The first time I heard that there was a job called “Social Media Manager” I thought it was a joke.
Now I am one.
It took some time. Like many people who used computers heavily but not creatively, I didn’t see a need to change the way things were done. My first social media accounts were created for me by friends, then collected dust. In fact, the first time I ever heard that you could connect your computer to another computer through a phone line, it seemed like a big waste of time. Now, of course, a computer without internet just feels like a typewriter.
Businesses are a lot like I was. For the most part, what they’re doing works. Change doesn’t seem necessary. And social media can seem like a toy, its only purpose to re-connect with school friends. It’s hard for someone who spent years building a successful company to look at something new, in a sea of new things, and say “yes: that one is important.”
But social media management is important, because it’s how we hang out now. It’s how we praise and condemn things. It’s how we tell jokes, gossip, and plan.
Social media management is important because one single person, on their way out of a restaurant, can tell three hundred friends that the restaurant is bad. On some social media platforms that negative comment is heard, then immediately buried. On other platforms it’s locked in place and continues to inform curious strangers about that bad experience.
Social media management is important because you can find out what people are really talking about and what they really think about your business. And you can respond to them.
A good social media manager understands how people use the platforms, and the strengths and weaknesses of each. But the first charactaristics to look for when you’re hiring for the job are the same as when you’re hiring for front-of-house positions: Friendliness. Even temperment. Intelligence. Wisdom. Careful responses.
A social media manager will be talking to all kinds of people, on all kinds of platforms. The words they use to respond will linger around your company name for a long, long time.
So while you can hire your teenaged niece to run your social campaign, it might be better to choose someone with a fantastic record of managing great relationships. Technology can be learned, personality can’t.