A business’s social media presence can make or break a brand. Well-timed posts can create lasting audience connections. Creative visuals and copy can change how consumers perceive an organization. That’s the power of social media management.
Over the past few years, we’ve watched businesses like Wendy’s, Duolingo and more earn new fans—and customers—off their innovative brand accounts. This success isn’t random. It’s all a part of a carefully crafted approach to building and maintaining a social media marketing strategy.
In this article, we’re breaking down all the moving parts that go into making those strategies run smoothly. Use these social media management fundamentals to inform your company’s processes so you can build a follow-worthy presence across the platforms that matter most.
What is social media management?
Social media management is the ongoing process of creating and scheduling content designed to grow and nurture an audience across social media platforms. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Social media content strategy
- Online reputation management
- Community management and programming
- Paid social media strategy and execution
- Team member management and development
The benefits of social media management go far beyond raising brand awareness and staying current on the latest internet trends. The channel is key to building more personal connections with target audiences at scale. The rapport developed on social can build brand trust, affinity and best of all, loyalty.
The evolution of social media management
The definition of social media management is anything but fixed. Platforms and trends are constantly changing, meaning the responsibilities that go into managing a brand account are always changing as well.
For example, in less than a few years we’ve seen the creator economy completely transform how we post on social. The rise of social messaging has brought conversations from public to private, creating more personal connections between people and the brands they love. Social commerce has revolutionized how business leaders perceive the channel, taking it from awareness-focused to a full-funnel experience.
These developments prove one thing: social is driving how consumers interact with businesses, making social media roles business critical.
The role of a social media manager
Social media managers are responsible for developing the strategies that maintain and grow a social presence, on top of administrative and team development tasks. Any given day might involve content creation, campaign strategies, career planning, analytics reporting—the list goes on.
The truly wild thing about working in social media is that none of us are doing the same job.
Some of us are working with influencers to create content, some of us are mastering memes every day, and some of us are triaging emergency situations. It’s always different.
— Alexa Heinrich (@HashtagHeyAlexa) June 14, 2022
Being successful in such a fluid role requires a unique set of skills, including but not limited to:
- Critical thinking
Combined, these talents help social media professionals manage the evolving needs of this business-critical channel.
Managing multiple social media accounts is both an art and a science. Your data can give you a good idea of how to spend your resources—in terms of both money and time—but social moves quickly. The platform delivering results today might take a dip tomorrow.
Diversifying your network strategy is a reliable way to ensure that you’re ready for whatever the powers that be throw at you. An algorithm update on one platform is less of a shock to the system if you have a well-maintained presence across the social landscape.
This is where a social media management tool becomes a must-have. Posting natively (requiring logging into each social network individually in order to post) across social media profiles is a huge time commitment. Factor in engagement and monitoring, and it becomes more than a full-time job.
Tools like Sprout help businesses scale social operations sustainably. Publishing workflows support customization by network while minimizing risk. After all, managing quality control is much harder when your team is running social natively.
These features automate and complement existing processes so you can get out of the weeds and into the bigger picture.
Finding your brand’s target audience on social
The key to creating impactful content is identifying your target audience. These are the people that sit within your brand’s total addressable market. Zeroing in on these individuals will allow you to create more effective messaging across your social media profiles.
To better find and appeal to your brand’s target audience, ask the following questions:
- Who is your current audience?
- What kind of information are they looking for and why?
- Where do they go for this information?
- What topics and cultural moments interest them?
- Which brands do they trust, and what can you learn from them?
The answers to these prompts will inform your approach to social—what platforms you’re present on, how your brand sounds online, what trends appeal to your audience and how you connect with customers.
Getting to know your audience is not a one-time-only practice. Asking yourself and your team these questions on a routine basis can keep everyone in a customer-first mindset.
Social media content creation
Content creation is a fundamental aspect of social media management. People may log on to their favorite social networks to connect with friends and family, but more than one-third (36.3%) stay to fill time.
You can use these spare moments to create lasting connections with your audience, but the competition is stiff. On social, you’re not only up against direct competitors, but other elements vying for attention on these platforms. Marketers need to account for other sources of content, like media outlets, publications and creators.
To stand out, you need to know what people want.
Is your audience looking for entertainment? Commentary on trending topics? A community? Tips and tricks? There are a lot of different reasons consumers turn to brands on social. Finding out where you fit can help your business maintain relevance in an always-on social landscape.
When it comes to formats, the most engaging type of in-feed social content is short-form video. It gained popularity thanks to the meteoric rise of TikTok and has now spread to every major social platform in some way or another.
Short-form video is a powerful way to capture your audience’s attention without requiring a major time commitment on their end. However, a diversified social media marketing strategy makes use of all types of content. This may seem overwhelming, but it’s actually an opportunity in disguise.
You can use a single live video stream to create dozens of short-form video clips, GIFs, text posts and more. At Sprout, we use our See Social Differently podcast to inform posts across networks like Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok.
Team member management
Data from The Sprout Social Index™ 2022 shows that more than three-fourths (88%) of marketers anticipate expanding their team over the next two years.
This type of growth can be an amazing opportunity, but it does come with a learning curve. Developing your team’s talent also means committing to your ongoing development.
Here are four skills to work on as you build out your social media team:
- Reporting and analytics: As you move into a people management position, you’ll find yourself having to speak on behalf of your team’s efforts more often. Understanding how to gather and synthesize data is key to explaining the impact of your social media management strategy.
- Time management: This one is especially critical in hybrid or remote work. Stand-ups, one-on-ones, project kickoffs and all the other meetings that need to happen to execute a strategy can quickly eat away at your calendar. Protect your time by scheduling designated focus hours and conducting regular meeting audits.
- Feedback: Being able to give and receive constructive feedback is more than a skill. It’s a superpower. The majority of HR leaders (89%) agree that ongoing peer feedback is the secret to better business outcomes.
- Empathy: Most social media professionals have to stay online through brand crises, world tragedies and times of uncertainty. Don’t wait until someone is battling burnout to start taking preventative measures. Advocate for your team by keeping mental health at the forefront of your conversations during the good times and the bad.
Have you ever thought about buying from a company only to find out they have poor online reviews? Did you follow through on that purchase? If you didn’t, you’re not alone.
According to a study from BrightLocal, just 3% of shoppers say they would consider using a business with an average rating of two or fewer stars.
Social media reputation management is a critical yet often overlooked aspect of social media management. While it may not fall under a social professional’s core responsibilities, it’s vital to the success of all businesses.
If you’re new to online reputation management, here are three rules that can guide your strategy:
1. Ask for reviews with tact
You don’t have to wait for reviews to roll in on their own. Sometimes, you just need to ask.
Reach out to fans and power users to see if they’d be interested in sharing their experiences with your product or services. Be sure to make the process as easy as possible. Providing a specific prompt or template can increase customer follow-through.
2. Respond to both the good and the bad
That same BrightLocal survey found that more than half of consumers are unlikely to use businesses that don’t respond to reviews.
Responding to negative reviews can be difficult but it’s also a powerful way to let consumers know that you hear and respect their feedback.
3. Be proactive about risk management
Feedback won’t always come through direct channels. People often will talk about your business on their personal profiles without tagging or mentioning your brand account.
A social listening strategy can help you stay on top of the many conversations surrounding your business and industry. Use a social listening tool (like Sprout’s!) to support an opportunity-driven brand reputation management strategy that helps you create lasting connections with your audience.
Management and scheduling tools
Managing an active social media presence with native publishing tools was challenging five years ago. Today, it’s virtually impossible to do alone.
Between sharing content, responding to consumers and managing paid initiatives, social media calendars are more jam-packed than ever. Businesses must invest in social media management and scheduling tools to keep up with the demands of a modern social media strategy.
These tools can do more than save time. The benefits of a social media management tool include the following:
- Increased brand awareness with optimized post times for improved performance.
- Better engagement by consolidating inbound messages into a single location for faster response times.
- Improved analytics that provide a more holistic view into the overall performance of your social strategy.
Adopting a social media management tool can enrich your entire marketing tech stack, making it easier to connect the dots on social’s impact across your organization.
Managing a social media calendar
Your social media content strategy outlines the overarching themes that inform your publishing schedule and how it relates to business goals. Your social media content calendar provides a more granular look at what you’re posting and when across platforms.
In an ideal state, your content calendar can support organization and brainstorming. A bird’s eye view of your upcoming social media posts can help determine if you’re hitting the content mix outlined in your strategy.
For example, say recruiting top talent is a high priority for your business. A look at your social media content calendar can tell you whether or not you have enough employer brand posts scheduled over the next week or month.
This visibility will make it easier to identify which content themes need more attention. Pro tip: if you’re using Sprout, you can use the Calendar Notes feature to keep track of potential content ideas.
Paid social media ads
If you’re weighing the merits of relying on organic vs. paid social media, don’t worry—there’s no need to choose.
Your organic efforts support long-term relationships with your followers. Your social media advertising strategy, on the other hand, will help you reach new audiences quickly and reliably through targeting.
Managing your organic and paid efforts together can keep a brand top of mind with existing and prospective customers. If you can manage them within the same tool, that’s even better.
For example, Sprout supports in platform paid social promotion and reporting so marketers can keep their finger on the pulse of their performance. That way, you can ensure money is being spent effectively and make any necessary adjustments if it’s not.
Online communities have been around for a while, but they’ve never been more important than they are today.
Take Canva’s Facebook group for instance. Canva Design Circle is home to more than 250,000 members seeking peer-to-peer design advice.
The conversations happening within the group might not always be product-focused—they don’t have to be. Posts that aren’t product-related still provide their team with an invaluable look into the needs of their audience.
Thanks to the rise of communities like these and vertical social networks, more and more people are taking their online interactions behind the walls of private groups. If you want to stay connected to your target audience, the best thing you can do is give them a place to make connections of their own and build a social community.
Like Rome, an active social media community can’t be built in a day. If you’re launching new programming or an entirely new community, take a slow and steady approach.
Start with an invite-only beta program designed for loyal customers and power users to test drive your strategy. Once you’re in a groove, you can expand to a larger audience.
Additional social media management resources
If you’re looking for more resources on social media management, we’ve gathered additional reads below that can be found throughout our site.
Navigate the changing world of social media management with confidence
Social media provides businesses with the insights and intelligence needed to understand where they fit in today’s cultural landscape. A strong social media management strategy does more than just maintain an online presence. It can help a brand gain relevance, earn fans and future-proof itself for years to come.
When you take native publishing out of the equation, you open your team up to a world of possibilities. Sprout’s intuitive social media publishing tools minimize manual efforts so you can focus on strengthening your strategy and connecting with your customers.