About two years ago in 2011, a few months shy of when I was first hired into my job as a social media manager, the LA Times ran an article on how employers were investing more into social media and hiring individuals to run departments to establish a social media presence for their brand. In 2011, the number of jobs had increased over 75% that year alone and while that was great news for anyone looking for a job in a field with more freedom and less restrictions than your average career grants, it was also a field where the duties were much more vague.
Once hired into the position of social media manager, your time becomes measured in so many ways. What you do and how you do it needs to be accounted for and you can only get away with light tweeting and fluffy posts on the company blog for so long. The problem is that more often than not, there is no blueprint in place on what to do next. The more demanding the position, the more you will be expected to keep up with the company’s respective social media platforms, morning, noon, and night. And the less demanding the position and duties, the more likely it’ll become that, unless you start showing real results for your work, your position could be first on the chopping block in the event of the company needing to scale back financially.
While this article doesn’t explicitly state it, social media managers need to make their first week on the job quite telling of what’s to come in the weeks thereafter. If you just started your job in social media and have no clue what to do next, take a few of my suggestions into account.
Show off your skills in a big, BIG, way.
Most people spend the first week of their job focusing on settling in and getting to know the people around them. I’m all for that, but that does not necessitate an entire week to do either. What you want to do is push yourself to go above and beyond in something that is not listed outright in your duties syllabus.
When I was first hired, my boss was just beginning to look into the idea of becoming a contributing writer with various business blogs and wanted me to reach out to a list she had put together. I contacted the various editors at these sites and waited. But rather than waiting on these individuals to get back to me, I also started Googling some sites of my own to see if there were any other cool places we could write at in the meantime. The first site that got back to me that was a small business focused online magazine headquartered in London with an active Twitter following. It was not on the original list, but it did become the first place that an article I had ghostwritten under her name was featured. And there’s nothing more exciting than to say your first assignment got attention (and a new audience drawn in) across the pond either.
Don’t be content to follow the instructions given and never deviate from them. Reach out and keep reaching in all kinds of directions – you never know what might bite!
Get to work early, stay late, and keep emailing post 9-5.
Pop quiz time!
You’re a new manager working on a blog post and its 4:55 PM. You’re supposed to be off the clock in 5 minutes. What do you do next?
a) Rush through the post, no matter whether you’re still at the beginning, middle or end.
b) Finish what you can and save the draft for tomorrow to wrap up first thing.
c) Stay put and keep working until the job is completed.
I hope you chose letter C. Maybe it’s not the most popular idea to stay late after the work day is over, especially if you’re on a time clock and aren’t getting paid after this point, but during your first week in the office it’s important to show how dedicated you are to the position. It doesn’t go unnoticed, believe me. What does get noticed is the social media manager who makes a stampede to the door the moment the clock strikes 5 PM every single day. For the most part however, given how absorbed you are in the blog post and research associated with it, you’re not likely to act like this. If anything you’ll blink and realize that it’s well past 5 – and you didn’t even notice.
During my second week on the job, my boss had scheduled a half hour meeting with me and the director of operations at the company.
But what will we even be discussing for 30 whole minutes?! My internal Jiminy Cricket conscience had no idea what was to come next and was getting panicked to the point of needing a paper bag to breathe into. You need a plan of action in place! Start drafting!
And so I did. Right up until that meeting started, I wrote down a list of the items I had been working on, initiatives I was undertaking on my own, and ideas I had on growing the department. When I went into the room, nobody spoke at first except to exchange a few chit chatty conversation starters. I remembered saying something first about my list and how I had some topics I wanted to bring up.
And everything from then on out was history. It felt only natural to kick that meeting off on my own, rather than wait for someone to notice me (which admittedly in a room filled with only three people wouldn’t take that long). I had a lot on my plate that I wanted to talk about. I wanted to show off what I had been doing well and get feedback on what else I could start doing. Who wants to sit around and wait for someone to look at them and encourage them to speak up? Why not just start speaking now?
Taking charge may be the most valuable skill you have on your side in social media. No social media manager can ever expect to fade away into the background. You’re creating a face for a brand and being held accountable for all that happens there, as well as knowing to address issues that arise diplomatically and thoughtfully. Take initiative. Pay attention to details. Try a little bit of everything out and see what works best. Have fun - I seriously can’t say this one enough, please don’t let one rude, grammatically incorrect tweet ruin your day.
Above all, stand tall and stand up! You worked hard to get this job, now it’s time to rock it!
image: social media/shutterstock