My new role – and why I love it

hop display in Collins Street

I was recently promoted from PR Executive to Social Media Manager. I’m absolutely loving my new role. But it’s also been a surprisingly steep learning curve. Why?

Well, it turns out there’s a big difference between using social media as part of your broader PR strategy and being completely immersed in it eight hours a day, five days a week. And at night. And on weekends. Social media never sleeps – it is truly a 24/7 job.

I’ve been in the role now for about six weeks. I’m learning how to take time out and switch off – without actually switching off. It’s Friday night (and my iPhone’s quiet) so I thought I’d share my experiences and insights so far.

Social media is turning me into a data hound

I am not naturally a numbers person. I’m a writer and the fact that I am not strong in mathematics has never mattered before. That old PR chestnut, how do you effectively measure reputation, has always saved me from having to dive deeply into data.

But social media requires it. The platforms and tools on offer provide comprehensive data that can be measured, analysed and used to maximise engagement. So I am learning to think in numbers. My new mantra: You can do maths. And you will do maths.

Social media uses all my professional skills

This is the aspect I am most enjoying. When creating content I feel like a journalist again. You need to be a news hound and create content that is fresh, compelling and relevant. As curator of our social media channels, I feel like an editor sourcing news and information from the full range of sources across the organisation.

My PR background gives me a focus on relationships and reputation, both of which are at the heart of social media. Even my 10 years experience in the hospitality industry (prior to moving into PR) serves me well in regards to the customer service aspect of social.

I’ve discovered good customer service basics – always be polite, respond in a timely manner and be as helpful as possible – work equally well in the social space.

Social media allows me to be more creative than ever

You have to think creatively in social. I’ve always loved photography but now I’m getting the opportunity to really explore that passion. I’ve become obsessed with Instagram. Images are so popular on the social web so I’m always on the lookout now for photo opportunities and interesting shots.

I can have fun with social content rather than being corporate. After years of writing media releases, reports and speeches, which now seem rather stiff and dull, social content is just so much fun.

Social media is making me think faster

I think faster. I talk faster. I probably even walk faster! The social web moves at rocket speed and when you’re immersed in that world, everything else in life seems to have suddenly slowed down. Except weekends – strangely, they still end very quickly. One negative I’ve noticed is that I find myself interrupting in conversations more than ever, and talking way too much, which I really need to watch.

Social media is making me more organised

I used to have an impromptu approach to social media. But having an editorial calendar and scheduling content means I’m now planning more than ever. Hootsuite is my new best friend. I used to think scheduling tweets wasn’t very authentic but now I see it differently. Scheduling content tweets in the morning and having conversations in real-time throughout the day seems to provide a workable balance. The editorial calendar for Facebook is booked up for the month ahead.

But there is always flexibility and content gets tweaked and moved around. It’s dynamic and fluid and ever-changing – just like the social web itself.

Do you work in social media? What do you love about it?

13 responses to “My new role – and why I love it”

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  9. Hi Summer,

    As you know, I am not a journalist. I originate from the IT-side of things. To me it makes total sense to have journalists fill roles like yours and those of Matt and Steve, because you learned how to attract an audience, writing. The best proof is that I feel like I’ve got nothing better to do rather than responding to this blog, although I’ve got loads of other stuff to squash into my precious weekend.

    When starting to engage with Social Media through my studies, on a regular basis, I soon realised that I was entering a parallel world. Without a sense of day and night, borders, or time, we are all one great society in an endless universe. But in our minds we still constantly relate the information we gather from this parallel world to the geographically and temporally limited cultural space that contains our cultural heritage.

    Actually, this is what fascinates me most about the Web as it is today: What we sense on the Web can be completely disbanded from the real world. People can be who they want to be. When we engage with each other on the Web, person to person, our online-ID engages with a reflection of another real world person who’s virtual ID attracts us. It doesn’t matter how distorted the online ID is, if we don’t know the real world copy. Women can act as men and vice versa, people strangled by societies norms and moral restraints put upon them by religion, colour of their skin, sexual orientation etc. may use the Web to be themselves.

    I think this is the most compelling part of social networking. Journalists have always been the catalysts to explain cross cultural differences and I think, thanks to good journalism, in the long run, we’ll all find out that our differences are based on a lack of knowledge and understanding. Social media is all about contributing, sharing and discussing – a great opportunity to catch up on the world.

    All the best,


  10. Your experiences sound very similar to mine. I was working as a freelance journalist in Asia and then decided to look for something a little more secure. So I turned to the NGO world and found what for me is really the perfect job: web and social media manager.

    And it’s exactly like you said. It’s fun, but it’s non-stop. Even when I get home or on the weekend, little things pop up that I can use. Organisation is definitely key and the wall in front of my desk is basically plastered with all the elements of my editorial calendar.

    The bits I enjoy the most are still those that see me “being the journalist”, going out to the field and taking pics, writing stories and whatnot, but now that’s just one element of my work.

    Good luck in your new role.

    1. Hi Matt,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to post a comment. You just gave me an idea – putting my editorial calendar on my wall. I currently just use a digital version. Thanks! It’s so nice to connect with other social media managers. Agreed, content is only one part of the job – there’s also training, policy, guidelines, measurement, reporting, strategic planning, developing business cases for new channels… it’s a very diverse role!

      Thanks again for dropping by and best of luck with your work too 🙂

  11. Loved this and recognised much of it. I was until recently head of marketing & communications for a non profit in Hanoi – in the past they’d used a lot of advertising and promotions but we were keen to make a large scale switch to social media methods. As a former journalist, like you, I recognised the newsdesk feel of it all. I literally had a comms head at my right hand and a digital head at my left. Every day was just about driving content.

    We were working in two languages so there was a lot of copy checking, translating, editing – adding captions. Not to mention editing and resizing photos and grumbling when departments gave us rubbish to work with.

    I learnt things like, when we opened new teaching centres, of huge interest were the Flickr photos. You can tell people what you like about the quality of the teaching but how the classrooms look are tangible. In general we used to take one pic for a press release or onsite article now we were saving the best 10 – 20 for sharing. Don’t waste any content if you can.

    I loved the pace of it, it cut out so much of the crap and it empowered people to make decisions.

    Re,customer service. Yes. I recently emailed my gym and got annoyed when they didn’t reply within two days. I posted the same question on their Facebook, nothing for two days and then tried their Twitter feed which their manager eventually got back to me on. He’d been on holiday but spotted it when his staff hadn’t.

    The old days of five to ten day turn around are laughable now. Emails within a working day, social media within a couple of hours – instant is better. In the meantime you’re sifting through everything online to find information to share, react to – or when you need to say thanks, assist or apologise.

    There are a lot of people out there who think that it’s all about pushing but it’s not – it’s helping and it’s far more about networking than marketing. I’ve a hunch that people sign up to feeds because they already know they like the product, they just want to know that the company also represents decency and the right values and you have to demonstrate that.

    1. Hi Steve,

      Thanks so much for dropping by and taking the time to post such an interesting comment. Your job in Hanoi sounds fascinating – throwing two languages into the mix would certainly be challenging! Wow, it sounds like an amazing experience. What are you up to now?

      I agree, journalism is a fantastic background for the content side of social. Journalism was my first true love so it’s wonderful to experience it again, albeit in a new way. I love the pace of social too – it actually reminds me of the stress of daily newspaper deadlines.

      I completely agree with your time frames for social responses. I aim for immediate but sometimes you have to ferret around for the answer so it may take a little longer. But agreed, within two hours is the right amount of time. Admittedly on weekends I take a more relaxed approach, checking the accounts only every couple of hours or so.

      Images are a huge trend on the social web right now. I think it’s because people are so time-poor they want to be entertained and informed as quickly as possible and then move on. And as they say ‘a picture tells a thousand words.’

      I agree – I’ve heard it said that social is selling without actually selling. The old rules of marketing don’t necessarily translate that well to social content. Slick doesn’t work as well as raw. Simple branding looks boring. Constantly plugging marketing messages makes people switch off. We need to draw our network in by publishing gold! And just between you and me, I think former journalists are probably the best at that 🙂

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, I really appreciate it 🙂

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