I’m a marketing manager — that means I love and have expertise in marketing, but rarely get to actually do it myself.
But last month, my social media manager moved into a new role, leaving the duty of running all of our social accounts unclaimed. In the meantime, many of the duties have been distributed across the rest of the team, including me. It’s been difficult and enlightening and fun all at the same time. It’s made me think that every marketing manager should run social media at some point. Here’s why.
1. You get to dust off those marketing skills.
I was certainly rusty when I got back into the social game — a lot had changed since the last time I had been managing social accounts directly. The volume of mentions we get, the volume of posts we publish, even the software we use (it’s HubSpot, but it’s improved so much since I last really used it). It was a little rough getting going, but soon I was rocking and rolling. It felt good to flex those marketing muscles again and show myself I can still do it if I need to.
So many marketing managers get disconnected from the real tactics of executing marketing, and some managers have never done the specific duties of the people that work for them. Getting your hands dirty with the execution of marketing tactics reminds you, as a manager, what it’s really like to do that job, keeps those muscles warm in case you need to use them again, and allows you to find opportunities for improvement.
2. You’ll learn from direct interactions with current and potential customers.
It is critical to interact directly with customers — current and potential — and social media is a great avenue to do so. While the rest of my team has taken on the bulk of monitoring and moderating our social accounts, I’ve been poking my head in to see some of the mentions, questions, and comments we get.
It’s been incredibly valuable to see with my own eyes how people react to our company and our content. There’s a different level of understanding you get when you take part in those conversations versus hearing about them in summary afterward. It may be time-consuming (and sometimes painful — social media marketing requires thick skin), but it is also incredibly valuable to have those direct interactions. A better understanding of your personas — based on people’s questions and reactions to content — and your content can help drive future decisions around campaigns and higher-level strategy.
3. You’ll consume content. A lot of it.
In taking over the social publishing side of things, I needed to get back into the content world. I’ll admit that when Google Reader died, I didn’t look for a replacement. I hadn’t been using it for months because reading all that content had dropped lower and lower in priority on my to-do list. I’ve wanted to reestablish my content consumption — of both our own content and content across the industry — for a while now, but it wasn’t until now that I got the right push. The amount of content I’ve consumed in the last 24 hours is probably more than I have in the whole month before that.
Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of great content out there, and it’s great to be diving back into the industry in this way. At our company, we teach the importance of talking directly with customers to better understand our personas, but almost equally important is hearing directly from other folks in the industry to see what people are talking about and what content people are consuming. Social media management can force you to do that.
4. You’ll appreciate what your team does.
I always knew my social media manager was incredibly hard-working, but I never truly understood the extent of the massive social media presence she had built until I had to take it on myself. I’ve felt that same appreciation for my team in other cases when I’ve gotten my hands dirty doing the tactical execution of some marketing efforts. While I used to do a lot of those pieces, I spend most of my time these days in meetings or doing analysis and planning, so it’s easy to get disconnected from the day-to-day of the critical tasks the team executes so seamlessly.
Every marketing manager should have a solid understanding and appreciation for what each member of their team does. With this, you can better set priorities, evaluate performance, and reward employees appropriately. The last thing you want is to have some employees get burnt out from too much to do at once while other employees are left idly waiting for more work to land on their plates.
5. You’ll see the full picture of the company.
Your company’s social media manager is likely the most knowledgeable person in the company. They need to know everything and everyone, across marketing, sales, services, and product. After all, you will get questions on social media ranging from product support issues to user group event inquiries to questions about recently promoted ebooks. Social media can thus live in many different departments — PR, demand generation, customer support, just to name a few common options. Depending on that department, the social media manager’s manager will likely be focused on that department’s goal with that department’s perspective.
Running social media for a day forces that manager to broaden their perspective, see the variety of discussions among fans and followers and the variety of content to share from various stakeholders across the company. Social media management requires a full picture of the company and all of its initiatives, despite the department it lives in.
6. You’ll find opportunities to improve.
As a manager, you spend your days thinking about the high-level strategy and direction of the team and can lean on your team to share their learnings and takeaways from executing every day. But each person brings a different perspective, and your perspective — marrying your knowledge and experience with the tactics themselves — can yield unique ideas. You may find opportunities to invest more in an area that had previously been ignored, or you may find that your team is spending too much time executing on something that isn’t critical.
Actually doing someone’s job for a day unearths those opportunities, especially in cases where a more radical change is required than what your team may feel comfortable suggesting. From taking on social media tasks, I now have a backlog of ideas for our new social media manager when s/he takes the role.
7. You can relish in the variety.
To put it simply: Social media is fun. It is one of the most diverse roles on the team — it involves content creation/adaptation as well as analysis and data-driven decision-making. There’s also a wonderful mix of tactical execution and strategy in every little action. A simple tweet involves a strategic decision as well as literally pressing the publish button in whatever social media tool you’re using.
Also, social media moves so fast that you always have more opportunities to test different platforms, content, formats, and/or timing. You get to put more tests out there, iterate, and learn faster. People management certainly brings its own variety, but not the same sort of immediate gratification and variety. Diving into social media is a nice break and an opportunity to do something a little different for a day.
For all the marketing managers out there, try walking in the shoes of your team for a day to experience these benefits and perhaps others too! For all the social media managers out there, try inviting your manager to take on your role for a day. Or perhaps invite your CEO or VP Sales to do so — you both could learn and have some fun with it.