She called me the D word. It wasn’t “data-driven”.
You can guess what it was.
She thought I was taking the P word out of her.
I wasn’t. I was just testing.
Here’s the Tweet that got her all worked up.
This is SCOTT. I am a Product Manager. They’ve gone and told me to run the Twitter account for a week. I’ve even got a policy ?
— SiteVisibility (@SiteVisibility) January 18, 2016
I was next in line to manage our Twitter account for a week. Alex, our Digital Content & PR Campaign Manager had sent me a bunch of social media instructions and guidelines.
Back in December, Alex and Sean (Sales and Marketing Coordinator) had been given a small amount of marketing budget and a simple brief. Experiment on social media for 3 months, try to improve engagement and see what else happens. We’ll touch on the topic of measurement and KPIs a little later.
Alex had been given the responsibility of producing our social media policy, benchmarking our existing performance, setting guidelines as well as coordinating all of our efforts. A completely logical place to start.
I have to admit, though, I ignored most of the guidelines that were sent to me.
Why? Hopefully, in this post, I can do some explaining.
Right now, we’re experimenting. It’s time to be kids in a playground.
We’re in the same position that a lot of companies find themselves in. We don’t rely on social media to engage with customers and we don’t rely on social media to generate inbound leads.
Subsequently, our social media accounts have been sat, head in hands on the naughty step. They don’t know what they’ve done wrong. They only know that one minute they were whizzing around sending Snapchats of stupid faces and the next, they’re slumped in a corner, watching the world play tag from afar.
Yup, that was us.
We made that mistake.
But here’s the twist.
We’ve got a new Sales and Marketing Coordinator. His name is Sean. He was saddened to learn of the depressed state of our social engagement.
It was a shameful moment when we collectively acknowledged that we had been socially marooned.
What makes it worse is that, we all knew it was coming. This was no surprise. It was the big, fat, lazy elephant in the room.
Sean had a plan, though. When there’s shared shame, there’s shared opportunity. A few weeks ago, Sean devised a plan with Alex to reignite our social lives through getting everyone in our company to manage our Twitter account for a week at a time.
The goal? To be slapped by the elephant’s trunk. To experiment. To be “it” again.
It was my turn to manage our Twitter account for the week commencing 18th January. Here’s what I learned.
The Things I Learned In My One Week as a Social Media Manager
You have to have self-discipline.
I would consider myself pretty disciplined when it comes to time management. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have my own personal social media accounts.
That all changed during my week managing Twitter.
It’s addictive as hell. I lied on my timesheet about the amount of time I spent on Twitter.
I don’t even really know what got me hooked. Most people are just moaning or being sarcastic. At least in our stream. Sometimes I would just sit back and look at all the content that was being retweeted and all the conversations that were unfolding. Just sat, watching.
I was tempted to join in but, it always felt like I was too late to the table or I just didn’t have anything of real value to share. What does a Social Media Manager do? My attitude towards social media is that you should provoke conversation, provide something of true value, make someone smile or shut the hell up.
I found myself sitting, staring in silence a lot. Perhaps this was the right thing to do. We’ll get to why in just a second.
It’s a jungle out there.
There’s too much content, it’s irritating.
There’s a lot of discussion right now (#RIPTwitter) about Twitter potentially changing the timeline algorithm to return Tweets that are more topically relevant as opposed to chronologically ordered. Most people are not in favour of this rumoured change. However, I think for certain professionals in certain industries (e.g. digital marketers), it would be a really handy option to have. There’s just so much automated content being kicked around that it’s impossible to decide what is going to be useful to click on.
I’d love the option of having two feeds. One chronologically ordered and one skewed towards topical relevance. Please make it happen @Twitter.
I really hate Twitter Moments.
I didn’t find a use for it at all. I find its positioning within the navigation infuriating. I even Tweeted about it. Nobody cared.
I still don’t find myself using Twitter Moments. In fact, I think I dislike it.
— SiteVisibility (@SiteVisibility) January 19, 2016
Preparation is everything.
I had a choice. I could curate, plan and schedule my week’s activity in advance. Or I could just wing it.
I decided to position myself somewhere in the middle. I figured that a combination of half-planning, half-conversational content would work.
I prepared a bunch of ideas, topics and some specific Tweets a week in advance. I had over 50 Tweets written down. I also did a little Followerwonk and Twitter Analytics analysis.
However, there were some crucial elements of my own criteria for social success that I had massively underappreciated and underinvested in. Just a moment ago in this post, I detailed a couple of points which I consider important to social media management. These were to provoke conversation, to provide true value or to make someone smile.
What I hadn’t accounted for was:
- We don’t yet have any real momentum. The legs on our Twitter account have atrophied. It’s still struggling to get up in the morning. Perhaps, we are not yet fit for conversation.
- Did our audience even want a conversation? I hadn’t even researched this. Each industry and subculture is different. I am a social lurker. Perhaps I am not the only one?
- To provide real value, it’s necessary to fully plan in advance.
This is the part I undervalued the most. I thought that I would be able to use Twitter as a curation tool. To find valuable content that I could share or discuss.
But it is just too noisy.
I should have prepared my “valuable” content a week in advance. This was painfully obvious to me after just a day on the job.
Without value-added content, you quickly fall into the trap or retweeting and liking other people’s content in a desperate cry for attention.
Perhaps, this very reason is why there is so much noise. Too much attention seeking, not enough attention earning.
This made it super easy for me to re-tweet stuff that I didn’t even fully read. Like this Tweet, which turned out to be my best-performing piece of content:
— SiteVisibility (@SiteVisibility) January 21, 2016
Perhaps this also proves my point. Maybe our audience isn’t too interested in having a conversation? Maybe they want their content with no-strings-attached? That’s fine. We should research that some more.
I just wanted to be loved.
It felt good to get retweets and likes. This was the most addictive part. It’s exciting.
The hair-tearing question asked of most Social Media Managers over the last decade is, “Can you show me my ROI on social media”.
Yes, I can.
My favourite moment was a short exchange with local search expert Mike Blumenthal:
@SiteVisibility that sounds dangerous
— Mike Blumenthal (@mblumenthal) January 20, 2016
It’s easy to offend.
Alex got all emotional and Sean got all nervy. That was after just an hour or so with me in the job.
From there, I looked down at my list of 50 prepared Tweets and toned it down a little. It made me realise that my content was too focused on provoking conversation and perhaps I needed a little more substance (which, I hadn’t fully planned for).
BUT, at very least, those conversations started happening. This was one of my goals already achieved. Conversation was provoked in the truest social form – actual words spoken between us in the office. This made me happy.
I opted against planned content for #mcm, #wcw and a bunch of Fantasy Football material.
It creates healthy competition.
In our weekly team meeting, Alex reports on Twitter performance from the previous week.
This has created some healthy competition. I can already see people are keeping their eyes on the number of followers, retweets, likes, impressions and engagements they receive.
Everyone’s energy right now is channelled towards growth and engagement. This is more positive than it is negative. Some care a little more than others. This is fine. Those who care, will give and grow.
Social Media is the perfect medium for utilising creative marketing budget.
Let me explain.
Approximately 5% of our marketing budget is assigned to this Twitter activity. Currently, there are no lead generation or ROI targets for this work.
In fact, we did something we typically wouldn’t recommend. We launched directly into Twitter engagement without a robust measurement plan.
Though Alex had invested time in benchmarking historic performance and setting a recommended schedule of activity for the team to follow, this was predominantly a research and learning exercise.
Which brings me to the point of this piece.
I encourage every single professional reading this to allocate a small proportion of your marketing spend to experimental activity detached from all plans and KPIs.
I think this is entirely necessary. You need to do this to learn about your audience, to engage, to see things from a different perspective, to find new opportunities, to experience both shame and love, to become more self-aware and ultimately to encourage a collective, growth mindset.
I appreciate that every business is going to have different sized marketing budgets, skills and resources available. But experimentation is crucial to growth. No matter how small, you need a stream of activity running through your business that is independent of any business goals.
How can you sit and debate share of voice before you even have one?
In sharing responsibility for social engagement, we have created a conversation in our business. Gradually, that conversation is sparking new ideas, improved communication and most importantly, is creating our brand right in front of our eyes.
So, do you really need to hire a Social Media Manager in your business?
I’m gonna go for YES, but not in the traditional sense.
Perhaps the title of “Social Media Manager” is wrong or misleading. You don’t need a Social Media Manager to “manage” your audience. It’s impossible. Please get that out of your head. The audience, conversations and culture in your industry will do just fine managing themselves.
You might not even need a Social Media Manager to generate inbound leads. Perhaps you’re getting those already.
Do you need a Social Media Manager to create engaging conversations? Not Always. Some industries are full of lurkers. If you can tease them out, great. But they mightn’t show their love in the most obvious ways.
However, you definitely need someone (or maybe more than one person) in your business who can coordinate the energy of your team to achieve positive, social curiosity.
Finding these people is crucial in helping you understand your culture or the culture you’ve been ignoring for far too long. In turn, this can help shape the brand and voice you always wanted.
The improved communication, internal competition and resulting creativity will extend far beyond any documentable engagement metrics.
If budget allows, maybe this is just one person’s job. Perhaps you then call this person your manager.
But if you don’t have the budget, that doesn’t mean your social presence can’t be managed. You do not need the word “Manager” in your title in order to provoke discussion, provide value or make someone smile.
Tag, you’re it.