Likes, comments, tweets, and shares—these are the benchmarks of social media posts. These are deciding factors that could make or break the online presence of a business and determine its potential success. With more and more people signing up for well-known social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, brands and businesses have almost no choice but to delve into social media in order to stay relevant and up-to-date with the latest trends.
Over the years, social media has expanded from being an avenue for fostering online connections between individuals, to serving as a medium for business owners to connect with their consumers. Because of this, social media managers are called in to analyze and oversee how a business should maintain its online presence and influence.
Making an impression
Allie Mañalac was first introduced to the field back in college when she took up an internship position in social media management. “I love the work and the challenge of [social media] constantly evolving, and it’s also the fact that I get the opportunity to be involved in creating and releasing content that people enjoy consuming,” she shares the aspects of the role that captured her interest.
Meanwhile, James Enilog reflects on the unconventional beginning of his career, “It started last July 2013 when I created [the] Twitter page @TagaLPU. Ewan ko kung bakit ako gumawa niyan, basta I know [it was] for the LPU (Lyceum of the Philippines University) community.” Through @TagaLPU, he provided updates regarding class suspensions and academic guidelines, as well as “added witty or straightforward comments [about] the school, at doon nag-start maging popular ‘yung page.”
(I don’t know why I made it exactly, just that I know it was for the LPU community. That’s when the page started becoming popular.)
After his initial success, James created his second, more popular Twitter account known as @ManilaHugots. From then on, he was asked to become the official manager of the social media pages of LPU.
Off the record
“Most people think [the] job is easy; [it’s] just using social media, and that’s it,” James maintains that the work of a social media manager is not simple, with their functions going beyond what people expect.
The well-constructed outputs that the audience sees on social media are only the tip of the iceberg, and there is a long checklist of work that goes on behind the scenes—including “content making, marketing, administering of the page, [and handling] customer service”, as James states.
Allie similarly points out, “Coming up with content is also more difficult than you’d imagine.” With social media being a more reaction-based platform, uploaded content must be clear, thoughtful, and entertaining. Additionally, one may have to handle multiple marketing campaigns or publicity initiatives at a time, which Allie admits “can get tricky to manage”.
For Dale Cruz, who works for local ridesharing application Angkas, there is added pressure to fulfill the role as a social media manager of a company known for its witty content. Another challenge is the “continued search for content that will be better than your previous ones,” he says. As such, there are days when he feels the need to stay off social media for a while “to unwind and decompress”.
Not often is it recognized that a job requiring constant exposure to social media can be a detriment in itself—taking a toll on one’s mental health. “Being too exposed to social media isn’t healthy, especially during this time [when] there’s no shortage of negativity,” Dale expresses.
With social media and its users involved in an ever-changing dynamic, the online trends that come with it arrive in a multitude of waves. The timelessness of each trend seems to rely on its relatability with the audience.
Social media managers and researchers are entrusted with the formidable task of predicting what the next big trend will be. Consequently, they have to ensure that their respective businesses are able to properly maintain their presence online. “We try to ride on online trends as much as we can, so we try to experiment with templates, filters, and a lot of in-season content that engage our audiences,” Allie admits.
Dale offers advice on the matter, focusing on being adaptive to feedback and change. “I think the best way to ensure this is to just keep yourself updated. You continue doing what works, and you stop what doesn’t. That’s simple,” he explains.
On a more complicated note, there is a looming possibility of dealing with online trolls. If and when this occurs, Dale believes that it is better to avoid them if possible because “they win if you give them your attention.” As for backlash and critics, he discusses, “Responding to them is not always a bad idea too, especially if you know your brand will be in a better position after that.”
In the midst of a turmoil
Now that the world faces a pandemic affecting every industry, the weight has fallen onto social media teams to keep their respective businesses running largely on online presence alone. Taking the circumstances into consideration often implicates the need for improvisation. Angkas, for instance, had to initiate an entirely new service to continuously support their bikers. “The pressure comes from the pace our team has to take to introduce this to everyone,” Dale discloses.
Posting content on social media is more challenging than usual during a time of crisis, as Allie emphasizes, “We wouldn’t want to come off as insensitive to the current situation, but at the same time, a lot of people turn to channels such as ours as a way of escape.” Given that, the personnel working behind the scenes have only become more critical and careful to ensure their content informs and reassures rather than adds to the growing anxieties.
The way companies respond to and interact with not only their customers but also societal events—be it unprecedented or not—heavily banks on the crucial job of social media handlers. It must be recognized that their roles do not simply end with stimulating posts, clever responses, or well-marketed products. Being content creators, they also influence how their audience and clients alike would see, absorb, and respond to the demands of the times, in a continuously-evolving landscape.