Social media is something that most businesses know they want to be involved with but many do not have an idea how to do it right. An effective social media presence goes way beyond sending a few tweets and having a Facebook page. Managing a company’s social media strategy is a full-time job and requires a well thought out and executed strategy. Companies that have figured this out are hiring social media strategists for just this reason. If you are considering going this direction with your own company, or if you are an aspiring social media strategist, these are the roles and responsibilities that are core to the position.
The social media strategist should, of course, be responsible for ensuring that a company has accounts with all social networks that their target audience is using, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They should also be accountable for making sure all of these accounts are receiving regular and up-to-date content. This content of any social media strategy needs to be original and of a high quality that will stand out to users of the platform. There are many tools that allow for the social media manager to compile and schedule posts if necessary, but updates should also be spontaneous enough to not give of the impression of being contrived.
Active management is essential when running social media campaigns. While the overall strategy for updating and content creation should be followed, social media is meant to be a way for the brand to interact with their customers and potential customers. The social media strategist needs to be monitoring user reactions to the things that they post and use this information to tailor future content as well as pass data along within the company when it can affect other decisions and strategies. The social media strategist should also be responding to customer inquiries and reviews, especially negative ones. Customers are much more likely to “call out” a company with a direct link to the company’s profile when they have a negative experience. If this happens, then having a social media manager who understands how to engage and diffuse the situation is key to preserving the brand’s reputation and building loyalty among its base.
The social media strategist should be able to go beyond content and use their tools to help shape the company’s overall marketing and product strategy. They should prepare regular reports on web traffic and be able to analyze what users are responding to and asking for. They should be monitoring user engagement and use this information to optimize their content. They should also turn this engagement into opportunities for gathering product feedback and performing market research. The strategist should also be collaborating with the marketing and product development teams to use their knowledge of product launches and upgrades to create buzz and hype prior to release.
An effective social media strategist is not just someone who knows how to use the various social media platforms. They should also have enough of a marketing background to understand branding, the customer experience, crisis communications, and audience needs. They should understand that their posts need to be more than just cute pictures and memes. Their content needs to be tied directly to the overall social media marketing strategy and further the company’s customer engagement goals. If the social media strategist can not increase their follower base and turn this into profit in some way then they need to reconsider their approach.
Since social media is all about engagement and communication, the social media strategist is in a great position to be able to reach out and form connections with affiliates and partners. If there are influencers or companion brands with whom the strategist can form a mutually beneficial bond, this can go a long way toward increasing audience and follower base. Though one can and should converse with partners publicly, the private message option on most social media platforms is an easy way to begin a dialogue to feel out potential partnerships and work on strategy. Even if they do not end up partnering with influencers the social media strategist should be checking out their followers, as well as the followers of competitors, and start following those who look like they can be useful for building followers. The strategist should make diligent and judicious use of retweets, favorites, comments, and other general reactions to posts from other accounts that might be relevant to the target audience and introduce them to new audiences.
A major source of content and strategy comes from simply tracking trends, news, and conversations on all social networks. The social media strategist should be keeping up to date with current events and thinking of how headlines can be used to their advantage. Social media trending topics should also be monitored and analyzed for anything that is relevant to the business. This can be a time consuming and manual process, so the strategist should know how to quickly find the content that is most relevant to them and their company. They should also know how to weed out noise and ignore the things that their own audience would not find relevant.
A decade ago companies were happy to have an intern or someone fresh out of college sit at a computer and play with Facebook and Twitter on their behalf all day. In the early days of social media marketing this was frequently all that was needed in order to benefit from this avenue since very few firms were really doing it. As more business have adopted social media as a legitimate marketing tool, however, it has become increasingly important to understand how to have an effective social media presence and then execute this plan well. Therefore, the title of social media strategist is not just a vanity upgrade from social media coordinator, but, in fact, a true evolution of what the position requires. The social media strategist is a content creator for sure, but they are also a marketing strategist, collaborator, researcher, analyst, brand ambassador, and a whole host of other roles that can be of great benefit to a business.