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Why Managing Social Media Is Like Managing an Entire Marketing Department

As anyone tasked with managing any aspect of social media can tell you, it has ballooned into a many-headed thing that requires a multidimensional management capabilities, because it contains so many marketing disciplines therein. With this in mind, I offer five ways that managing social media is like managing a whole marketing department.

1. User Experience Is Paramount -- When it comes to social media, the platforms themselves are downright obsessed with user experience. Hence why it changes all the time, which, somewhat ironically, is not a good experience. The difference here is that in managing social media, you've got no say. You're working backward into a pre-determined template in order to provide a great experience. Conversely, your web or e-commerce team is always working to refine the web experience for new and existing users on your site -- but they have all the control.

2. E-Mail is Still a Big Part of the Game -- Even though the lion's share of content is shared through news feeds and groups and streams of all kinds, getting into users' inboxes is still a powerful place to appear. On the social side, we're again locked into a template state. Solutions like InMail or third-party sponsored emails sent via the platform to users have an added element of trust because users are already so involved with the platforms themselves. And that's likely to get you a solid open rate -- or promptly ignored, because it always comes back to great content with value to readers to generate clicks and, more importantly, conversions.

3. Creative Design is Critical -- It's no secret that posts with multimedia of some kind outperform text-only updates. In the same way that your website needs an awesome banner and your newsletter needs a killer masthead, those social posts need great design to draw the user's eye. With as much information flying at anyone using a social platform, images and videos help you to stand out. Designing for (again!) that template and the audience your brand speaks to on that platform is crucial to social success.

4. Every. Word. Matters. -- From both a copy and PR perspective tight language is a must. There are best practices for headlines, messaging and corporate language that has to make their way into a variety of communications. Social is much the same just have to make it shorter -- much, much shorter. Basically, you're communicating in headlines all of the time. There's some additional nuance here in the form of using hashtags appropriately, tagging people and brands in the right context, and properly using acronyms that are understood by your audience -- all for the sake of making it fit in 140 characters.

5. Additional Responsibilities As Assigned -- Have you ever noticed how there's a tendency to assign ideas to marketing because creative people inevitably find a way? Whether it's an app, or an event, or a mobile idea, or you-name-it, somehow these things just seem to wander into the sphere of marketing. So too with social, especially when words like "mobile," "digital" or "engagement" get attached. On some teams, there's probably a clearly defined place for these initiatives to go. But by-and-large, companies aren't fully on track and organized for a digital-first strategy, so these ideas find their way into a grey area. Many times, social is still just the right shade.

I don't make these points to assert that the role of managing social media is as big as managing an entire department. I spend a TON of time collaborating with specialists in all the areas mentioned above. Let's be really honest, great marketing and communications take a village.

But I do believe it's important to illustrate just how multifaceted a good social media practitioner must be in order to make that collaboration effective -- to be a good contributing villager if you will. The most succinct way to put it is probably, "Jack of all trades, master of none, knows where to find the master of everyone." (Wow, two cliches in two paragraphs...And one rhyme! I'm on a roll.)

The strengths of social media management come in a lot of flavors ranging from communications, design, and UI to coding, customer relations, and mobile development. It's really important for companies to know what they are looking to get out of social media in order to make the right hire or build the right team to pursue social media objectives. Actually, let me rephrase that last part: "...or build the right team to pursue social media and digital-first objectives."



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