Social media is my jam. As a social media specialist, I spend a minimum of 40 hours a week bouncing between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and whatever new platform pops up claiming to be the next big thing. For every person who hears I work in social media and exclaims how cool of a job that must be, there are probably ten others that look at me as if I’ve just spoken a different language. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, “well, that’s a job that didn’t exist ten years ago” or ask “and you get paid for that?” I would never have to work again.
My job is actually perfect for me because I have ADD. The medication I should be taking for it makes me sick whenever I eat, so instead I work really hard to stay organized and drink a lot of caffeine. Social media is great because unless I’m working on a report, I never have to pay attention to one thing for too long. There is always some notification going off somewhere with a message to respond to or a post to be scheduled. Weirdly enough, bouncing from one thing to another all day keeps me sane.
Wondering what I do during all those hours I spend staring at screens? Let’s explore what a job in social media entails.
The first thing I do after taking on a new account is perform a social media audit. I hunt down all the different accounts associated with the brand or company across all social media platforms. It’s crazy how many places have social media accounts they don’t even know about or rogue pages someone else created that are floating around unclaimed. If it’s a case of a rogue account, I start the process of claiming and optimizing the page. Usually these are on Facebook, so I upload a branded profile photo and cover photo, make sure all the contact and location information are correct and all urls direct to the correct location.
After the accounts are properly set up, I start building out an editorial calendar. The success of accounts hinge almost completely on the editorial calendar. Turning on your computer each morning wondering what you are going to post for the day is a recipe for disaster. Having a strategy that aligns with brand goals and marketing campaigns will help leverage social media as a key marketing tool. I generally work about a month and a half out for planning my posts. If I know there is a large campaign coming up that will require a longer approval process, 90 days is a good target to start planning. Generally at this stage, I’m working with post topics and not necessarily the actual verbiage that will go into the post.
After the overall calendar is built out, I start creating the actual posts. Here’s what you need for a successful post on the three major business platforms:
- Text – Remember you have 477 characters before Facebook slaps a “Read more” tag on your post and hides the rest of your copy.
- Photo or video – The Facebook algorithm favors media rich posts. Videos will go straight to the top of newsfeed, so take advantage of that if you can.
- Link – You want your posts to drive somewhere. Find somewhere on your website where people can go for more relevant information.
- Text – The copy in Instagram isn’t as important as the photo, but if you don’t write anything, you look lazy.
- Photo – Instagram is all about the visual. Make sure your image is stylized and pretty.
- Hashtags – You can include up to 30 hashtags per post. I recommend using as many as you can to extend the reach of your post.
- Tip: There are no clickable links in Instagram posts, but you can always swap out the link in your bio and tell people to visit that in your copy.
- Text – You have 140 characters to play with here. As of September 19, images and links no longer count toward that limit. Yay!!
- Image – Tweets with an image average a 35% boost in retweets.
- Link – You don’t get a lot of characters in a tweet, so use the link to drive to a place with more information. Also use a url shorter. It makes it look cleaner.
- Hashtags – Tweets with one or two hashtags get the most engagements.
I use Hootsuite for Twitter scheduling, the Facebook scheduler in Facebook and for Instagram, sadly there is no way to schedule your content there. However, Instagram recently started letting you save photos as drafts, so you can at least edit and filter your image ahead of time if you so desire. There is no ultimate best time to post to social media. It really depends on who your audience is. The schedule for targeting college students is going to look differently than targeting parents of young children. However, there are some good guidelines to follow you can read about here. My Instagram posts generally performed best between 7:30-8:30 PM when I lived on Central Time. However, if I waited until 8:30 on Pacific when most of my audience still lives on Central, I’d miss my window. Know your audience and take it from there.
A large amount of my time is spent monitoring social channels: responding to messages, complaints and comments. The faster you can address an issue on social, the better. Don’t let it just sit there festering. I also recommend taking a negative conversation offline. Give them a phone number or email address to use or get theirs and resolve the issue through one of those channels. You don’t really want them airing their dirty laundry all over your accounts for everyone to read. Sometimes people just want to feel heard and are so happy you’ve even responded that they don’t bother following up with your offline contact.
If you would have told me in college that I would spend as much time in Excel as I do, I would have told you you’re crazy. I am not a number person, but I’ve had to become one thanks to my position. If you can’t track ROI (return on investment) and prove the worth of your efforts, and therefore your job, you probably won’t get much support from your leadership. Engagements are the most important metric to me. A share is much harder to get than a like, so I weigh engagements differently. I put together monthly, quarterly, half yearly and yearly reports for clients. It is my least favorite part of my job, but being able to prove your worth is just as important as creating great content.
So there’s a broad overview of what I do as a social media professional. It’s definitely not everything, but I hope it gave you a taste of what the position entails. It’s a lot of work to do social well! Therefore, it’s not much of a surprise when someone throws up a couple last minute posts each week and doesn’t get great results. You get out what you put in. If you somehow stumbled onto this post and realize you are that person who just doesn’t have time to do it all, leave a comment below or use the contact form to get in touch with me. I’d be happy to help!
Want more social tips? Read about my favorite social media resources.