Social Media Managers: What’s With All the Whining? - Social Media Explorer
Social Media Managers: What’s With All the Whining?
Social Media Managers: What’s With All the Whining?

I’m not a social media manager. So I offer my apologies in advance. In just a minute, you’re going to be thinking I could be quite a bit more sensitive. My wife probably wouldn’t disagree with you.

But hey, I’m sensitive about some things. I’ll unapologetically tell you that romantic comedy is my favorite movie genre. I would never balk at quiche (I might want some pepper sauce though) and I think George Michael is (was) great. These things count for something, no?

Now that you understand my softer side, I want you to hear me on this…

You social media managers sure whine a lot.

Now when I say “you,” understand of course, I don’t literally mean you. You read our stuff here at Social Media Explorer. You mean business. A weekly dose of Jason Falls and his bullshit-busting articles are right up your alley. Mrs. Kelly tends to call a spade a spade, too and you love her stuff.

social media manager

You can handle the truth.

So when I say you social media managers are whiners, I’m talking about the ones that, er, well, whine a lot. And golly-gee, can they whine.

They whine in blog posts—not on their company’s websites, but online.  They whine on social media. But these are clever little whiners. The whining is disguised in posts about “unrealistic expectations” or “reasons executives don’t get social media” or “questions you shouldn’t ask.”

Those types of headlines suck me in. I expect to find some interesting revelations, but invariably what I find is whining. It’s often well crafted, or subtle, or creative, but it’s whining nonetheless.

Don’t tell me it ain’t so. I see it every day. Today, I went to one of the web’s leading social media sites and read two pieces of world-class whining in a row. Go ahead and challenge me on it and I’ll serve you a Denny’s Grand Slam plate of whining served with a piping hot cup of bitching and a  glass of fresh-squeezed moaning.

I present the finer whines.

(But also, some highly sensitive solutions.)

“People in the company think I screw around on Facebook all day.”

I hear you. I read it all the time. It’s a bummer. But you know what? If people think you screw around on Facebook all day, I suspect it’s because you screw around on Facebook all day.

Not true? Well then why not prove it? How about you draft up a nice little list of marketing objectives, ways your social media marketing efforts achieve them, and data that proves it? Then, march into the Chief Cynical Officer’s office and (1) show him how many people like his company and (2) what that translates into in business terms.

“Everyone expects me to get the company 10,000 Twitter followers.”

Crazy birds. This is just one example. These types of whines include: make our videos go viral; get more +’s; more downloads; more people subscribing to the blog; and a miscellaneous heap of achievements that strike me as having a whole lot to do with social media.

So excuse me, but do they have the wrong department? Should these types of media milestones be cast upon the custodial crew? Maybe they should be stuffed into the customer service suggestion box? As you can see, I’m kind of confused. But I think I have the answer.

Try this. Get more Twitter followers. Get more subscribers. Get more eyeballs on the videos and get more tweeps talking about your company’s content. Or get your resume together and go whine at another company.

“Very few people in the organization understand what I do.”

Hmm. Tough one. Social media does tend to remain mysterious to a lot of people. But I think I have a solution for this one too.

Tell them what you do. Publish something. Conduct internal training. Send email. Make an informative slideshow. Here’s a wild idea: create an online forum to help employees understand how awesome it can be to exchange ideas and engage online. Would this sort of thing be asking too much? I’m thinking these are fair requests to make of a communications professional.

“I’m not given the resources I need.”

What resources would that be? I hit up this website’s CEO, Nichole Kelly, for answers on this one. She said social media managers tend to ask for: online tools, social media ads, and better content.

These are resources indeed. The e-ticket to get them would appear to be human resources and financial resources—and maybe a little dollop of resourcefulness.

Okay, sure, it’s never easy to extract more money from the boss and it’s harder still when people who don’t appreciate what you do to begin with populate the offices above. But again, whining won’t cut it. You need to beef up your RFR (that’s my new abbreviation for “request for resources”) with compelling arguments and evidence.

More specifically, speaking to the trio of things on the social media manager’s wish list….

We need to (but don’t) invest in the serious tools we need.

Getting a budget, or a bigger budget, for anything is an exercise in presenting potential (and attractive) ROI. So there’s your charter.

Do not lead with “Facebook this” and “Twitter that” or anything that conjures images of kittens and casseroles to social media naysayers. Lead with core business goals. Follow with clear strategies for achieving them. Connect the dots to the tools that will accelerate your success.

We should (but don’t) invest in ads on social media sites.

If the boss already thinks you’re wasting time on social media, you can imagine how quickly you’ll be shown the door when you come looking for money too. You better damn well come prepared with a plan.

What’s the objective? How will it be measured? Why is “said” advertising a fit for achieving objectives X, Y, and Z? Why will the company be increasing (not decreasing or deep-sixing) its online ad budget in the months to come?

Our content isn’t strong enough.

Ain’t it the truth? But WHO cares? If the boss stands between you and the money vault, you better make sure the boss cares.

You may have to go back to content marketing square one and build a case for the strategy at large. The exercise that follows should include a strong case for why quality trumps quantity. Along the way, you’ll want to acknowledge the power of SEO, but explain why engagement matters more.

Finally, when it comes time to finance the hiring of the writing, design and production talent you need, I suggest having some undeniably awesome real-world case studies in your back pocket. You might paint very clear pictures of two competitors—one kicking ass and taking names—and one playing the ever-present copycat game that amounts to wasted time and space.

So there you have it: the flavors of whining I come across most often. I know, I know. It’s tough. Not everyone gets this social media stuff.  Whatcha’ gonna’ do?

I propose you resist any temptation to get defensive and play offense like an ass-kicking social media all-star.

About the Author

Barry Feldman
Barry Feldman creates compelling content by telling stories. He's a freelance copywriter, creative director, content marketing consultant, and an alright guy. He specializes in persuasion and engagement and has authored the eBooks "21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Website" and "The Plan to Grow Your Business with Effective Online Marketing" to help improve your online marketing. If you would like a piece of his mind, visit Feldman Creative and his blog,  The Point.
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  • Make a pitch for why it’s deserved? Absolutely! That’s how every other department in a company angles for their share of the pie. If you can’t gather the proof it’s well-deserved, quit whining and be grateful that you can keep your job without it.

  • AJ Passman

    Yeah, but it’s not my fault! It’s my VP who just doesn’t get it!

    Just kidding. I think that we whine because we feel threatened and probably scared that the accusations (if they can even be called that) have an element of truth.

    You’re right. If your boss thinks you screw around on Facebook, you probably do. If the CFO doesn’t think you can justify spending money in social networking, you probably can’t.

    Thanks for the post, Barry, it forces me to be honest with what I don’t know, and it doesn’t let me be ok with being vague and living in the mystery of social media. I think social media has a little bit of what the IT department used to have. Most IT departments were/are misunderstood and seen as a necessary evil and a cost center.

    I fear that social media marketing is going this way in many firms. The rest of the company doesn’t know what to do with it because we don’t know how to measure it. But everyone “knows” you have to have a Facebook page or a Pinboard today. Necessary Evil, but when it’s time to cut costs, guess where it’s coming from.
    Obviously, I don’t feel this way, and I’m dedicated to using metrics to set realistic expectations and show results that make sense to the non-marketers, a lot like IT staffs are doing nowadays. But it’s amazing how the communicators (marketers?) don’t communicate social media’s value effectively! Is it because we don’t believe/understand it ourselves? That’s why I’m so grateful for this site, it keeps me learning.

    Still, I’m figuring out the best ways to match engagement, PTAT, and others into real dollars, especially in the nonprofit realm, if anyone has some good resources or recommendations.

  • Great post. If more posts were as honest and straight forward as yours, there would probably be less whining!

  • A well deserved (and illustrated) slap in the SM Manager face.

  • Isn’t this whining about whining? :) Love this line “Go ahead and challenge me on it and I’ll serve you a Denny’s Grand Slam plate of whining served with a piping hot cup of bitching and a glass of fresh-squeezed moaning.” Great article!

    • It definitely is whining about whining. But it’s a great, honest, and pretty accurate article nonetheless!

  • cklatik

    Good write up Barry. All valid points. In the last section on sourcing the content you state “I suggest having some undeniably awesome real-world case studies in your back pocket.” Do you have recommendations on where to find published case studies? If we’re already covering ground on the other items it’s a bit difficult to make time for a research project or three… Thoughts on that?

  • I laughed out loud when I read your article! You are 100% right. At the end of the day the company wants to make sure the social media manager is assisting in growing the business not wasting money. If a social media manager is proving their worth they wont be questioned or falsely accused.

    They need to send off analytics that prove what they are doing brings value to the company, not just how many likes they were up last week.

  • RavenCourtney

    I think I have the most fun job in the world, so you’ll seldom hear me whining about it. HOWEVER: I will say that when organizations A) don’t understand what you do as a social media manager or B) don’t place a high value on social media marketing in general, it can be more difficult to enumerate your strategies and how they’re working.

    Your best best is to become best friends with Google Analytics’ social reports and show off those conversions every chance you can. Luckily, social media managers also tend to be excellent communicators, so we’ll win you over eventually! ;)

    • Suhhhhweet! An action plan: become best friends with Google Analytics. Show off conversions. Communicate. I’m with you on all of the above. Thanks Courtney.

  • To give them credit, a lot of clients have unrealistic expectations when it comes to social media marketing

    • Who’s them in your “to give them credit” above? And please expand on your point. What are some of the clients’ unrealistic expectations?

      • I was referring to social media managers. They have a hard time pleasing their clients because a lot of them expect too much from it. It seems like a lot of times in social media marketing you will have to deal with clients who barely even know what Facebook is. Many clients have a hard time understanding that social media marketing takes time and you will not see results right away. Like you mentioned above, “Everyone expects me to get the company 10,000 Twitter followers.” Clients tend to think of social media marketing as a “magic sales tool,” while they fail to acknowledge that social media marketing requires time and patience to build up a brand’s loyalty.


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