Is the Role of the Social Media Manager Changing?

Social media manager

2011 was the year the social media manager’s role was starting to appear on job boards across the Internet with the main responsibilities around building and managing communities across many platforms. Could this role change within 3 years? Are we going from managing conversations across numerous platforms to managing relationships with agencies? I gave a talk on ‘Social Media and Customer Service’ last week for the NOA and this subject came up. Here is why I think there is a strong possibility of the role changing:

An emerging trend in digital marketing is the shift from campaign to relationship marketing. The music industry were early adopters of this. Traditionally a music campaign would look a like this:

– First single released through radio with artist promotion
– Video released with more promotion
– Single available to buy with extra promotion
– (If successful) 2nd single released with promotion and maybe a video
– Album released….with promotion
– (If still successful) 3rd single released with less promotion
– Tour that has X amount of dates

This may take about 8/9 months and once finished the artist would vanish for over a year and then come back on the cycle to promote the next singles and album. The problem in 2013 with having a break for so long would mean a void for fans and an opportunity for other musicians to fill that void. When the artist who is use to the traditional cycle returns, the market would have changed and it can be an uphill battle to regain those fans.

Maybe you are a fan, maybe you are not, but the Black Eyed Peas and Rihanna are masters at this model. They have spent a lot of time building relationships rather than doing the traditional campaign route. Personally, I don’t even know what single is on what album with these guys because every 2 months there seems to be a new song released. What has been key to their success has been that they have stayed front of mind, consistently managed to grab their fans attention and built strong relationships.

The same principle is happening in other industries, especially in the B2B sector. Relationship marketing seems to be replacing campaign marketing and, of course, social media plays an important role in this happening effectively. According to the site searchcrm, relationship marketing can be defined as:

“A strategy designed to foster customer loyalty, interaction and long-term engagement”.

A social media manager’s primary role has been to build and manage communities but is the role evolving? With conversations happening across the Internet at different touch points, it is becoming increasingly harder for one person to stay on top of this. To manage communities is one thing but to listen to all the relevant digital chatter, interpret the meaning for your organisation, measure success, escalate issues, create content and report the important findings, as well as staying up to date in an ever changing industry, is becoming harder.

Where I see the role changing is from managing communities to managing agencies or outsourcers, similar to a lot of PR departments. Managing relationships and setting direction will be essential skills needed for the future social media manager, along implementing strategies with a team of community managers be they internal or from agencies / outsourcers.  Social media managers will need to be more strategic and will flourish once they can answer the ‘so what’ behind social media plans for their organisation and can articulate that to the agencies/outsourcers /community managers to execute.

by Andrew Davis

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Written By Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis is a leading social media authority and one of the most experienced social media trainers in the UK. He works with small businesses through to global brands and shows them how to effectively use social media to meet their business needs and save time. His career spans 12 years in digital and he has spent much of his recent career focused on the impact of social media. You can find him on LinkedIn and Google+

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