This is the second in our ‘Confessions…’ series where we go behind the scenes and ask professionals in media, marketing and sales to share their dirty secrets (anonymously). We’ve spoken to a newspaper comments editor about the UGC he receives from readers (yes, looking at you Ronnie) and now we turn our attention to the most modern of professions: the social media manager.

Our anonymous social media manager dishes the dirt on demanding clients and the mysterious universe of earned, paid and owned – and, no, she’s not talking about her relationship status.

Confessions of a social media manager

Legends say we came from a galaxy far, far away to help brands bridge the gap between what they think customers want and what customers actually need.

People usually see our job as posting pictures of cute puppies or staring at #foodporn photos on Instagram. Let’s face it: despite our greatest efforts, our mothers will never get what we do for living, and friends will keep on laughing at how easy our day at work must be. Do we care? Not really. Here are some truths that I think every social media manager can relate to…

Master of puppets

Our projects vary a lot.

One Saturday night I found myself glued to the TV watching the Eurovision Song Contest. No, not because I am a fan of a cheesy pop-song competition but because my client who’s one of the biggest pizza delivery providers wanted to interact with customers staying in that night. I put my creative pun-hat on and within few hours involved hundreds of hungry people in pizzalicious conversations (and fell utterly in love with Conchita).

The other time, I had to convince key female bloggers to sample and review the latest product from…  a vibrator producer who was expanding his business to the UK market. Yep, our work is never boring.


Always on

Social media is 24/7 and so is our job. Whatever news your friends send you, you have already tweeted about it


The most frustrating thing is that other departments still see us as something additional to their marketing projects and bring us to the table at the last minute.

A few summers ago my boss called me into a meeting:

“Our client is one of the Commonwealth Games sponsors. We’ve got the advertising campaign sorted, but they just want some advice on the social media front”.

After seeing the client, we realised that *some advice* they needed was actually a full social campaign to support their experiential activities. The advertising department had a year to prepare for the event. We had two weeks.

We put together a strategy, created new content and liaised with the media agency about paid support.  During the Games, our working day would start at 7am with a client call, followed by a midday check–in and the final round-up at 6pm. Everything was happening in real time; we were monitoring conversations in relation to our client’s name as well as the official Games hashtags.  The big part of the campaign was to engage with spectators and collect UGC on an hourly basis. The best images / videos were shared on the hub page (a piece of software was gathering and filtering all the tweets posted under the official hashtag).

There were obviously few screw-ups along the way. If you work 16hrs a day for two weeks in a row, you are mentally and physically exhausted. Sending out tweets with the wrong ambassador’s handle, messing up the times of the athletes’ races… people got frustrated, but you had to keep going and focus on the next steps.

We had some fun too though, like handling a Twitter banter with another sponsor and sharing a bucket of beers when an important social influencer picked it up and the next day we got a wave of people joining in.


They call us directors of chat marketing. Gurus of .gifs. Wizards of Vines.  I personally like the Ninjas of banters most.

You might think we don’t care that much, hiding behind our screens. But the truth is, we take everything very personally. Only a real social manager can understand how deep a feeling of love for the customers can go. Or despair, quite frankly, as often people complaining forget that they are talking to another human being who has to deal with hundreds of complaints directed at the company s/he happened to represent.

Once the issue is resolved though and we receive a surge of gratitude, we feel like this:


Battery drama queen

We think we’re like MacGyver – give us a phone and an internet access and the world is ours. But no matter how often we charge our phone / how many power banks / spare batteries we carry, we’re always out of juice. End of story.

Erm… What do you mean there are NO POWER SOCKETS in this building!?


Nothing is what it seems anymore

Once you become a social media manager, you start living in a mysterious land known as earned, paid and owned. And you never look at some words in the same way again.

Organic? Nothing to do with the healthy vegetables from your local farm, but rather the scraps of engagement the social platforms offer for free.

Viral? Unless you’re getting a flu vaccination, you’re talking about that piece of content your boss wants you to reach the entire universe with. Now, don’t be silly. Of course there is no paid budget available. Not sure why answering with: ‘We’re not Derren Brown, boss’ doesn’t go down that well though…

We used to weep over yet another change in Facebook algorithm (again? REALLY?). Now we just slightly shrug our arms and chuck away months of preparations that no longer can bring the required results.  (Note the recent news from Facebook showing that user-generated content will be getting even more priority in the news feed).


Apps guru

Our phone has more social apps than it has contacts. And despite that, people still question whether we really are in a social media business as our personal accounts haven’t been updated since the Olympics.


Your life mantra

Log in, log out. Log in, log out. Log in, log out.  And your worst nightmare when you wake up after Christmas party and realise you posted your colleague’s lap dance on client’s Instagram account. Yes, it did happen. To my intern. No, he doesn’t work for me anymore.


That’s all folks!

Confessions of a social media manager