The role of social media manager has recently become one of the most important aspects of successful brands today.

Unfortunately, it is also one of the most overlooked.

Many marketers are thrust into the role without truly understanding what an effective social presence actually looks like.

That being said, the benefits of being an effective social media manager are three-fold:

  • Strengthening your brand identity, ultimately creating messages that signal what you and your business represent
  • Grow your following: when you actually create and share the content your audience wants, getting Instagram followers or more engagement on Facebook is a cinch
  • You open the lines of communication between you and your customers, making it easier to keep in contact

Given that approximately half of all people follow their favorite brands and businesses via social, it’s up to savvy social media managers to keep followers engaged. Doing so, however, is easier said than done and is often an uphill battle for those who don’t know what they’re doing.

If you think that blasting your own content or copycatting someone else in your industry is going to cut it, perhaps it’s time to rethink your strategy.

So, what should modern social media managers be doing to stand apart from the pack?

1. Let Your Personality Shine

It may seem cliche to say “be yourself’ via social, but it’s so important that managers find their voices sooner rather than later. While playing it safe might be tempting, the fact remains that your content and message will get lost in the shuffle if you don’t define your personality from the word “go.”

That’s exactly how fast food brands such as Arby’s have gone absolutely viral in recent months.Their creative, humor-driven content attracts millions of followers alongside likes and shares by the boatload:

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Similarly taking advantage of humor are brands such as Old Spice, who often share bizarre videos to put a creative spin on advertising their product:

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Injecting personality into your social presence doesn’t have to be a big production, either. Check out how JetBlue uses a topical hashtag to give their followers a wink:


You’ll notice that many of the most popular brands on social often take a humorous or light-hearted tone to their feeds. Why?

People don’t want to exclusively be sold to: they want to know that they’re interacting with flesh-and-blood people. Humor’s perhaps the easiest way to break the ice.

The key takeaway is not to just hammer your followers with deals and sales pitches. The occasional joke or “storytime” post can go a long way from burning your followers out with products.

2. Serve Some Social Customer Service

About two-thirds of people use social media to ask for support from brands and businesses.

Sadly, many of those questions or concerns go unanswered.

One of the biggest benefits of social media is the direct line of communication between you and your customers. While the idea of being connected may be daunting, companies today are expected to respond to their customers’ concerns sooner rather than later. In fact, approximately 42% of people expect a response from brands within an hour.

Customer service via social media takes many forms; meanwhile, sometimes it is difficult to keep a straight face in the midst of complaints. Companies such as T-Mobile are regularly bombarded with complaints but act with composure:

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Another way to use social media as a customer service tool is by responding to customer inquiries. This is likewise a great chance to show off your personality. For example, Starbucks regularly goes back-and-forth to answer customer questions via Instagram:


The days of waiting for email responses and phone calls are over. In a way, social media replaced traditional “help” lines. For example, Shutterstock uses their Twitter as means of getting directly in touch with customers with issues:

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Marketers simply can’t afford to ignore the needs of their customers, especially since social represents public forum. The ability to respond in a snap is often a win-win for businesses and customers alike, holding social managers accountable and likewise showing that your business cares enough to respond in a timely manner.

3. Post More “Behind the Scenes” Content

Social media managers need to provide their followers with a why.

That is, why are you worth following on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?

Brands that are willing to take their followers “behind the scenes” not only show off their personal side, but give their feeds something extra other than purely promotional content.

For example, Warby Parker regularly posts photos of customer interactions which their followers absolutely love:

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Photos which show off company teams and employees traditionally receive more shares. Company culture matters, and that’s why photos like this one are popular for companies like Southwest.

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Remember: your social posts don’t need to directly relate to your products or bottom line.

4. Integrate User-Generated Content ASAP

Speaking of which, user-generated content is taking the world by storm and is something that all social media managers should strive to curate. From positive feedback to photos featuring followers using your products, UGC is a great way to diversify your content strategy.

Not only that, but UGC also shows that you’re willing to pay close attention to your followers. Look how Sharpie shows some love to their creative fans who use their line of products:


Showing off products in real-world settings makes them feel more real for followers, which is why fashion brands like Swatch constantly use their followers as their best ads:


Curating UGC doesn’t have to be rocket science or anything inherently complicated. Something as simple as asking for a selfie can do the trick (as is the case for Hipmunk):

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Not all UGC has to be image-based, either. Positive comments or “thumbs up” posts represent excellent forms of social proof that signal you keep your followers’ opinions close to your heart. Check out how these retweets from Hipmunk represent powerful branding tools:

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Before blasting the same old blog post or sharing something you’ve shared a million times before, think about how you can incorporate UGC into your social feeds.

5. Don’t Just Talk About Yourself

If there’s a lesson to be learned from the power of user-generated content, it’s that you can’t expect to be purely self-promotional.

There’s the established 80/20 rule that states that only one-in-five of your social posts should include a CTA while others should be “interesting” to followers. There’s also the rule of thirds which says that one-third of your content should be promotional, one-third personal and the last third shared from others.

For example, Hubspot regularly posts and retweets articles from the around the web that are relevant to their audience:


The takeaway here is not to be afraid to show others in your industry some love. Whether it’s influencers or other big players in your space, it’s crucial to position yourself as an active participant in your industry. After all, nobody wants to just listen to you talk about yourself all day.

6. Rely on Some Tools

If you’re breaking your back trying to chase your followers and keep up with everything manually, you’re going to have a rough time. Social media managers need to understand the tools of the trade when it comes to wrangling their social presence.

Beyond social alert tools to keep track of who’s discussing your brand, social managers should take advantage of the wealth of opportunities to schedule posts in advance. This allows businesses to hit all of the optimal times to post on social media without being a million places at once (below is an example of Sprout Social’s scheduling solution):


For those strapped for cash, Tweetdeck’s free solution is less robust but still a good way to get started with scheduling:


Although you can’t be everywhere at once, such tools help managers from running a haphazard social strategy that’s all over the place in terms of timing.

7. Be Authentic When It Counts

Simply put, it pays to remind your followers that there’s someone behind the keyboard. Through emotional and motivational content, you can do exactly that.

AirBNB does a prime job of posting content that’s emotionally charged to tug the heartstrings of their followers, definitely coming across as anything but promotional:


Meanwhile, motivational photos such as this one from Hubspot are a subtle but significant touch to give followers an emotional boost:

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The idea of self-promotion and putting on a suit and tie doesn’t work on social media anymore (not that it ever did). As a common thread between most of these tips, personality is key.

What Does a Successful Social Media Manager Look Like to You?

Effective running your social presence is about much more than promotional posts and dreams of going viral. Instead, consider how you can refine and tweak your content strategy to tap into the human element of your brand and its followers. Creating communities and relevant content is what ultimately will set your feed apart from the competition.