Rundown of a day in the life of a Social Media Manager. Ready?
6:00am Wakeup, check today’s schedule & to-do list
6:30am Cycle class
7:30am Shower, eat breakfast & catch up on industry & local news
8:00am Catch bus to work, respond to tweets & important emails
8:30am Start writing before office gets too noisy with a hot cuppa coffee
9:30am Check all social media channels, @reply & engage, schedule a few updates for tomorrow
10:30am Meet with a social media vendor to help with customer service
11:15am Implement copyedits for whitepaper and landing page on new tech partnership
11:45am Read blog posts for any social media platform updates, algorithm changes, and new product offerings
12:00pm Interview a product engineer for upcoming blog series
12:30pm Grab lunch from food truck downstairs. Check email, Facebook, Twitter, Quora & other forums
1:00pm Get head start on monthly metrics report
2:00pm Integrated Marketing Team Meeting about upcoming product launch
3:15pm Create & schedule posts for the week, scan the news, jot down ideas for future blogs
4:30pm Check email, Facebook, Twitter, Quora & other forums one last time
4:50pm Check conference room specs for tomorrow’s launch run-thru w/ Integrated Marketing & product engineering teams
5:15pm Run on a treadmill with a friend at nearby gym
5:45pm Call with Tokyo team (it’s 9:45am there) while eating dinner
7:00pm Forgot that a friend’s coming over. Share half a bottle of wine
8:30pm Say farewell. Check tomorrow’s schedule. Set alarm
9:00pm Shower and turn phone off. Read one chapter from new Marketing Psychology book
10:00pm Sleep and repeat.
This job also requires loads of time in front of a computer screen, being strategic, switching back and forth among channels, creative writing and content creation, data analysis, and perfect communication skills. This doesn’t even include extraordinary moments such as preparation for a launch, support for a live-event, or crisis management.
There are B2B social media managers whose job it is to turn complex ideas and technologies into palatable bits to the regular Janes and Joes. The Herculean effort – which takes an enormous amount of thinking and creativity – leaves them mentally drained.
Social media managers who work for consumer-facing companies (think entertainment, hospitality or beauty) can naturally integrate work with their personal lives. It may seem glamorous, but is that non-separation of work from play a healthy choice? Can they ever take a day off?
Some are lucky to have a PR agency with social media capabilities to assist them. But others, especially those in smaller businesses, don’t have that luxury. It’s usually a team of one.
Social media managers are the gatekeepers of a company’s reputation, the first line of defense with customer service, a crucial part of customer acquisition strategies, the daily provider of entertainment for fans and followers, and the lookout for trending topics or breaking news that could take precedence over their well-intended updates and posts (while also remaining mindful and respectful of unforeseen tragic events).
Yet their jobs are under constant scrutiny within the company walls.
“How’s a tweet going to get us new customers?”
“Why do we need to be on Facebook?”
“Who needs LinkedIn to do sales when I can pick up the phone?”
Because of these remarks, they start questioning their self-worth and, often times, will overwork themselves to prove everyone wrong.
These problems are compounded when public relations or content writing teams ask for their assistance. That means coming up with tweet-able nuggets for whitepapers, creating video content behind-the-scenes at a TV interview, creating Facebook or LinkedIn ads to boost reach of an article that mentions the client, proactively answering questions in Quora or other forums leading up to a new product launch, or live-streaming interviews with company partners and customers at a convention or conference.
How do I know? I was one of them for almost a decade.
After three years as a social media manager:
Getting up in the morning was painful. Crying sessions were a weekly scenario. Complaining to loved ones was a daily ritual.
I burned out. Fast.
Jay Baer of Convince and Convert, a well-known blogger, author and consultant, wrote a blog post in 2015 about how social media jobs may be about to disappear because they’ll be integrated into all parts of a company. While others, like Arik Hanson, predicted a mass exodus of early adopter social media marketers due to burnout.
This was around the same time I started making plans to leave the industry. So I applied to grad school, pursued a Masters degree in conservation science, and didn’t dare to look back.
But here I am a few years later, still wanting to help communicate a company’s mission and purpose through social media and content creation.
This type of work is here to stay.
In fact, CNNMoney voted Social Media Manager as 42nd Best Job in America, with a 9% ten-year growth and salaries as high as $90,000 per year. However, the low ratings for quality of life are heartbreaking: Personal satisfaction (C-grade) and Benefit to Society (C-grade).
There’s a still lot of work to be done.
More importantly, ask other social media managers how they handle or automate specific aspects of their jobs. They love sharing what works and doesn’t work for them.
So while tip #1 worked for me, listen to Ron Friedman, PhD, an award-winning psychologist. He recommends scheduling to your strengths: identify the hours you do your best work and use it for high-priority projects, making decisions you’ve been avoiding, or initiating a difficult conversation. Discourage colleagues from scheduling meetings at that time (if you can help it). “Take those fluctuations of energy into account and plan some of the less taxing work, the work that requires less will power, less concentration [and] focus on doing those types of tasks at 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon,” Friedman says.
For those who want to leave social media entirely, it’s time to go broader to corporate or internal communications, digital marketing, and even event production. I know of many who’ve left the communications world entirely.
Then, quietly, start arranging coffee talks or informational interviews with your most desired companies to understand what other skills they seek.
They’re the heart and soul of any organization, and it would be unwise to keep them unhappy and unhealthy. Here are some ideas for HR leaders and team leaders to consider:
It’s time that we take a closer look at how social media managers are handling their work and if there are ways we can better support them. The world would be an awfully boring place without our social media superstars, so let’s take good care of them!