5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Work In Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest. These are the candy-colored social networks upon which brands are forced to build their empires. And swelling the ranks of marketing departments everywhere are social media managers, answering the clarion call of the 21st century, here to build the new empires their #brands so desperately crave. Hailed as technologically savvy, pop culturally relevant, and the saviors of customer acquisition, social media managers have a big job to do.
And if you’re thinking of getting started in the field, this post is for you. My poor, poor, sweet summer children. You think you know, but you have no idea. Which is why I’m here to give you one. Let my six years of mistakes and gaffes be your Jiminy Cricket, hanging out on your shoulder, advising you of what not to do as you journey along a constantly-changing career path.
May the Force be with you. (You’re going to need it.) And without further ado, here are five reasons why you shouldn’t work in social media:
- You can’t handle being available 24/7/365.
This one should be fairly obvious. Social media is always on and always present. Our smartphone-addicted society is consuming content at a pace faster than we can create it. Which means that, as a social media manager, you’re always on call to react to the latest celebrity death or awards ceremony gaffe with a perfectly crafted tweet. Conversely, you’ll also be prepared to pull scheduled content at the drop of a hat, less an innocuous Facebook post about “hitting the hay” turns into the next Tesco social media fiasco. While your PR department cleans up the mess, you’ll still be left with egg on your face. And maybe without a job, too, depending on the severity of your mistake.
- Your mistakes are more public (and therefore more embarrassing).
I’ll never forget the day a manager brought me into a meeting, and showed me a screenshot of a Facebook post on her laptop. I had to read the post twice before an obvious grammatical error made itself, you know, obvious. It didn’t matter that the copy was provided to me by a colleague; it was my responsibility to review it before posting. Cue 40-plus comments calling out our error in a very public manner. My manager was disappointed; I was mortified. It’s nightmare-inducing… seriously. You haven’t lived until you’ve woken up in a cold sweat, mind racing, hands grappling for your iPhone, fingers frantically punching at the screen as your bleary eyes try to focus on its harsh glow, because you think a mistake has made its way into the most public of arenas. It usually (almost never) is a real mistake, but no matter. You’ll repeat this process every two weeks for the rest of your life.
- You can’t keep up with rapid, constant change to strategy, tactics, features, and more.
Within 24 hours, Instagram can release a new feature, Facebook can tweak its algorithm, Twitter can go haywire with customer complaints, and your social management dashboard can be interrupted by hackers on a large-scale mission to wreak havoc for ransom. And you’ll be expected to meet daily sea changes with aplomb and finesse, seamlessly weaving each adjustment into your brand’s overall social strategy, with little-to-no disruption in meeting company goals. And you’ll also need to memorize each change as it occurs, because every time it happens, the way you do your job also changes. Forever. If you can’t keep up, don’t bother.
- You’ll lose your shit the next time a colleague assumes your job is easy.
“Everyone has a Facebook, so how hard can it be?”
“VERY FUCKING HARD!” you scream internally, while keeping a saccharine-sweet smile plastered to your face externally. You take a deep breath.
“Barbara, I really appreciate your feedback,” you say in real life, to the offending colleague. “Packaging this campaign to target our audience and create max engagement depends on timing, brand voice, and photo selection all being on point.”
“Well, I still don’t understand, but it doesn’t seem that complicated to me,” replies a slightly wounded Barbara, shuffling back to her cubicle. You exhale.
Seriously. This will happen, oh, probably once a week, if not more. Your mileage will vary on this, depending on the age of the company you’re working for, as well as the average employee age. Be prepared to get lots of Fisher Price questions, and be prepared to answer the same questions over, and over, and over again.
- You hate numbers.
Bitch, this shit is all about numbers. The number of people reached, the number of people engaged, how many people commented, versus liked, or shared, out of the total number of engaged users. And then you’ve got video views: 10 seconds, 30 seconds, how many watched until the end? And then you’ve got interaction rates, i.e. the ratio of engaged users to the total number of people reached in a particular post, or a particular date range, quarter, year, forever and ever, amen. And this is just the tip of the numerical iceberg. Point is, if numbers make your head swim (and I myself feel slightly dizzy for everything I’ve just mentioned), this really isn’t the career path for you.
If you’ve gotten this far to meet me here, thanks! I’m assuming anyone who got too freaked out by my anecdotes (or found me too annoying, I’m not discounting that fact either) has bounced. And now it’s just us left here, hanging out on the bottom of the page. You’ve made it this far; your tenacity will serve you well in this career.
And it’s not all funeral dirges and post-apocalyptic wastelands. There’s a ton of upside to working in social media, and I’ll tell you why. Stay tuned for my next installment: 5 Reasons Why You Should Work In Social Media.