Social Media Shouldn't Be An Entry-Level Position
Social Media has matured and so has the position of social media manager
-By Jon-Stephen Stansel
If I told you that I had a job where I spoke to thousands of people every day, handled crisis management, customer service, paid advertising, content strategy, and a long list of other duties, you’d assume I was pretty high up in my organization, right? You’d ask my title expecting something high-level and when I said social media manager your perception would change. “Oh, I bet you have a lot of fun! Are you just starting with the company?”
This is a sad fact of life for many social media managers and something the profession needs to overcome. Social media has matured and with it, so has the position of social media manager. However, it is often seen by most organizations as an entry-level position at best.
This is a dangerous and costly misconception. Social media is far too important to a company’s success to be left up to anyone other than an experienced social media professional.
Social Media is the Voice of Your Organization
Social Media is one of the most effective ways to communicate with your audience. More and more of your customers are turning to social media to ask questions of your organization and voice their opinions. They expect a timely and appropriate response. Your social media manager sets the voice and is one of the primary ambassadors of your organization. At a moments notice they have the capability to send a message that could reach millions. Do you really want to trust a job that important with someone whose only experience is having a lot of followers on their personal Instagram account?
Social Media is the Front Line of Crisis Communications
When a crisis hits, your social media manager will likely be the first person to spot it. By engaging in active social listening, they can often prevent a possible crisis or give you an early warning that one is about to occur. They need the authority to respond quickly and appropriately. We’ve all seen the horror stories of brands not handling social media properly in the time of crisis. With the right person, this is preventable. You need someone who has experience and can be trusted to handle a crisis the moment it occurs. This requires a trained professional, not an entry-level employee or an intern. Hire a professional and give them the authority to act when needed.
Social Media Turnover Can be Costly
A social media manager doesn’t just need to know social media marketing. They need to know the ins and outs of your organization as well. Would you hire a social media manger for a baseball team who didn’t know the rules of the sport? A good social media manager should know their organization backwards and forwards and that can take time. They need to know who can answer the hundreds of questions they field every day, who can help them create content, the history of the organization, and a thousand other nuances of the company. This is an investment. Do you really want to train someone to this level only to lose them when a higher paying job comes along?
Social Media Managers Need the Authority to Say No
One of the most important duties of a social media manager is saying no. They are constantly bombarded with requests to post low quality and off-brand content, create new social media accounts, and other items that do not align with the organization’s social media strategy. In order to protect the brand, they must often say no to people in much higher levels. They act as a gatekeeper that can prevent many of the pitfalls associated with social media. A social media manager needs to be empowered to respectfully say no without fear of repercussion. This requires a certain level of authority within the company that does not come with an entry-level position.
Social Media Managers are Jacks of All Trades
Social media is multi-platform. In addition to understanding the nuances of every social network, social media managers must have an understanding of video production, photography, graphic design, be excellent writers, analytics, web design, and many other skills. This is no easy task and takes time and effort to perfect. In addition, a good social media manager is always learning and perfecting their craft. They must stay on top of the latest trends and changes in the field and be ready to adapt. They must be able to recognize what trends are worth their time and which ones are a flash-in-the-pan. You need someone who has had the time and experience to acquire these skills. This requires prior experience that an entry-level employee does not yet have.
While social media marketing is still a relatively new field, it has matured rapidly. Gone are the days of handing off social media management to an entry-level employee or intern. It belongs in the hands of a professional who has devoted the time and effort to become a master in the field. This is what separates companies who excel in this important arena and those who merely get by...or worse.
Note: I realize that many of you reading this are social media managers currently in entry-level positions. Perhaps many of you are fresh out of college, interns, or hope to enter the field soon. This post is in no way intended to disparage your efforts. The goal is to show just how important the role of social media manager is. If you are in an entry-level social media position, my advice to you is this: Don't treat your job like one. Treat your role as social media manager as if it were one of the most important in the organization. It is. Make it your business to know the industry inside and out, ask to be invited to meetings where important communication decisions are made and make your voice heard, host training sessions for other employees and educate them about your role and show them what you do every day. Soon, you'll be able to change the perception of what you do from one of an entry-level grunt to that of a trained and experienced professional with immense value to the company.