When social media was still relatively new, the running joke used to be that the intern was at fault whenever a brand suffered a social media screw-up.
The days of social media being regarded as something you just do on the side are long over. Now social media management is an important profession staffed by highly-skilled practitioners who help companies and brands engage, connect, and maintain strong relationships with their audiences.
This was particularly evident during the pandemic, when they served as first responders of sorts. Says Alexya Brown, who does social media for news website DCist, “It is an essential job….we’re in service to our audience.”
Social media management has become so important for companies that Chief Marketing Offers are predicted to be increasingly chosen from their ranks: “Adding to their expertise and further qualifying them for CMO roles, these social media managers are the early adopters who grew up with apps, evolved with algorithms and turned social media into a career…. [The CMO role is] no longer reliant upon traditional media success, but more on how creatively you can communicate with multiple generations, each residing in different apps.”
Today there are more than 26,725 social media managers working in the U.S., according to online recruitment services company Zippia, with an average age of 38. Over 60% are women and 79% have a Bachelor’s degree.
Zoetic Media founder Kami Huyse understands the important role social media managers play in a company’s success. As she points out, “The social media manager is the most direct link to the customer and is in a unique position to understand what motivates people to buy from you. As the voice of the brand, they bring great insight into what customers really want and also what isn’t working. It’s a huge mistake if you don’t utilize this team member to tweak your overall marketing approach. Listen to them and treat them well.”
Zoetica’s Social Media Community Manager Traci Shannon furthers, “very often it is the social media manager that will be the first to hear of a product flop, a social faux-pas, or any other negative feedback.”
In other words, don’t shoot the messenger.
When you are looking to hire a manager, keep these qualities in mind. You need someone with a fresh perspective and the ability to act in the moment, but also someone whom you trust to act appropriately and to report back with transparency. They need to be a person with enough experience and resolve to handle the crisis with the voice of the customer and yet face back with accurate reports even when it is not all sunshine and rainbows.
Finally, a social media manager is the voice of the company, so choose wisely and then empower them to do their job and represent the company.
The role of the social media manager is all grown up. It's time that companies recognize them for what they are – the front line face of your brand.