driven solutions. Get in touch today for a free consultation call.