The honest truth about being a Social Media Manager

If you’ve been considering a career as a Social Media Manager, then keep reading to see if you feel the same way at the end…

“You just write a few captions, select an image and post it, don’t you?”

Well yeah, basically. But I do it in a way that makes clients want to pay me every month to keep doing it. Let me tell you now, if you’re not providing an ROI (Return on Investment) then people won’t be paying you for long.

We’ve had a few interns now at Trax Media, and let me tell you – they always underestimate what it’s like being a professional Social Media Manager. That’s no reflection on them, not at all. But if you’re thinking of getting into Social Media as a career just because you enjoy posting on your personal account, then you need to do some more research.

Even if you pick one niche and stick with it (I haven’t, maybe I’ll explain more on that later), then each client will vary wildly with their expectations, branding, tone of voice, needs, wants, audience… Basically no two clients will ever be alike. And even if they were, you cannot be copy & pasting your work across different clients!

Writing on your own social media, you just… write. You probably type as you would talk, use slang or emojis completely naturally to you. However for each and every client, you’ll have to match their tone of voice. That means really thinking about what you write, how you write it, where you put line breaks, start new paragraphs, the emojis you use, slang, swearing even! You also need to remember the basics such as a hook, a CTA (Call to Action), their preferred customer journey. Even the details of their business you may wish to mention (location, opening times, USP etc).

Next is of course, the visual aspect. Every client should have brand guidelines, even if they don’t have an official document, they’ll have an understanding of what they want their feed to look like. Are they light, bright and airy. Do they prefer a more dark and sultry look? Perhaps they like bold & colourful. You’ll need to ensure the visual aspect matches their branding. Whether it’s graphics, stock images or even their photographs – consideration needs to be made for the image you’re putting out there.

Here’s a quick example, I have a Planner Company as a client. So that their feed looks purposely curated (because it is), I won’t post the same colour way of planner twice in a row. I won’t post two graphics next to each other either. I also wouldn’t post say, two internal planner images in a row. I make sure that every client’s feed is balanced and thought-out. Then of course you need to consider their fonts, the proper use of their logo… It’s not simply choosing one nice looking photo at a time, it’s putting it altogether as a grid and therefore an overall visual strategy.

Probably the most boring thing to think of, is do you actually know how to be a Social Media Manager? I’ll tell you the exact moment I realised I was really freaking good at what I do. A friend had started a very similar business, and pulled me aside to ask ‘how do you keep on top of posting all of this content every day?’. Oh, my friend. I do not sit at 7pm and hurriedly press ‘publish’ on every post. I could not! You’ll need a scheduler, then you’ll need to work out their optimum time to post, then of course do your hashtag research and correctly tag their location and any other accounts or shop products etc.

That’s probably the three physical and logistical things to consider as a Social Media Manager, these two are more internal battles to have with yourself that you can’t train yourself out of.

Firstly, it’s possibly one of the most recurrent jobs in the whole (I dunno if it actually is, but sometimes it feels that way). You’ve just finished writing their content for that week/month? Good, now immediately start thinking of the next batch. My first intern commented that they didn’t realise it would be so relentless. But it absolutely is. As I said before there’s the written content, the visual aspect, then are you also going to create stories & reels? Because that’s another task or two in itself. Lastly you of course have to schedule it! Are you sure that you can be that consistently creative? Or will you get bored of writing caption after caption, week after week. I personally don’t, I’ve built my working routine over time so it never feels monotonous – but all of my interns have struggled with this. Just because you’re ill, busy or don’t feel like it – the content still needs writing if your client is on a retainer. You can’t just let their feed go silent (not if you want them to pay you anyway!).

Secondly, remember that in order to earn a good living, you’ll almost certainly need more than one client. So it’s not just one feed you need to keep on top of, at the time of writing this I have 14. It’s a lot of time, ideas, personas to get into… Ask yourself if you’re truly going to be motivated enough to keep on top of this workload. As we’ve just discovered, it’s repetitive but you also have to continually think of new ideas. Can you really drag yourself out of bed and come up with 10, 20, 30 new ideas on repeat? Let me tell you, when it’s content creation time I have to self-motivate to get it all done. I have my routines to make it bearable, but you’ll need to come up with your own to keep on top of it all!

I probably sound really bitter and like I’m just trying to talk you out of becoming my competition, but the truth is – if you’re not doing it well then you’re not actually my competition. But you are ruining the industry as a whole. It is a really wonderful job, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I often think even if I won big on the lottery, I’d probably keep my favourite clients. Of course it affords me a wonderful lifestyle and I’ve been able to build what is ‘Trax Media’ around Social Media being our core service. But it breaks my heart when I hear ‘we hired someone, and the posts were just boring’ or ‘they posted for a bit and then just stopped’. Or I look at a feed and it’s just all over the bloody place, but they’re paying their hard-earned money for someone to do it professionally. It makes it ten times harder for legitimate, trained and professional freelancers like myself to show the benefits of a Social Media Manager if a company’s already been burned before.

For each and every thing I’ve written, there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll be going ‘that sounds right up my street!’. Take me for example, obviously I bloody love it, and I know I’m not the only person in the entire world who feels that way. Of course, you can build up your business, your way. You may love the strategy and visual aspect, but the copywriting gets outsourced – our however you want to structure your business. I do a full end-to-end service with our Social Media and I do it all myself, but that doesn’t mean you have to!

I mentioned in the beginning that I didn’t pick a niche, and for me that has helped with a number of the potential issues I’ve highlighted. Not only are no two clients identical, they’re not even in the same industry! This keeps me interested, keeps my brain ticking, means I’ll never ever repeat myself across two clients, and of course maintains my motivation. I can write over 200+ captions in one (very long) day, and trust me writing about totally different topics is one of the only things that keeps me going. I can finish writing about strength training and move onto estate agency, it’s a breath of fresh air after each and every client! But that’s just a decision I made, it may not help you and you may thrive on finding one industry and sticking to it.

Everything I said is pretty much my opinion (but ya know, welcome to my blog), but I do stand by the fact that you should consider these things before advertising and building a business as a Social Media Manager. Can you consistently write as though you’re someone else? Can you follow visual brand guidelines? Do you know how to schedule posts in advance? Will you stay motivated week in, week out? Can you switch between different clients effectively?

I just want to finish by saying, we can take on one intern at a time. So if you’d like to try your hand at being a Social Media Manager – please do feel free to book in a chat to see if we have an interning opportunity at the moment. We ask for at least 2 month’s commitment from you – but you get real world experience within a Marketing Agency and a recommendation on your LinkedIn plus any written references you may need!