10 Things Not To Say To A Social Media Manager

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we are elbow deep in the holiday season. It’s the time of year were you reconnect with friends and family you might not see all that often. Reconnecting with these people can occasionally end up in some awkward moments. One of those moments comes when you try to explain your job as a social media or community manager to those people who just don’t quite “get” it.
Here is a list, complied from the real life experiences of myself and some of my friends, of what we hear the most. Print out the attached PDF and post it on the fridge at your next holiday party.
So, you have a social media manager or community manager in the family.Pour yourself another eggnog and read this list before you start to talk about what exactly that means.

Top 10 Things NOT to say to your social media or community manager, and why.

Hey – I use Facebook! I’d be so good at your job! While it is true that being a social media or community manager, using Facebook is a part of the job, it is only that. One part of the job. You need to know how to use all the social media sites (and blogging) and how best to utilize them for your community.

I just don’t get the point of “The Tweeter” First of all, don’t call it “The Tweeter”. Calling it that is either ignorance or obnoxiousness, and sometimes both. Twitter is an important part of the social media tool kit. It is a great way to get involved with your community, both talking with and listening to them.

What do you do all day? Short answer: a lot. A day in the life of a social media manager can include a variety of things. From creating and curating content to designing a Facebook contest to searching out what people are saying about the company/brand across the Internet. All that while addressing customer concerns, replying to what people are saying while keeping up with the brand voice and maintaining a positive brand reputation.

You actually use that stuff for business? Social media is an opportune place to get involved in the community with your customers. It is a place to listen to your customers and to know them better. Joining the communities of social media helps to keep your business top of mind and gives you an opportunity to get involved with them in a one on one basis.

Recommended for YouWebcast: The Art of Community Development: Turning Brand Awareness Into Sales

Oh – you could do mine free for me, right? Because we’re friends. No. Social media management is a service, you pay for someone to manage a social media account in the same way you would pay an accountant to do your taxes or a lawyer to read your contracts. Would you ask your cousin the accountant or your sister the lawyer to manage your business’s workload for free?

So, what are you going to do when social media goes away? Things may change and evolve over time, but there will always be a need for businesses to engage with the online communities. While the channels may change, the need will still be there. We evolve with the times.

Can’t I have an intern/my son/my granddaughter etc do that for me? No. The person behind your social media accounts is another ‘face’ of your company. The things they say and do online will reflect back on your company in a positive or negative light. As Scott Stratten says “It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and one tweet to screw it all up.”

You mean like, people pay you to tweet for them? Yes, but consider this… those tweets have a lot of thought behind them. Is it in the brand voice? Does it stick to the social media plan? If it’s curated from another source – is that source a reliable one? Are the facts correct? Is the spelling and grammar correct? Those are just a few thoughts behind every post on any social media site.

Who in the world would pay for that? Isn’t it free? While having the basic set of social media accounts is free, there are charges to some of the tools. You also have to consider the cost of your time. Social media is alive and active 24/7/365. It’s not just 9-5. Do you have time to respond to every Tweet or Facebook post? Can you afford the time it takes to not just write your own blog, but reply to every comment as well?

Aw… that’s cute. But what’s your real job? This is a real job! You might not understand what I do, but that’s ok – we’re still cool. Let’s go have some coco.

Thanks to my friends at the Social Media Club-Milwaukee, Social Solutions Collective and Steamfeed.com authors for contributing to the list!

Comments: 58

  • Carrie,
    I would post a full comment, but can’t stop laughing. I’ve heard ALL ten of these — lol!


    • Carrie Keenan says:

      Elana – You are too sweet – I’m so glad you liked it! I always think it helps to laugh at a situation that can be otherwise frustrating .

  • Steve says:

    You spelled “cocoa” incorrectly.

    • Carrie Keenan says:

      Steve – it has been corrected on the original post, but it did not carry over to this. I hope you enjoyed the post otherwise!

  • Noyemi K says:

    “Coco” is super cute! Please don’t correct it!

  • Jessica Jungton says:

    Great post. I’ve definitely heard a few of these. Although many people know how to post on social media, the complicated part is knowing what to post. There is a big difference between talking to your friends on Twitter and interacting on behalf of a company.

  • I’m glad you liked it Jessica. I agree that who and how you share on social media makes a huge impact on what you get out of it.

  • Elli says:

    Thanks goodness for this post! I have heard all of these, and probably a few others. My extended family has literally asked if I was in sales..

  • Sharon Aneja says:

    This is a fantastic post and I can fully relate to it. Whenever I try and explain what I do to my friends and family, they just look at me perplexed and say “but why?”

  • Nommo says:

    Ahhh yes – the most annoying thing I get asked is:

    “How do you work out the ROI of social media?”

    I answer differently every time – but my favourite is responding with “it’s basically the same calculation as working out the ROI of a website combined with a telephone” :)

    • Sam says:

      Nommo – that should be the most excited thing to be asked, that is the time where you are able to articulate your business value. Articulating the business value of your activity is the single most important thing for any communicator to have a handle on, its what keeps us employed… otherwise we’ll be on the same 18 month cliff CMOs face these days.

  • Hahaha. I love everything about this post! Thanks for sharing this Carrie and the realities that tons of social media managers face when it comes to discussing the “realities” of their jobs. Everyone thinks it’s for fun and the “trendy” career. It is fun and kinda fresh, but it’s WORK!

  • Fantastic post Carrie :) “What do you do all day?” was something I used to get A LOT when I explained what I did to friends and family. Social media isn’t just a fad, it’s a whole business!

    • Thank you Charlotte! I still get that one quite a bit, no matter how many times I have to explain it. I could not agree with you more when you say “Social media isn’t just a fad, it’s a whole business!”

  • This was a good article. I have not yet had the chance to expel my title to critics. My family knows that this is what I am doing…in fact, Im doing free services for my sister now, with plans for payments in the future as her business takes off.

    I do cringe at times though just thinking..oh I will have to tell them I am a social media manager..they will think I play online all day…this helps me figure out the best way to present my work as valid.


  • Marco says:

    It is a sad kind of fun the one i red in this post. I might say “true story”, but that’s not the point.

    In my opinion social media marketers have to improve the sentiment about themselves in two way.

    1.Explaining: We should show more about ourselves, show how much effort even a single tweet could take and show how long some twitter conversations can take, just for the sake of brand reputation.

    2.Reporting: We work a lot, we talk a lot and our customers deserve to know the full volume an value of the interaction we built.
    I think that putting efforts in building easy-to-read report is one of the best use of our time.

  • Georgie says:

    Yup, this is pretty much sums up every conversation I have ever had about my job as a Social Media Editor/Manager. I’m so glad it’s not just me! Some family and friends basically just think I sit on Facebook all day and don’t have a ‘real job’.

  • Thank you … I don’t know if there is anything else that could add to that except, ‘very much’!

  • Liz Long says:

    I’m super tempted to print this out and put it on the board at work just so my coworkers understand even half of what I do! It’s incredibly frustrating when coworkers think you’re wasting time and money simply because THEY don’t understand (or want to) social media. Thank you for this – perfect!

  • Tommy says:

    What strikes me is the elusiveness this job has to others, while it’s clear and obvious on a digital level as well as on a immediate visual level a lot of things are moving.

    I also experience a lack of patience. As it seems a lot of employers who don’t really grasp the concept but realise the need, take someone on – expect quick results and thousands of likes and quantity and sales and and…

    And yes of course, improvement of direct sales, customer binding on the long run, not to a product but your brand and flowing into the social revolution online has it’s impact on the financial health of the company. But this is a long term engagement and conversation. Asks ongoing attention to achieve the right results in correspondence with your message and goal.

    Here I find employers lacking, and I do underline before I start that this will take time, investment and effort. With of course the fruit baring on the long run.

    Social Media should be an inherent part of any modern company that offers products or services. You can’t allow yourself to look the other way when it comes to evolution and consumers wishes.

    I might not have heard all of the above. But I do know it’s a challenge for people to understand how much insight, knowledge and effort it takes to be a community manager, how much personal input and caring you give it. Most probably much more then the guy a floor above you doing the accounting.

    If social media isn’t a passion, you can’t do it with heart, you won’t keep on studying to keep in the loop with it all. You won’t touch people as you should.

    I hope this post is an eye opener for those who minimize this function within any organisation.

    Hugs and merry holidays,

  • Roxann Souci says:

    One of my clients wants a daily update of the things I’ve done. There is no way I can explain the effort it takes to accomplish something which seems to them to be simply a push of a button.

  • Judy Shapiro says:

    Good for you Carrie. Perhaps businesses can include this article in their company newsletter (with your permission of course!)so that people get it. I can totally relate to this. I was a trained dancer, ballet, tap, modern, jazz etc. and remember to this day meeting someone at a party who said “oh, what do you do, sit around and dance all day”? I said “how does one do that”? Thanks for educating many about the important work that is social media.

  • Joe Birch says:

    Social Media Manager? That’s really a job?! lol

  • Amber King says:

    Social media is a profession. It is not simply logging in and playing on social sites. Every tweet, status update, industry post, there is effort and meaning behind each one. Like Scott said, it takes a lifetime to build reputation but a minute to screw it. Social media managers should be careful what they do online because it can make or break their brand or the brand they are representing.

  • Deanna says:

    Came across your article. I am trying to learn more and more about Social media and all the fabulous opportunities it entails. I am completely far from the Social Media field-I am a Social Worker(ok,we both have Social in it hehe). In one way I “get it” because a lot of people assume Social Workers all work for DCFS and sign up people for Medicare. So in a way I “get” where you all are coming from when people don’t understand your field and what it is all about.

    • Hey Deanna, I’m sorry you have to get it, if you know what I mean. Hopefully that inspires some way to answer the comments you get. If you ever want to chat about getting into social, I’m always on “the Twitter” at @carriejkeenan :)

  • Jo Coverley says:

    Thanks – I loved this! My favourite one, which is what I hear pretty much every day is “you’re so lucky getting paid to mess about on Facebook all day!” – It’s times like that we have to bite our tongue and reply with – “Yes, I am very lucky and I love my job!” :)


  • Deanna says:

    Yes that would be great! I asked on forums how to get into social media and it seems like no one wanted to tell me :-/ Thank You for reaching out to me and offering. I will add you as @Dijana79 :-)

  • Since I’d be wearing a suit when this would be likely to happen, I would just reply with the thoughts behind these 10 things.
    Otherwise I’d have an open hand and be ready to lay one across their cheeks – of course I mean this as a joke. But hey, it’s wrong to think that social media is easy and that those that do it should not be valued. Social media managers have to constantly think of effective ways to utilize social media for business and believe me that isn’t as easy as it sounds.

    • Haha – good thing the slap is a joke ;) This post was kind of a passive aggressive verbal slap, so I feel you. I am hoping as social grows that people will start to “get” it down the road

  • Gaurav Pandey says:

    “Oh, so you are a social media expert too, the world seems to be infested with these spammers!”

  • Maria says:

    Ha! The story of my life. Thanks for the great article, Carrie.

  • Janis says:

    I can relate so much with this!! I get stuff like this all the time… But in Spanish. Different language… Same explanations again and again, hahaha. Thanks for sharing

  • Jennifer says:

    Great post and I can totally relate to all of this as I regularly try to explain what I do to people. And they just don’t get it!

  • I have heard all these questions so many times before! After spending lots of hours trying to describe to them, I usually get on the easy route and say “I herd horses into unicorns” :P

  • What? No one told me unicorns were an option! :P

  • Evan says:

    Hahaha, that’s true))) People keep on asking these kind of silly questions and can’t get what actually I get money for))

  • Agree to this 100%! Just because we work in Social Media that does not mean that it’s an easy job to do. Friends ask me “what kind of a job is that if you just need to log in everyday?”, but you being a representative of a company in a community with bashers and trolls is a real job. Each statement should be taken into consideration, and every word you type in will reflect to the company. It’s a huge responsibility, not just a simple task of posting whatever you want just like your personal profile.

  • Jon P says:

    I somewhat sympathise however as some who has worked in middle management for a few years I find it is essential to be able to explain my value to the business in pounds and pence. If I couldn’t at least broadly explain my net effect on the P&L I would have problems. Its best to work on the basis that someone somewhere is looking at RoI in a simplistic way; have sales grown, complaints reduced…etc. Just because a job is difficult doesn’t mean its justified. Not a criticism, just my experience, always best to know your own value in language an accountant would understand!

  • kay says:

    don’t say these items to a graphic designer, freelancer writers and artists, web designers, just about any new media job or creative job that people think is glamorous and super easy…

    don’t kid yourself that your job is the only one lacking respect.

  • margot says:

    don’t kid yourself that your job is the only one lacking respect.
    these things are said to artists, writers, graphic designers, web designers, just about any new media job or creative job that people think is glamorous and super easy when actually they are neither.

Add a New Comment

Thank you for adding to the conversation!

Our comments are moderated. Your comment may not appear immediately.