How to Run Social Media Like a Boss

One thing I’ve learned is that social media is unpredictable, enigmatic, and extremely powerful. What makes a person click on something? Why do you stop at one tweet to read it but scroll through others? How can you be witty and concise and natural all at the same time? WHY DOES THAT PERSON HAVE SO MANY FOLLOWERS? I try to stay on top of my Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, but somedays I feel like I’m doing it entirely wrong. 

My friend Catherine tweets for a living (literally), so I asked her to share her wisdom. I thought you guys might like to see, too — she’s got some great advice. And feel free to ask questions!

Somehow, while you were sleeping, or interacting with the physical world, or maybe even on Facebook, social media has taken over the world as we know it. Maybe I was just naive. I was never the biggest fan of social media — it kind of gave me the heebie jeebies. That is, until this year. This year I, without fully intending to, began working as the Community Manager of a food website.

My title is basically a fancy way of saying “social media manager,” though I also get to have a hand in a few other pies (both literally and figuratively)? I had to go from 0 to 6,000 on the social media circuit, and, to be honest, it was overwhelming. And frightening. Not only did I discover how many social media channels are actually out there, but I realized how big of a part social media played in the professional world — and it’s only going to grow.

Everyday, I’ll tweet about 50 times and post about 10 times to Facebook. I like and respond to our community’s comments, and sift through other relevant food sites. I have interns who post our content to Tumblr and Pinterest, but I usually check in a few times a day to make sure all is running smoothly. I also post to Instagram 4-5 times a day, both our content and other’s. I’m constantly switching back and forth between different social channels, different users, and my inbox. I take meetings with other team members to discuss how social is working in the greater context of the site, and I take editorial meetings to give my two-cents about our content.

In some ways my job is an ADD person’s dream – in other ways, it’s their nightmare. Because even though I get to jump from place to place and from tweet to tweet like a hyperactive 6-year-old, everything I say goes out on the internet. For all our followers to see. And since no one edits every single tweet I send out, if I make a mistake, it’s a mistake hundreds of thousands of people see. And even if I delete it, the internet never forgets.

liam-walsh-look-at-the-picture-i-took-of-the-thing-we-re-looking-at-new-yorker-cartoon

If you’re looking to get into the world of social media work, here are a few good places to start:

Start honing your social skills. Get familiar with which types of language and angles does better in tweets, on Facebook, on Instagram, etc. A truly effective social media post strikes a delicate balance: You have to make clear what the post you’re promoting is about, while keeping enough secret so that the person actually wants to click through. For example, instead of tweeting something like “Next time you make peach pie, add cinnamon for a spicy kick,” go with something like “Add an unexpected kick to your peach pie – all you have to do is reach in your spice drawer.” Then people understand you’re talking about how to spice up peach pie, but they don’t know exactly how, so they’ll probably click through. Social media is one part psychology, one part wit, and one part being very, very concise.

Take a long, hard look at your favorite brands, organizations, and websites’ social media presences. Note what you think they do well. Note what you think they do not-so-well. In the end  everyone is trying to appeal to you, the consumer, so you’re at the best place to make judgments when you know nothing at all.

Become more active on all social channels. That means Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. If you have a blog, start promoting your posts.

Do research on new and soon-to-arrive social media platforms, and which types of organizations they would most suit.

Start building relationships on social. No, this is not referring to online dating. If there are certain brands you love, tweet at them with a question — if they have a good handle on their social channels, they’ll usually tweet you back. Start liking and commenting on your favorite companies and VIP’s on Facebook and Instagram. Become a power user, and your follower count will grow in the process. Social media is all about sharing the love.

Get some professional social experience. Even if you’re just volunteering to do some free Facebook promotion for your uncle’s hardware shop, get some legitimate, not-personal social media experience on your resume. This goes a long way. Unpaid internships are also a great place to start — if one of your favorite brands doesn’t have an official social intern position, email and ask if you can be the first; chances are they’ll say yes. Especially since it’s a position that can be done remotely.

So start practicing putting your thoughts into 140 characters now — it’s the way of the future.

Thank you, Catherine, for your wise input! 

Images: Joan & Peggy, Walsh cartoon

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