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Perception vs. Reality: The Life of a Social Media Editor

Social media jobs get a bizarre rep. Sometimes the work is perceived as fun, sometimes too easy, and sometimes downright mindless. Thanks to branded accounts like Wendy’s and MoonPie redefining the level of sass that a brand is allowed to bring to the internet, social media managers are often viewed as comical. What people often don’t consider about social media editors is the time it takes to respond to consumers who live in all corners of the globe quickly, and the downright nastiness that disgruntled internet trolls will throw your way.

Thankfully, as Contently’s social media editor, I don’t deal with many people who get vehemently upset about content marketing and attack us (me) on Twitter. I have, however, curated some accounts that did get such feedback, and I’ve talked with fellow social media editors to lay out the ways this job is much, much different than what the public perceives.

Perception 1: Feelings? Who has feelings? You don’t!

Okay, so maybe it was naive of me to assume that people would be generally nice, patient, and understanding when they tweeted at/DMed a branded account. Oho, not so!

Once, a disgruntled customer tweeted “How does it feel to be as useful as a used rotten tampon?” at my friend, the social editor of a major transportation company. When that apparently didn’t hit home enough, he followed with, “You worthless idiots.” Classy. And that is but one example of the abuse internet users will hurl at branded accounts, because if there’s a human behind that Twitter icon, they can’t see it. They likely don’t care, anyway.

Perception 2: You are available to respond to all requests at any hour, on any day

Have you ever been DM’d the same question four times because you didn’t respond within sixty seconds? Have you ever had to apologize because a Twitter user didn’t understand why you didn’t check your work account on a holiday? Doesn’t that sound like buckets of fun?

These are all very real things that happen when running the social accounts for a large company. Your consumers are based all over the world, so demanding an answer at 3:00 AM your time doesn’t feel crazy to someone who’s living in 9:00 AM. Oh, and you’re taking the Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving off to be with your family? No other country is, and they’ll expect the same timely replies that you give during your normal business hours.

Perception 3: A trained monkey could do your job, and probably better

I mean, no, they probably couldn’t. So far the most complex sentences a gorilla has signed have been “Sad bad stomach” and “give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you.” Not exactly the kind of content that speaks to most audiences, and that’s assuming the gorilla can type. They probably can’t.

Perception 4: You are the company’s customer service department

In many cases, you’re not! Yes, some companies have started using customer service Twitter accounts to handle disgruntled consumer claims (usually because they don’t have an email to go through), but if a brand’s Twitter bio doesn’t expressly say that the account is a good way to get ahold of a customer service rep, it’s probably not.

Yes, the social media editor can direct you toward the customer service department, but harassing them to resolve your issue faster will do nothing to help your case. There are only so many emails and slack messages we can send to the help desk before everyone is annoyed!

Perception 5: There’s a whole team of you

While at larger corporations this may be true, in most cases, it’s just you! One social editor all by your lonesome, constantly trying to wrangle your team into retweeting your company’s posts and asking your friends to follow your workplace on LinkedIn.

Not only are you doing your darndest to boost engagement, you’re spending hours every day perfecting your brand voice and making sure there are subtle tone differences in your posts across platforms. You think in 280-character bursts and catch yourself saying things like “hashtag blessed” IRL.

Sure, you can take time off like any other employee, but you know that ten-day trip to Fiji will mean scheduling so many posts ahead of time, and honestly, your desk is nice, too. Fiji’s probably overrated, come to think of it.

Image by Daniele Riggi for Unsplash
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