Calling social marketers “gurus” is not the compliment you think it is
Anyone who’s worked in social media has been called a social media guru or wizard at some point in their career. And while on the surface those terms sound complimentary, the reality is they can be more harmful than helpful. .
Think of it this way. If your director of sales closes a deal, you would never chalk it up to the sales guy being a ninja. Even if a salesperson was called a wizard in passing, there is no mystery as to what someone in sales actually does or how they do their job.
But a social marketer might be referred to as a guru or their work attributed to magic, particularly when the person giving the compliment isn’t sure why a social campaign performed so well. Not only is this discouraging for social marketers to hear, it can also reveal a marketing leader’s knowledge (or lack thereof) about social marketing. What you might mean as a compliment can come across as a sign that you’re not entirely confident what a social marketer’s job entails or the skills that they employ day to day.
When a company lists that they are seeking a "Social Media Guru" you immediately know they don't know shit about social media.
— Adrian Molina (@theadrianmolina) January 22, 2014
Social media managers are often told, "work your magic!"
It's not magic.
It's marketing, communications strategy, and subject matter knowledge.
— Jenny Li Fowler (@TheJennyLi) August 2, 2020
Hear me out…
When marketing leaders remove social media guru and wizard from their vernacular, they can get to work strengthening their relationship with the social team, filling in knowledge gaps and ultimately getting better results for their business.
Not sure what professional social media management looks like? Consider starting with some initial research! Read up on the difference between social managers and community managers, or hit up #MarketingTwitter to hear from social marketers directly. You’d be surprised at the answers you’ll find when you search up questions like “what does a social media manager do?”
If you find you still have questions around the ins and outs of social marketing, then reach out to a social media manager. When you meet with your social media team, come with a list of specific questions you have, like what skills are most valuable for their role or what challenges they frequently encounter. Learning about the specifics of what your social media manager does and help you replace phrases like ‘social media wizard’ with creator, analyst, strategist and more.
Whew! When Social Media Coordinator/Manager/Specialist really means:
CHARGE PEOPLE FOR ALL THOSE JOBS!
— Α. Walton Smith (@GoesByWalton) October 5, 2020
Removing words like “magic” from your vocabulary also creates space for productive conversations around how social media can support your broader marketing efforts. “Magic,” for example, doesn’t indicate how much money is needed for paid campaigns or how many creative assets are needed for a month’s worth of content. And it doesn’t tell you if there’s a staffing issue that’s creating bandwidth concerns for the social team. Knowing the time and resources needed for certain tasks can help managers overseeing social teams better plan and manage workloads to protect social marketers from burnout.
When leaders and social teams are on the same page, it can lead to greater collaboration and even stronger performance results. Marketing leaders, for example, are better equipped to ask for the metrics and recommendations that will move the needle on business goals. And social teams can ask for the resources and support they need without feeling like they have to re-educate their leaders on what it is they actually do.
Demystifying the social marketer’s role starts when leaders are able to answer the question “what does a social media manager do?” without using words like magic, wizard or guru. By eliminating those phrases from your vernacular, you stand to empower your social team and create opportunities for bigger and better collaborations.
Looking for more inspiration on how to empower and grow your social team? Check out our article on what to look for when hiring a new social manager and how to successfully onboard them onto your team.
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