I frequently write about the job searching process, and tips for students and young professionals. Job searching is hard and long (that’s what she said).
But what happens when you get that job? You’re in the door. You’re sitting at your cube (or office). Now it’s time to knock your company’s socks off. Social media jobs are a hot commodity these days, and popping up all over the place. My position as social business specialist is the first of its kind at my agency. So there has been quite a lot of navigating, and quite a big learning curve (for my company AND me). I can’t really have a social-specific mentor with 10 years in the field, because no social media pro has been around that long. We’re all figuring it out. But since I’ve been doing the social thing for a few years now (in PR roles prior, now primarily social), here is some advice I have learned along the way that I can pass along. Disclosure: My career has been in the agency world, so it’s all I know. But, agency people like myself are versatile for any organization, so this can apply to more than agency pros.
Tip #1: Carve out time each day to read, learn, tweet, skim, and take it all in
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I don’t have time for social media.” I get it. It takes time. And some days, I can barely come up for air juggling six projects at once, let alone crawl the internet for tweet-worthy content. But each day, I am out there. I don’t go one day without going on social media (except of course a lot of weekends…girlfriend needs a break). Granted, I get PAID to peruse social media, but my job is not to tweet, necessarily. I am in meetings, strategy sessions, building out social plans and calendars, managing social monitoring and reporting as well as overall social projects, and keeping my clients happy. But I carve that time out each day to learn. Almost every day I find an important tweet that helps me in some way. Perhaps I bookmark it for later, or use it in a Powerpoint presentation, or email my team or client, or actually apply it right then and there to work. If you keep up with the right network, it’s worth it. So maybe you spend your first half hour in the office in social. Or, you wake up and grab your coffee, and scroll your Facebook news feed, RSS reader, Twitter and LinkedIn news on your cell. Not to mention, the internet = free resources.
Tip #2: Share, share, share
Being a social media manager (and the like), you are constantly getting asked social questions. I recently tweeted a tip that helps me tremendously. Every time you reply to a social question via email, cc or bcc yourself. Then, create an “FAQ” folder in your email, and move those emails there. Next time you’re asked that question, you can copy/paste. BOOM.
But that’s the reactive sharing…what about proactive? People love to be in the know. So, when I get a really good piece of information (i.e. Facebook changed some setting/layout/policy for the 14309549058 time), I send it out to either my team or entire agency. I am getting in the habit of sending something out agency-wide at least once a month. I also signed up for a series of webinars by Facebook Marketing that I shared with other disciplines in the social space at work, and I plan on setting up a room for them that we can all gather and learn together, rather than at our desks. Double learning, FTW! And be quick — social moves so fast that you need to be ahead. I hate reading something that I saw on Twitter five days ago. So, share it. Just don’t over-share. No one likes constant emails with just links to articles that most likely aren’t moving your business forward.
Tip #3: Learn the overall marketing and/or PR objectives of your business
This one may seem like a no-brainer to some, but social needs a strategy behind it. Many people get on a certain network for the sake of being on it, and don’t stop to think about strategy. This has been a frequent conversation lately at work, and it’s something so important. But first — what’s the overall marketing strategy? Most likely, there’s a business plan for this fiscal year. Get a copy of it. Learn what it is. And for the next plan, be a part of those meetings. Then take that plan, and apply it to social. Maybe garnering Facebook likes is your goal. Or maybe it’s activating your fans. It would be so nice to directly correlate sales to social, but if you can’t do that exactly, set something that you can measure. Or use the insights you gather from social for your brand’s overall operations. You could make some changes internally that will resonate with fans externally.
Tip #4: Make some contacts
We all would love to have a Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and/or YouTube contact. Someone you can shoot an email off to and get an answer straight from the horse’s mouth. Unfortunately, when you’re using a free service, these people are hard to come by. So there’s two options here. 1) Spend money on advertising. Sad but true. You throw dollar signs at Facebook, and they will be more likely to talk to you. I don’t blame them. That’s how they are so profitable. But not everyone necessarily WANTS to advertise on Facebook (or other social networks). Or, not everyone has the budget to do so. We all want to be on the Facebook “client council,” but we all can’t be. So that brings me to our second option: 2) Make contacts the old fashioned way: organically via social. Do some Google searches, and you can find employees of Google, Facebook, Twitter and the like all on social media. You can add them on Google+, subscribe to their public Facebook updates, and follow them on Twitter. Once you find and add them, please, don’t be creepy! Or annoying. Don’t respond or like every.single.post they make. Or don’t send them annoying @replies or DMs. Get to know them first. Engage in casual conversation. Find common interests. Let them talk to you. Then you can politely inquire if they wouldn’t mind you emailing them about a question you have. It’s like a good PR pro making a connection with a journalist. Be patient, do it naturally, then you’ll have your contact.
Bonus tip: This tactic works well to find other social media managers on social. I follow lots of them on Twitter, and find it interesting what they’re tweeting about, and what their brand is doing to move the social needle. I just add them to my ongoing Twitter list.
Tip#5: Make friends with other disciplines
I have a whole crew of developers and designers I work with. And they are super smart. They make stuff actually WORK. It’s been a definite learning curve moving from PR to interactive, and there have been a lot of times where my coworkers shake their heads when I ask them a simple question. Or they tell me about a wonderful tool named Google. Har har. But I work with them so they make things like a simple Facebook tab simply awesome. Or there’s the broadcast team, who is teaching me all about what types of video files we have and which are approved for internet use. And then how to properly upload them online. Who knew so much went into it? I’ve been taking the time to listen and learn from these people. Because all my great ideas cannot happen if I don’t have the brains of these people behind me.
Tip#6: Try it, then try again
I could go on and on about social and all the tips I’ve learned along the way. But if I give out anymore free advice, you’re gonna have to pay me ;). But my last tip might be my most important: try. I like to bring all kinds of ideas to the table in social. There is no right or wrong answer in the space. There’s lots of good and bad, but this is your room to try. And here you have to educate your bosses, coworkers and clients. They aren’t going to give you money to do something they are unsure of, so continue to seek out case studies and statistics, blog posts and other brand examples, so you have examples to back you up. Try new things. Look at what other brands are doing and put your own spin on it. You’re never going to get anywhere unless you keep trying.