6 common misconceptions about social media professionals

social media professionals

About half the people I talk to think social media is a dream job. Others openly express they’d rather spend their days scrubbing toilets. Regardless of which camp you fall into, these 6 misconceptions about social media professionals often dominate career-related conversations. Let’s clear them up once and for all.

1. We spend all day tweeting

I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked, “How long can it take to write 140 characters?” The answer is not long – once you have your strategy down. The truth is, social media professionals spend a very small portion of their time – probably less than 10% – actually writing posts for the different channels.

The majority of our time is spent on strategy, and keeping abreast of a landscape that changes faster than any other marketing channel known to man. We’re constantly communicating with our teams to optimize new initiatives for social, auditing our channels to see what our audience is talking about and responding to (and then responding to them), watching our peers and competitors and their audiences, scouring our organizations (and the internet in general) for any form of appropriate rich media we can find, reading about the latest innovations in the digital space and figuring out how to shift our strategy accordingly, oh, and analytics, metrics and numbers. Lots and lots of numbers. And that’s just the beginning.

2. We live and die with Facebook and Twitter

I personally don’t think Facebook and Twitter are going anywhere any time soon, but even if they were to phase out, it doesn’t mean us social media professionals are out of a job. Facebook and Twitter are social media channels, but social media as a profession refers to the broader use of digital media to connect and engage. It’s not channel specific. In other words, social media is evolving, and our jobs will evolve with it, not in spite of it.

3. We’re either numbers people or creative people

We have to be both. All the time. We have to be good with numbers to analyze what is and isn’t working, and why, all day long. Then we have to switch on our creativity to optimize, optimize, optimize in an environment that rewards the cutting-edge. Basically, we have to always be one step ahead. It’s exhausting. And wonderful.

4. We have the best jobs because we get paid to be on Facebook all day long

It’s true, we do love our jobs. A social media professional who isn’t passionate about social media will burn out very, very quickly (it gets pretty intense). But being on Facebook for us (at work) isn’t the same as being on Facebook for you. Let me demonstrate.

Here’s what a thought stream might look like for a non-professional who’s scrolling through Facebook for fun.

Oh look, Michael got a new puppy. Sally and Drew finally got engaged! Megan posted another video about cross-species friendships. She always has the funniest videos. I’m going to watch it. Oh first I have to message my brother. Did I ever get back to him about next weekend?

And here’s what it looks like for us.

Why was the engagement rate higher on this post than the one I posted yesterday? Was it the content or the timing? Maybe I should post in the morning instead tomorrow? Or was it that the imagery was more compelling today? That reminds me, I need to get with Sally about the new photos. Oh look! My competitor just posted this news story. That’s an interesting take on it. I wonder how the others are framing it? I’m going to go check. Did I just get remarketed to by this vendor I was checking out yesterday? Damn they’re aggressive.

It’s not like we don’t experience the first one. We definitely do (sometimes even while we’re at work, and yes, it’s a lot easier for us to explain it away to our bosses), but it’s like two separate worlds for us because we’re in two separate mindsets. It’s like your high school cafeteria. During the day it’s your standard, no-frills cafeteria. But at night it harbors your homecoming dance. Same place, two entirely different states of mind.

5. We’re automatically tech savvy

While we’re probably more tech savvy than the average Joe by necessity alone, it’s not like we can fix your computer just because we know how to retarget a Twitter ad. We’re not your IT department, and we rely on them just as much as you do (maybe more – we also tend to break things more often. Natural curiosity).

6. We’re better at online communications than offline

Just because we’re good at communicating online doesn’t mean we devalue in-person communications. We don’t like social media because we’re otherwise socially inept. It’s an additional way to communicate, not a replacement for actual socialization.

What misconceptions about social media professionals do you come across from your friends, family and co-workers? Tell us in the comments below!

One thought on “6 common misconceptions about social media professionals

  1. 7. Get us out of that radio commercial between being a barista and a dogwalker

    Not only is it offensive to dog walkers and baristas, but it implies that we fiddle some Facebook posts together and then are off.

    I loved your point about our work not just being Facebook and Twitter. We don’t write your Facebook posts, we make your online presence worth looking at. That’s a job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *