Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Scheduling Social Media Posts in the Quest for Work/Life Balance

It's terrifyingly easy to let your work consume your life when you're a social media manager: to check Twitter and Instagram on your phone at social events and have everyone excuse your behavior because it's your job. ABC is even taking the "social media manager with no social skills" stereotype to the mainstream with its new show Selfie. But with all of the tools at our disposal, there is no excuse for a social media manager's work to take over his or her life.

Below are my top five reasons why social media managers often tip the work/life scale towards work, including a few commonly cited as arguments against advance scheduling.
  1. Procrastination: When you leave everything to the last minute, you're forced to rely solely on live posting. As you work frantically to get all of your posts out at the right time for numerous clients, ask yourself: could this post have been scheduled in advance? Most of the time, the answer is yes. Eliminating procrastination for posts that can be drafted and perfected in advance leads to more consistent, more professional work, and gives you more time to focus on community management and engagement.
  2. Lack of Advance Planning/Strategy: As Yogi Berra once said, "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." Reliance on live posting is often a sign that a social media manager doesn't have a long-term content strategy or schedule. Developing an overall social media strategy, a content strategy, and a marketing plan/schedule will provide the framework for advance scheduling.
  3. Belief that Scheduling Hurts Authenticity: Pre-scheduled posts don't have to be (and indeed shouldn't be!) any different in tone or content than live posts. They are still your (or your client's) thoughts and words - they are simply executed at an earlier point in time. In fact, pre-scheduling leads to more authentic engagement by giving a social media manager more time for real-time community management and engagement.
  4. Fear of Missing Out: The dreaded FOMO argument comes from people who think advanced scheduling means "set it and forget it." This idea is reinforced by the ineffective social media managers who do just that, often with disastrous results - see #5. The answer isn't scheduling OR live posting, it's scheduling AND live posting.
  5. Fear of Being "That Guy": We've all seen him and bemoaned his behavior - that guy whose inappropriate pre-scheduled, usually self-promotional, messages appear in our feeds during a breaking news event. A prepared social media manager whose advance work gives him or her enough time to monitor live events will see them happening and can cancel or reschedule pre-scheduled messages accordingly.
With the right combination of scheduling and live work, a social media manager can be a relaxed, in control, functioning member of society and have a healthy work/life balance.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Being a Social Media Manager - Not a Social Media/SEO Specialist

As a social media consultant, prospective clients often ask me if I do search engine optimization (SEO) as well. (Or more accurately, they ask "Hey, can you mess with my website so I show up on the front page of Google?") The short answer is, no I don't. Here's why.

In high school, when I asked for more playing time on the varsity volleyball team, my coach told me flat out, "If you try to do everything, you'll never be good at anything." At the time, I was on extra-curricular overload. I was captaining the Junior Varsity volleyball team, singing in two school choirs, regularly starring in drama productions, and competing in equestrian events up and down the West Coast. My coach's words shocked and devastated me. I subsequently dropped out of volleyball and took up several more extracurricular activities, but her words have stuck with me in my professional career.

Here's the difference: high school is a time to have fun and try your hand at everything in order to develop diverse skills and find your passions. Participating in so many different things back then shaped who I am as a person. Trying to do the same now, in my career, would mean sacrificing the quality of the services I provide, and I am not willing to do that.

When clients ask if I do SEO as well as social media management, I explain that while social media activity can have SEO benefits, SEO is an entirely different specialized field. In theory I could do both social media and SEO, and many people do, but I prefer to focus on social media and make the work I do for my clients the best it can be.