Sweat The Small Stuff

That’s right: pay attention to the nitty-gritty details. This twist on a classic adage is especially relevant for anyone working in a more specialized field, like social media. Many people regard social as a standalone discipline, when in reality that’s not trueYou’ve probably heard people talk at length about “integrated media” & there’s a good reason for it: social should be complementing, interacting with, and supporting everything else your brand is doing.

The most important piece of advice I’ve learned from my mentors is to sweat the small stuff. In other words, ask questions about things outside your department. Understand your brand’s print campaigns, media placements, and design choices. Get involved with the different facets of your accounts, because no discipline should truly be, as they say, in a silo by itself.

Especially not a brand’s social media practices. Community managers, this is for you.

Social media’s a conversation medium (as you know), and people are going to be talking about a variety of things (some of them ridiculous) in your channels. To be the best community manager, strategist, social media supervisor, content generator, and analyst you can be, you have to constantly keep the big picture in your back pocket. That means asking yourself things like:

— How are people encountering your brand outside of your social channels?
— Why do people respond to your brand?
— What makes your clients themselves excited about their brand?

Understanding your brand’s media mix will give you stronger insight into the current conversation, and how to change it. Knowing where your media is placed, and how people might be feeling or what people might be doing when they encounter your brand ignites the world of opportunity. Plus, it can help measure the work you’ll have to do in other channels to boost overall brand awareness.

Similarly, you need to understand what people want as the end-result of using your product. Method, for example, has this down. Not only do they offer eco-friendly cleaning options for your home, they’ve spent enough money on product research to know what shapes, colors, and smells consumers will respond best to. People respond to it because it’s visually appealing. They buy it because being eco-friendly is either a main part of their everyday lives, or because they like the perception of being eco-friendly (it’s true!).

Last but not least, you need to get your clients themselves. While it’s true that every brand needs to take on a life of its own, your clients are the ones that guide those decisions. At the end of the day, they were hired into their positions for a reason: because the brand you’re marketing is the brand they best represent. So, getting your clients’ visions about where they’re hoping to take things, and listening to the stories they’d like the brand to tell will only make your ability to sell ideas easier. After all, this is the advertising business. You’re never just selling a product.

Where am I going with this? It’s about time that community managers start looking beyond the discipline and preparing for the future. Why? Because if you ask me, five years from now, community management won’t exist. It won’t look anything like it does now (and it shouldn’t). We have to start thinking about the bottom line. How much money is your engagement making for your brand? What is the awareness of a flashy stunt really worth?

These are the questions that are starting to surface. Are you armed with the answers?

[alert style=”yellow”] The bottom line: Having tunnel vision within a social discipline (or any, really) limits the work we’re able to do, and the progress we’re able to make. Go outside your comfort zone, ask questions, and sharpen your old skills by learning new ones. [/alert]