Christine Montgomery is the chief digital officer at The Center for Public Integrity. Follow her on Twitter @chrismontgomery.
Want to know the best way to fail at something difficult? Keep telling yourself it’s really hard and you’ll never succeed. Last week’s post, The Social Media Manager’s Lament, was only that — lamenting the bad fortune to have bosses with unrealistic expectations, little or no budgets, difficulty integrating new ideas into the rest of the organization, and trouble prioritizing when there are so many options. Of course, that could describe a lot of jobs, digital or not. So how about offering some solutions for overcoming these hurdles?
Yes, being a social media manager (or a web producer, a programmer, heck, even a chief digital officer) can be a lonely position even in a digitally progressive yet traditional organization. “They” don’t get it, I know. But if you’re a social media manager and you’re not working at a start-up, then a big part of your job is teaching. It should be in your job description — if not in your head — that you can’t be successful unless you can show your colleagues and bosses why what you do is essential to the business. You need to show it’s all about risk and reward, and absolutely something they can “get” if only they put in the time.
Come on! You’re a digital MacGyver, building community and engaging audiences with only scraps of content and your own ingenuity. You’re at the leading edge of communications and it’s your duty to bring as many people onto the bus as possible. And you’ve found lots of ways to push through the tough times, I’m sure of it.
Here are a few things my favorite social media managers do (and don’t) to advance the cause:
- Track metrics, distribute regularly. It’s the old “show don’t tell” method of convincing. Your budget and staff might be small, but how many shares, retweets and likes did you get this week? How did it compare to last week? What are you going to do differently to improve the numbers?
- Set goals and distribute. Your boss might not know an MT from a RT, but he or she understands the importance of growing reach, frequency and engagement.
- Celebrate successes publicly — even small ones. We just hit a milestone number with Twitter followers. I used the morning meeting to call attention to that. Everyone wants to be a part of something that’s growing and succeeding.
- Start with the “easiest” people first, meaning don’t spend all your energy trying to convince the most ardent non-believers of the wonders of social media. Take advantage of all the willing ones first. At some point, Mr. “I don’t get it” will be a party of one.
- Set up Twitter for the bosses. Find the 20 or 30 people they would be interested in following: industry experts, major news sources. It’ll combat the myth that social media is about what I ate for breakfast.
- Host frequent, informal training sessions. Reserve your conference room at noon once or twice a month and invite people to come talk about how to use social media in their roles. You can lead these sessions or have others in the organization take turns. If you don’t get a big crowd, buy cookies.
And a few don’ts:
- Believe “they’ll never get it,” or they never will.
- Act arrogantly. You may really be way more hip than most, but smug is ugly.
- Spend too much time in “woe is me” mode. Working in social media is a pretty fun gig.
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