10 Questions NOT To Ask A Social Media Manager
I don't know about you, but I love a good 'here's how NOT to talk to me' post. Rules are my love language. That's why when I saw my friend's post, 13 Questions NOT to Ask a Travel Writer, I gasped. Can you tell people not to ask you things? Turns out, yes, yes you can. I immediately emailed her and asked, "Can I 100% copy your blog post?" She said no. J/K! She said yes, duh, and then she agreed to be a contributor.
Obvious disclaimer: I am mad at no one. I am a light-filled being radiating love for all (wo)man and animal kind. That being said, quit asking me these questions. *sunglasses emoji*
People pay that much for social media?!
Me: I've been asked this so much I've thought about printing a response on a business card that I can hand people and moonwalk away. If you reach out to someone for a meeting, do a quick Google and have at least a ballpark idea of what professional social media costs. If your budget is below $500/mo, say that up front. Also, if you're a business with multiple locations (mazel tov!), that's going to cost you more because of the logistics of having to go to more than one place to capture content. *moonwalks away*
Kristin Luna: I guarantee you they pay even more for advertising and PR! Social media is an extension of your marketing and one could argue the most important public-facing component of your brand. If you want some unpaid college intern representing you to the masses, then by all means, get down with your bad self—but if you want to get ahead and get noticed, it would behoove you to hire an actual professional. I often tell clients who claim they don't have the budget for social media or content to reallocate those funds. Why are you still paying for a YellowPages listing? Are those banner ads and billboards really driving traffic to your business or attention to your brand? You need to reevaluate your ROI on some of your heftier expenses, and once you do, I guarantee you that paying for social media will suddenly seem worth it.
Nicole Childrey: I get it — there’s this thing you’ve been doing for fun, for years, and it’s hard to tweak your image of it, from a pit of frivolous cat pics to a powerful, important and complex marketing medium. The truth is, social media is both, and it all depends on how you use it. If you hire a social media manager, you’re paying for an understanding of how to leverage these platforms, and you’re asking them to be your voice, an extension of you and your brand. You don’t (and shouldn’t) take that lightly, and as with anything, you get what you pay for.
Hannah Schneider: Social media has become an integral part of any successful marketing strategy. If you don’t want your business to fall off, YES!
Charlotte Weatherington: You’re going to get what you pay for when it comes to social media. People are turning to social media to learn about brands. Research shows that 71% of people who have a positive service experience with a brand via social media are likely to recommend that company. And, a survey conducted by Market Force and reported on by Forbes showed that 78% of respondents said the posts by companies they follow on social media impact their purchases. Social media is a worthwhile investment for just about any brand.
Sabrina Torres: They do- and it’s a great investment in their business! Did you know that 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others? And that 74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions? With statistics like that, businesses can’t afford to ignore social media.
My daughter is home from college, can I just have her do my social media? She loves Facebook!
Me: I feel triggered just reading that. Here's what I'll say, 90% of the people who've hired me, hired me to replace a family member who was doing it for free. There's a misconception that social media = youth; that you should throw a couple hundred bucks at a 25-year old and be done with it. If you've done that, you know it doesn't work. Guess what does work? Hiring a 42-year old woman with a strong work ethic and a penchant for color-coded spreadsheets.
Kristin: This is second only to, "My kid is good at writing and Tweeting, she could easily do your job!" in terms of annoyance. First of all, most of us who actually have sustainable careers in this industry have survived this long because we have corporate backgrounds in some mash-up of media, marketing and advertising. We didn't simply one day say, "Being on Facebook all day is fun, I think I'll make a business out of this!" I've found that many millennials I've tried to hire are social media consumers, not marketers, and then quickly flounder when they try to get into such a gig, so I'd tell you to suggest to your daughter that she enroll in some business and marketing courses while still in college and learn how to rise above the others in her class who simply use social media for fun.
Nicole: If your daughter is studying marketing or journalism in school and she wants to use your brand as a learning experience, and you’re comfortable guiding her and absorbing any mistakes she might make, that sounds like fun summer togetherness. But more often than not, asking this sounds like — and probably has similar results to — “My teenager loves to draw, what if I just hand her a tattoo gun and have her ink my face?” Your brand’s social platforms are, in a lot of cases, the way customers/the world are introduced to and interact with your brand, and a steady, experienced hand goes a long way toward crafting the image you want to portray.
Hannah: Familiarity and business strategy are very different. Does your daughter know how to launch a successful media campaign? Does she understand how to read and adjust based on your analytics? I actually think because everyone is on social media, finding a true professional is harder than ever - everyone THINKS they can do it. It’s really not the case.
Tabitha: I get why people ask this, especially small businesses - it costs money to hire someone to handle marketing and social media, and it’s always tempting to have someone do it for free. However free is not always good and in this case, it definitely isn’t UNLESS: your daughter is studying marketing or communications and understands what you use social media for. Loving something doesn’t qualify you for a job. If it did I’d be in the cast of Hamilton by now!
Charlotte: First off, please remember that social media is not limited to Facebook. There’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc., all built for varying types of content and varying audiences. Secondly, being a casual -- or even avid -- Facebook user, is very different from being the voice of a brand on the platform. As the online voice of the brand, you have to make the switch from being a consumer to a creator. It’s a far cry from the mindless scrolling that the majority of users are accustomed to doing.
Sabrina: You could, but it won’t help your business much. Knowing how to use social media as a social tool and knowing how to use it as a marketing tool are two different things! A social media marketer is going to bring strategy and skill to your social media presence, which will give your business results, not just posts.
Can I take you to coffee and pick your brain?
Me: Ugh, I'm terrible at this because I'm a recovering codependent with limited use of boundaries. If we are actual friends, I will probably say yes and then resent you for not slipping a Ben Franklin in my pocket when we hug goodbye. I charge $200/hr for consulting. If you can't swing that, do what you can, but do more than an iced coffee. *sips, moonwalks away*
Nicole: My understanding of how this stuff works is, in a lot of ways, my product and my value. It’s how I make my living. So, genuinely, this is like going to a jewelry designer you found online and asking, “Can I take you to coffee so you can give me one of the necklaces you made?”
Hannah: To be totally honest, I know this bugs a lot of people, I am not one of them. If I can provide value to someone, I am happy to. The more knowledge I share, the more I become a trusted source in my field. I play the long game and you never know when someone you helped a few years ago will need a professional to hire.
Tabitha: If not for the kindness of people who shared their wisdom with me I may not have been as confident moving forward on several key steps in starting (and keeping up with) my business. But unless someone I already know connects me to that person or I already know them well, I would never assume someone was going to let me “pick their brain.” Also that’s such a weird thing to say - just get straight to the point and tell me what you want.
Sabrina: Yes. Here’s my invoice for the hour.
Can you get me in [fill in the blank] publication?
Kristin: As someone who has worked in magazines for 15 years (Southern Living, Real Simple, Travel + Leisure, Glamour, the list goes on), let me tell you: It's downright difficult to get an idea into a publication when you're on staff let alone when you're a new brand trying to get press. Those who haven't worked in print often don't realize the concept of lead time—some magazines plan out their editorial calendars up to two years in advance!—not to mention the fact that page space is diminishing, staffs are shrinking and many magazines operate (unofficially) on a pay-to-play model. You'd be wise to ditch prioritizing getting print placement and focus more on attracting new business through your social media presence. That social media manager fee isn't sounding so bad now, is it?
Nicole: This is a question for a publicist, and the answer will always be “Maybe” (at least if they’re being honest). Like social media, publicity is about meticulously crafting your story to grab people’s attention, and even with experts doing the crafting, there are no guarantees. A pro who’s great at his or her job will make it more likely though, and you should expect to pay at least a few grand a month for a publicity campaign with a great publicist. (An also-non-guaranteed benefit of well-crafted social media visibility, though, is that grabbing the attention of writers and publications you love is definitely more likely than it would be without.)
Hannah: Do you have a great story to tell? Do your products or service speak for themselves?
Sabrina: Sorry, but I’m not a publicist!
What’s it take, about 2-4 hours a week to do your job?
Me: *screams into the void*
Hannah: This is probably THE most frustrating. Social media never sleeps, truly NEVER. Someone can write a review at 2am, someone can DM a question an hour before their reservation time. As social media managers, it’s our jobs to respond quickly, post consistently and engage daily, so we really can never take a day off.
Charlotte: The average person spends 2 hours a day on social media, which equals about 5 years and four months of their lifetime -- more time than eating, drinking, grooming, or socializing. The average teenager spends 9 hours a day on social media. Combine that with Pew Research statistics, which indicate that 74% of Facebook users say they visit the site daily, with around half (51%) saying they do several times a day. Think about those staggering numbers in the context of the one billion active users on Facebook alone, and how social media managers have to consistently produce quality content that will grab their attention amongst all the other chatter, while also interacting with both current and potential audiences as they build a community around the brand. And, according to research by Jay Baer: “Respondents who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours.” Saying social media management is a full-time job is an understatement.
Sabrina: It takes 2-4 years of constant education in the midst of an ever changing and shifting social media landscape to do my job! Don’t mistake the time I spend creating, scheduling posts, and replying as the only time spent on your accounts, either. There is market research, data analyzing, and continued education that is necessary to do my job well. All of that is what makes what I do look easy!
Lauren Wells: Unfortunately, our jobs are meant to look beautiful and easy, so it is hard to understand the amount of time that goes into each project. In this role, you are always working - to me, it is the best job ever, and I am so grateful for very opportunity. But it is still very much a real job, with emails, phone calls, meetings, invoices, contracts, proposals, travel, shooting, editing, prep, follow ups, etc. I have never worked so many hours, nor felt so much gratification from the work. So while to me, it is the best job ever, it is still very much a job!
Writing Facebook posts is a real job?
Hannah: As real as it gets! Try writing content about a menu that doesn’t change. Try sticking out in a saturated market. It takes skill, trial and error and a SHIT TON of time to come up with consistently engaging and entertaining content for a brand.
Tabitha: Writing Facebook posts is not a real job. Coming up with a marketing plan to meet a specific business goal for and then using Facebook posts as one aspect of that plan is a real job.
Sabrina: It is and it’s THE BEST! While there is so much more to the job than writing posts (and so much more that goes into writing a great post than most people realize), I have to admit- what I do is pretty cool and I’m lucky to do it!
Do you know Sundays at 4am are the best time to post?
Me: I pay my bills through this job. Bills that include a mortgage, student loan, car payment, and dementia medicine for my 100-year old dog. If you don't pay your bills through social media, don't forward me that article.
Kristin: Didn't you hire me to direct your strategy? *face palm* There's nothing more frustrating than a know-it-all client who, out the gate, claims to know nothing about social media, yet then wants to tell me how to do my job. Stay in your lane!
Nicole: The thing about quick pro-tip snippets you might come across online is, what’s best for your channels and your brand is always so much deeper and more complex. It’s our job to keep on top of studies that dig into optimum posting times for different platforms, and to study data from your specific channels, consider the ideal people you’re trying to reach, and test and tweak and find what’s right for you, specifically. Nothing in social media is one-size-fits-all. And with a good social media manager, you’re getting bespoke attention.
Hannah: Every brand is different, and this is constantly changing. There is no “post at this time” for success. If it was that easy, don’t you think everyone would be posting at 4am and have 100,000 followers? Come on people! Part of our job is to assess this and adjust accordingly.
Sabrina: Please please please try not to get caught up in what the latest article or expert says! I promise to be the expert on YOUR audience, and what times and posts they best respond to.
After you schedule posts, what do you do all week?
Me: I get asked a milder version of this because it's obvious from my Instagram feed I don't work a traditional 9-to-5 schedule. And that's fair. Two things: 1) I work at night and on weekends, so if I'm goofing off at 2pm it's because it's Tuesday and I've already worked a 40-hr week, and 2) my creativity gets fatigued, so I have to find a way to recharge, which is usually thrifting, going to see my friends, or exercising.
Hannah: Engagement, engagement, engagement. Posting is one tiny aspect of what we do. We work with hotels and restaurants, so because we have an actual location, we are constantly checking on tags, check-ins etc. to make sure we don’t miss a thing. This is manual work, we don’t use any automated bots because we want our client experience to be authentic.
Charlotte: It is essential to track how your audiences are receiving and interacting with current posts and campaigns. Is there negative feedback? Figure out why and either provide information to correct misconceptions or determine how to make amends. Positive feedback? Thank them. They took the time to comment, show them you appreciate it by interacting with them. Ignoring you completely? Determine what about the content is not grabbing their attention and reevaluate. Basically, scheduling posts is just the beginning of the cycle. Don’t forget that brainstorming, producing and posting quality digital content requires time, attention to detail and staying ahead of the game, because you have to balance the production process with people’s short attention spans and the rapidness with which trending topics change.
Sabrina: Market research, engaging with your audience, influencer outreach, data analytics, and so much more! All the things that make those posts work.
Have you heard of this guy, Gary Vaynerchuk (aka Gary Vee)?
Me: I typically get asked this by business owners managing their own social media, but man, if you're running your own business, staying current on Gary Vee's 1 million posts a day, AND managing your business' social media, you probably have a less than ideal quality of life, and I would loooooove to help you with that. Oh, I'm sorry, did you think this blog post was anything but a direct sales pitch? *winks at camera*
Hannah: He is literally my religion. I’m not kidding, I have every book and listen to his podcast. I realize he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but his kindness and empathy speaks volumes. GET ON THE BANDWAGON!
Sabrina: The answer is yes. The answer is always yes. Actually… if you did meet a social media marketer who said no to this question, you should run the other direction, as quickly as possible.
Is it fun to get paid to be on Instagram all day?
Me: It is, but I don't appreciate your tone, Barbara.
Hannah: HA! It is time consuming and hard work. My sister once got mad at me because I couldn’t attend something due to my work schedule. She texted me saying, “Oh, are you too busy playing on Facebook?” That was seriously our biggest fight ever!! People have zero clue how much time, creativity and deep understanding of the market it takes to be a successful social media manager. Luckily, I will say I love what I do. I am so humbled I get to help small business every single day and that they trust I can relay their message and brand missions on their behalf. But come on, is doing any job ALL day to be considered fun?
Tabitha: It’s fun because I love what I do so I won’t lie, getting paid to do it is nice. But no one is paying me to post for myself, people pay me be on Instagram for them because I am good at what I do.
Charlotte: It’s definitely hard work, but I think when approached with excitement, enthusiasm, innovation and passion for the brand you’re representing, it’s a blast.
Sabrina: While my job is a lot of fun, there’s a lot more than just scrolling through Instagram going on. I actually miss the days when I could just scroll through Instagram for fun. Regardless, this is a huge simplification and misunderstanding of what it is to be a social media manager… so only ask this question if you want to be bored by my actual explanation of everything that I do!
Kim, here. Hi. I believe in pulling women up with you as you climb, so when you get to the top, you're not the only woman in the room. That being said, A) think about hiring someone to help you with your social media, be that a one-time consultation or ongoing account management, and B) hire one of us. Meet the contributors to this post!
Me! - The Blonde Mule Media
Kristin Luna - Camels & Chocolate
Nicole Childrey - Nicole Childrey Media
Hannah Schneider - Hannah Schneider Creative
Tabitha Tune - A la Mode Media
Charlotte Weatherington - Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee
Sabrina Torres - Be Truly Social
Lauren Wells - firstname.lastname@example.org
Fellow social media managers, what have I left off? Any burning questions you'd like to never be asked again? Creatives in other fields, what questions should we not ask you?