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It’s easy to think that the job of managing  your company’s or clients’ social media accounts can be passed to any seemingly “tech-savvy” individual within your organisation.

At first glance, social media seems simple. Popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter have millions of users each and have thriving content creation communities. Anyone can have an account, talk about whatever and have a decent following.

But being a mere “active user” is not enough to qualify someone to be your Social Media Manager if you want substantial results. And while many other posts like this spout advice on the more executionary aspects, I’ll be focusing more on the sort of mindset that will lead to long-term sustainability.

1. An Understanding of the Platform’s Ecosystem

Being a Social Media Manager doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be an expert about every single feature, since things are changing almost every day. What’s more important is to understand how freedoms and limitations of each platform affect the way both users and brands use it.

For example, someone who’s been active and observant enough on both YouTube and Facebook may notice that the video consumption on both platforms are vastly different. On YouTube, you may find yourself watching videos from your favorite content creators and YouTube celebrities. But on Facebook, you’re largely watching videos from news outlets and brands.

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An active user stops at noticing that trend; a Social Media Manager should be exploring why that it’s happening.

The answer for the situation above can be quite complicated but the simplified version is this:

  • On Youtube: More videos = more ad space for brands to pay for. Google/YouTube are reliant on content creators’ success in order to earn money from advertisers, thus the platform heavily promotes and supports them through their front page and recommended videos.
  • On Facebook: Facebook limits the reach of  a brand page’s posts, even to their own fans, and requires them to pay to unlock that. Big companies are able to pay more and thus, you see sponsored/branded content (i.e. videos) more often on the feed. Additionally, users’ tendency to share more informative content contributes to the frequency of seeing the types of videos mentioned above.

The insights above exemplify the value of trying to understand a platform’s ecosystem, but it only scratches the surface. Thinking about these things helps establish how to strategize social media efforts in a way that doesn’t waste time and resources.

2. The Ability to Adapt to a Platform’s Language

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Every culture and sub-culture has their own distinct way of expressing themselves through language (different rules of turn-taking, grammatical structure, vocabulary, etc.). These differences are dependent on a number of factors including various social contexts and environmental norms. This idea of language being tied to culture is applicable to the language of different social media platforms too.

Think about it — each platform practically has its own culture.

  • LinkedIn is a professional network where users put their credentials and occupational experiences on their profile in hopes to attract networks for jobs and business. Users here are expecting professional communications with higher grammatical fluency and intellectual discussions within the platform’s content.
  • Facebook is much more personal and is generally a place for individuals to connect with family, friends, former classmates and other acquaintances. It’s also a platform where you show your interests, activities and personal values.

Would you speak the same way and use the same set of vocabulary in the workplace as you would at home? Of course not! Just like contexts in real life, each platform demands a different set of language patterns.

You can use all the hip lingo and all the fresh new memes, but those won’t get you very far if you can’t adapt your marketing discourse to the norms of the platform.

3. A Large Breadth of Basic Content Creation Know-how

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You can’t run Social Media without content, and you can’t make truly effective content without diversifying your posts. That’s fairly obvious. But you may look at this point and ask why it’s even necessary to know so much about content creation as a Social Media Manager. I mean…

  1. there IS a thriving and affordable freelance market out there;
  2. there’s plenty of agencies and content mills willing to be hired for the job;and
  3. some companies may even have their own in-house content teams.

So why should a Social Media Manager need to bother with knowing all this stuff related to graphic design, video production, copywriting, etc.? Shouldn’t it be enough that they’re able to do maybe only two of those things?

Frankly, no. Not when you want to make the most out of your Social Media efforts. Look around, everyone is jumping into digital and many of these operations are more than capable of getting someone with that bare minimum on their team. You need more than bare minimum to stand out in a world that’s oversaturated with media.

  • guide freelancers and in-house teams to create assets that are compelling to a social media audience. Creatives, as awesome as they are at what they do, don’t necessarily know how to create for social media. And even if they do, they’re able to accomplish so much more when you’re able to convey in their own lingo, what you want in a post.
  • continue creating timely content no matter what happens. Content creation doesn’t stop just because a company cannot afford freelancers or because the in-house team is busy. No, when push comes to shove, a Social Media Manager must be able to create the content the page needs

If your Social Media Manager is not willing to take a step further to learn various content creation skills, you’re in for a rough ride as 360-video and VR are becoming more and more mainstream.

4. The Willingness to Keep Up and Test

In the world of Social Media, no one is truly an expert. Social Media is changing every day — sometimes very prominently, sometimes very discreetly.

Because of that, mistakes and failures are inevitable. All of us in the field are just constantly playing with new algorithms and new rules administered by the platforms we use.

We cannot be complacent if we want to maintain our ‘expertise’ in the field.