5 Things Every Social Media Manager Has to Stay On Top Of

To stay relevant and be effective, social media managers must make professional development a daily routine.

By: Jon-Stephen Stansel
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We ask a lot of social media managers. From creating content and responding to comments, to social listening, developing strategy, and more, a social media manager is expected to undertake many duties. But one we don’t talk about much is keeping up with a field that is rapidly changing and evolving. To stay relevant and continue to be effective in their role, social media managers must make professional development a daily part of their jobs. 

Related: You are not the social media accounts you run

Here are just a few of the many things that social media managers must keep up with.

  1. The Competition: University social media managers need to be aware of what other universities are doing on social media. What tactics are they using? Are they effective? Who are they targeting? Social media managers need to check the streams of all of their peer institutions daily.
  2. Technology Updates: Social networks are constantly changing and evolving. New features are added, old ones are taken away, and terms of service change. Additionally, the tools social media managers use every day for account management change frequently as well – something a non-social media manager might not be aware of. Social media managers must stay current on these updates and be aware of how they might affect their strategies and how these new features could or should be incorporated into their executions.
  3. Higher Ed Industry Trends: A university social media manager must not only understand social media marketing, they also need to understand the field of higher education. This means taking the time to read blogs (like this one!), listening to industry podcasts, attending conferences, and connecting with other social media managers from other universities. This one is extremely important, as university social media managers are often the only full-time social media professional on their campus and need to be able to connect with others in the field. Having a “social media brain trust” is key to growing and developing one’s skills as a social media manager.
  4. Current Events: Social media doesn’t happen in a vacuum. A social media manager needs to know what’s happening in the world and how it might affect their content. You wouldn’t want to post “It’s a beautiful day for a walk across campus” when a hurricane was headed towards your state. Similarly, social media managers need to be aware of cultural events and be able to respond accordingly.
  5. Keeping Up With Internet and Pop Culture: This one is easy to ignore and just assume it’s something to be done outside of work, but for a social media manager, it’s key. What are all these “Squid Game” memes about? What is “Fortnite?” What the heck is a “No bones day!?” These are things a social media manager needs to know, especially working in higher ed where you are tasked with communicating with young people. This knowledge might not even be used to create content, but a social media manager needs to understand what is being discussed online.

This just barely scratches the surface, but it should make it clear that a social media manager’s education and training is something they must continue throughout their careers and make part of their daily routine. The question, though, is how can an already-busy social media manager find the time to keep up with this? In my next column, I’ll share some ways social media managers can make time for daily professional development.

Jon-Stephen Stansel

Jon-Stephen Stansel

Jon-Stephen Stansel is a social media professional with almost a decade of experience managing, building, and creating content for brand social media accounts. He has run social media accounts in entertainment, higher ed, and state government. He is also a co-host of the Thought Feeder Podcast, a weekly podcast offering insights on digital marketing in higher education. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television Production and a Master’s degree in English both from Arkansas State University.

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