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5 Real Issues Social Media Managers Face on a Daily Basis

ImageIn the nearly two years I’ve been working as a social media manager, I’ve read through thousands of news stories, written hundreds of blog posts, emailed both on and off the clock, worked patiently for hours with two interns, and watched way too many hilarious videos of cats to count.

As the years have gone on, I’m not as doe-eyed about the position or the field itself as I was when I first started. Social media is tough. It’s demanding, obsessed with keywords and links and ROI, and often a career position that few people can fully define what all happens in it. It’s not a job for the faint at heart or those looking to do just the bare minimum.

On the plus side, you never stop learning but for as much of a plus as that can be it’s also a con in its own right – you never stop learning. It’s expected of any social media manager worth their salt to be constantly “on” and moving and shaking, but one can only be raised up so high with their name mentioned in publications or blogging about the same seasonal topics for so long before the inevitable crash occurs. And then it’s easy to feel like all of the creativity has been zapped out of you forever and you can’t write anything because you’ve been completely drained on the blogging front.

I would know. I’m currently going through that feeling right now. But I’m pushing forward with the aid of my team by my side to get through it because I won’t let that issue, or the following five ones social media managers face on a daily basis, get me down.

1) The “Do You Just Go on Facebook All Day?” Stereotype

There’s always “that person” who will ask you what you do for a living and if you reply that you work in social media, they always go, “So are you just hanging out on Facebook all day?” and chuckle to themselves like they were the first person to ever make that jab at your job. I am always the first to declare a strong “no” to this question and describe a little bit about what actually goes into the job. This stereotype needs to die, people, and the only way to ever get it to fade away is to educate others about what you do when asked.

2) Forever Fighting for the Position

I have a quiet fear deep inside of me that if sales slide at the company I work for drastically for whatever reason, my job would be one of the first to get the ax. Separate from that fear is a different one where I would like to keep my position and move to a different city and telecommute from there, but I worry that out of sight means out of mind and that would also lead to a sudden job loss.

In social media, I feel like managers are forever fighting for their positions and to demonstrate as much as humanly possible what they bring to the business they work for and how what they bring is unlike that of any other person. Social media is by no means a fad that will fade away anytime soon and can be done well no matter where you’re located, but in an economy where no job is ever truly secure the thought of “what if?” could effectively drive you crazy if you think about it for too long.

3) Age and Time

Neither can be escaped and you’re always racing against one or the other. In the age category, companies demand a specific number of years of social media experience out of a person and yet publications cry out in op/ed pieces time after time that social media is a job for the 25 and under set. As far as time is concerned, if you work on the West Coast you’re forever running three hours behind to catch up to the East Coast. And vice versa – trying to remember that your 7 AM EST emails will not be answered by the PST set for several hours to come.

On matters of time and age, acknowledge that it is what it is. There is no magic number for the best age to perform working in social media well at, no magic hour where all of your emails will be answered all at once and you won’t have to wait on anyone. I’d rather get a thought out response several hours, or even days, after I sent the initial first email than make a snap decision that I didn’t think through.

4) Content for Content’s Sake

The internet is constantly littered in articles about ‘90s boy bands rehashed over and over for clicks from the nostalgic set which at this point appears to be all of us. This is only the tip of the iceberg in creating content for content’s sake that I’m worried about though.

Far too many articles today pander to the lowest common denominator. Journalist Gay Talese said, “I think most journalists are pretty lazy, number one. A little lazy and also they're spoon-fed information....you have these people who create a package of news, develop it as a story line, a scenario, and they find, as Mailer once said about the press, that they're like a donkey. You have to feed the donkey. The donkey every day has to eat. So [special interests] throw information at this damn animal that eats everything. Tin cans, garbage.”

To be relevant online today, the belief is that one needs to be posting all day long with scheduled tweets and Facebook statuses and blog posts, never taking a break because if you do, you don’t register on the Google search horizon. While I am aware that this makes older generations, and anyone who lacks a raw writing ability in particular, the most nervous and sends them on a power trip to have everyone constantly working on a robotic SEO laden content free for all, I refuse to play along.

I will not write about anything I’m not passionate about. If you don’t have passion about the topic you’re focused on blogging about, a reader can tell. A reader knows when you’re half-assing it. The internet may be a mess of articles that are so basic it makes the eyeballs glaze over, but in that same mess is a wealth of hidden knowledge. There’s always something going on in the news that you can read about and find a facet that intrigues you, makes you question and think, and eventually write about it while tying in the place that you work for along the way.

Isn’t that what good written content is supposed to be doing? You are a writer, after all.

5) Self Promotion

I am a social media manager. I am an editor and blogger. I am also a ghostwriter, most notably for my boss’s Forbes account where I have written over 100 articles under her name. While this is hardly a secret, it has its own share of difficulties from time to time, particularly where self promotion is concerned.

It breaks down like this. Companies want to discuss their new products or services on a major outlet where they can link back to their website and drive customers to said site through clicks. Many websites have rules and regulations about self promotion because when a blogger self promotes it turns the article into an advertisement and has nothing of actual substance to contribute. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to click on a link to an article discussing how wonderful XYZ company is, written by the same damn company, when I have over twenty other meaty news stories demanding my attention. Save that for your Tumblr blog or a company blog instead and talk yourself up there. On outside outlets, it’s all about the careful coupling of real news/tips/advice with a brief mention of your own company.

In the event that not even that mention can be included, load up your author bio with links back to your website and where a reader can find you through social media. Focus on making the article passionately written about a topic you know and understand and want to bring to the attention span of as many people as possible.

It’s not an easy thing to do and you may need help. In that event, enter the social media manager. We’ve got this. It’s our job.

Join The Conversation

  • Mar 5 Posted 4 years ago sandratedford

    Hi Heather,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I can relate to what you stated about the SMM role. Someone recently stated to me how social media does'nt require much time and can be done in a day. I really don't think most people have a clue that Social Media Managers have to understand the industry, the company, the goals of the organization and much more in order to effectively communicate with their clients audience. Perhaps if they understood what's required in order to be an SMM, the likelihood of receiving snide comments would decline. 

  • Mar 4 Posted 4 years ago melliott

    Thank you Heather, as all of these points definitely resonate with me as well.

    In my current position, which I moved across the state to do, I actually had to stand up and fight for myself three months into it. This is a startup company with only two years in the actual business, and in the middle of Podunk, Nowheresville.

    Without getting too sour sounding, the owner/operator actually asked me how long it would actually take me to write a couple of Facebook posts and Twitter, because it only "takes me 20 minutes, at most, to scroll through my Twitter." I had to explain to him that I had to read each Twitter link that seemed interesting to make sure that it was appropriate to post, and actually find/create things to post, which takes much longer than Googling and linking back to the first result.

    I'm still fighting for my position, and I have the same complaint as David - I have to dumb down a lot of the things that I generate because our target audience is just not educated in our product/service stream. Without some sort of response from our market, I am just flailing in the water and hoping that I'll generate responses one day soon!

  • Mar 1 Posted 4 years ago JosephNed

    Good article Heather.


    Really hits home for a lot of what Social Media Managers deal with on a regular basis. Especially 4.

    I also like what you brought up in one of your comments, that when the department was just formed, there wasn't tons to do. But very soon, its a juggling act to get as much done as possible to show them you are contributing something unique.

    Social Media, just like marketing, has an endless list of 'To Do' tasks. If you aren't in the industry, you just don't have an idea of what is involved and how much time it takes.

    And trying to get approval for programs that will make data collection and reporting easier? Forget about it! That should be point 6: Fight Like Hell Not to be Last on the Resources List. 

  • Mar 1 Posted 4 years ago ThePetBlogLady

    I am a professional pet blogger so being on social media is my job in a sense. I could so relate to many points in the article.  Especially the "So you just go on Facebook all day long"  Or Face Place as my mom calls it.

    Really glad I stumbled upon this site.  Very informative with lots of funny and creative peeps.  Works for me.

    Lisa Taron





  • David Blide's picture
    Feb 23 Posted 4 years ago David Blide

    Great article.  Thank you.  I enjoyed reading it.

    I can especially relate to "you're on Facebook all day".  I can't remember the number of times I've heard that.

    Your point on quality content struck a chord with me.  I got a sense of your passion on the topic as I read the article.  But this also raised two questions I hope you can help me with.

    1.  I spend at least 8 hours of each day involved with social networks.  I'm sure you spend quite a bit also. Many of the people I interact with, on blogs such as this, do also.  However, most of my clients are not as familiar with the social networks.  My first question is how basic should you make the content without "dumbing it down" to much?

    2. Where do you get inspiration for your posts?  

  • howveryheather's picture
    Feb 22 Posted 4 years ago howveryheather

    And we HATE that feeling too. There's nothing worse than having the job that you work so hard at and give 100% to each and every day seen as being dismissive by somebody else. Do I believe that in the future the social media landscape may change from what it is now? Sure. Do I think some platforms may collapse or become part of a larger community that houses several sites under one roof? Always possible. Do I think because of potential future change to come that the entire concept will die out? Never. Never not ever.

  • howveryheather's picture
    Feb 22 Posted 4 years ago howveryheather

    I absolutely agree with you, Shell. For me, this was a job that started off not-so-demanding because the department had just been formed. Gradually over time it became a very real juggling act and a battle to stay balanced and not get too overwhelmed along the way. As much as I can, I like to make it fun (because social media is at the core a social experience which equals fun, laughs, and good times in my book) and take breaks often because otherwise getting stuck in the keyword/SEO/ROI web could truly consume you.

  • howveryheather's picture
    Feb 22 Posted 4 years ago howveryheather

    See, at least you had the physical act of ripping paper. Everything I do is all online with little to no paper trail included and to the untrained eye, it can easily look like it only takes a few minutes to do. Or twenty minutes at most. But rushing to get something done allows for too many mistakes to be made which only hurts your company (and self) in the long run so I fully vouch for taking your time and accummulating those years of experience that come with it.

  • howveryheather's picture
    Feb 22 Posted 4 years ago howveryheather

    I like your style, Wade.

  • Darren Johnson's picture
    Feb 22 Posted 4 years ago Darren Johnson

    Great article. Forever fighting for the position is one of those areas I feel most social media managers can relate with. It seems to me that as long as people continue to feel that it is a fad or a passing trend, sm managers will constantly be going through this. Thanks for taking the time to tackle this subject and share your thoughts.

  • ubersocialmedia's picture
    Feb 22 Posted 4 years ago ubersocialmedia

    You've raised some interesting points.  When people know your role or part of your role involves social media, they can become instantly dismissive, as if your job just involves playing on Facebook all day.  I agree the job is demanding.  It involves juggling countless things at the same time and means you can never really switch off.

    it's easy to be overloaded and swamped by the sheer amount of infomration we have to read and process each day. Amongst other things we need to be highly analytical in order to filter and make sense of all the data and content, as well as being high disciplined and focused.

    Thanks for an insightful article.

  • amssvs's picture
    Feb 22 Posted 4 years ago SalemAMB

    Very well thought out and introspective article.

    "What do you do all day?" Brought back memories when I worked the wire desk (yes, dating myself) and the comment was "so you sit there all day ripping paper off a machine and you rewrite a few words?" After awhile I got tired of telling them there were years of experience in knowing 'why' a story was a good one to rip, 'which' words to rewrite and 'who' to assign to get a local angle.

    Keep the passion. The readers can sense it in your topics; they can feel it in your words

  • makemyblogmoney's picture
    Feb 22 Posted 4 years ago makemyblogmoney

    Lol, I get this all the time from people...being an ex coal miner, and living in a town that knows nothing of the internet, when people ask what I do for a living, it usually gets a good laugh, followed by a jab at my job choice.

    But then I go home, check my bank account, and laugh too.

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