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Social Media Manager: The Voice Behind the Screen

Published on March 16, 2021, at 4:14 p.m. 
by Rachel Breeding.

In the simplest of terms, public relations is exactly what it sounds like: managing relations with the public. Whether it be for a brand, a corporation or a public figure, it is the job of PR practitioners to ensure that their clients are maintaining positive relationships with their publics and the media.

For years, the work of a PR professional was limited to the already-established forms of media: print media, radio and TV were the primary ways industry professionals helped spread the messages they wanted the public to see or hear about a client.

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Now, however, we are living in the digital age, and with that comes the addition of social media to the channels people are using to spread their messages. Through social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, direct communication with target audiences is easier, and more interactive, than ever before. With social platforms growing by the minute, PR firms and agencies, as well as individual clients, are looking to hire social media experts to ensure their social media presences are positive and reaching the people they are intended to.

In the modern world of public relations, no career is growing quite as quickly as the social media manager. Social media managers are the perfect mix of public relations and marketing; they must use PR tactics to create awareness, acceptance and action amongst target publics. They also use elements of design and marketing strategies to carefully curate aesthetically pleasing and interesting social media profiles across multiple platforms.

Social media managers, or other similar titles like social media coordinators or assistants, are becoming integral pieces of the PR puzzle for major PR firms or agencies. As a PR professional, it is vital to recognize the importance of social media as a PR tool and to acknowledge the work that those working exclusively in social media management and curation are doing.

Still, there are many who may not fully know or understand what a social media manager does. Through the voices of three current social media managers, a better understanding of how important this job is can be discovered. Others interested in working with social media platforms for their careers may realize that this is the exact job for them. First, one must understand what exactly a social media manager does from day to day.

What is a social media manager?
Anna Beth Peters, social media manager for URGE UA, an organization on The University of Alabama’s campus, has been working in social media management since 2018. She said the most important aspect of her job is ensuring that her organization’s social media platforms reflect the organization effectively.

“For me, it really is all about brand management,” said Peters. “It is my job to make sure that the URGE UA Instagram and Twitter are up-to-date and promoting who we are in the way we want it.” When asked about the importance of her job, Peters said, “I don’t want to sound overly confident in myself, but I genuinely do believe that my job is very important to our organization.” Peters went on to say that social media is the main way URGE UA stays connected with current members and supporters as well as potential members who are interested in its mission, and that without someone dedicated to managing the social media, there would be no real way to establish important relationships with target demographics.

Photo by Muhammad Faiz Zulkeflee on Unsplash

What else do social media managers do?
Though keeping social media platforms up-to-date and relevant to whatever organization or person they are representing is an important aspect of a social media manager’s job, it is only a small part of one’s daily responsibilities.

Katherine Sims, social media coordinator for The Morgan Company, a promotional advertising company, said that there is much more to her job than initially meets the eye. “I feel like people don’t always fully understand what I do,” said Sims. “I am actively creating content in addition to managing social media platforms, and that is super important.”

Creating original content is the area of social media management where the design aspect of PR really comes into play. While describing the content she creates, Sims said, “I am constantly making graphics, flyers and other promotional materials. The things I design quite literally represent the company, so it’s super important that I know what my employer wants to say to potential clients through the materials I create.”

Why are social media managers so important in PR?
With an understanding of what a social media manager is and the responsibilities one might have, it is equally as important to understand the relevancy of social media management in modern public relations.

Jenae Roberts, the current social media assistant for the University of North Alabama’s Department of Foreign Languages, believes one of the most important aspects of her job is monitoring social media analytics to maximize engagement.

“In addition to managing all posts and content shared on the Department of Foreign Languages’ Instagram, I also consistently monitor our Instagram analytics,” Roberts explained. “From a PR perspective, the analytics are incredibly important because they allow me to better formulate our posting schedule to ensure we are reaching the people we want when we want.”

Additionally, Roberts is in charge of directly responding to all private messages and comments received on the accounts she manages. When discussing dealing directly with the public, Roberts said, “I may not be the public face of the Department of Foreign Languages, but I am the public voice, and that is equally as important to maintaining positive relationships and a good reputation.”

As the world continues to become more digitally focused and social media usage continues to rise, it is more important than ever for anyone working in PR or looking for PR services to capitalize on the advantages that a positive social media presence can bring. In terms of PR careers, the social media manager is one that should not be overlooked.

Simply put, social media managers are not only in charge of managing social media accounts, but they are also in charge of the public’s perception of their organization or client through social media. From a PR perspective in the digital world, there aren’t many things more important than the voices behind the screens.

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