To most of the billions of people who use social media applications to keep in touch with friends and family members, social media marketing might seem like a pretty easy gig. It’s certainly proving to be an exciting career, especially for newcomers.
But it isn’t as easy or straightforward as people are inclined to believe. Despite the “social media skills” that more than 90 percent of millennials are able to claim, thousands of young marketers who have tried their hand at social media marketing have ended up failing, quitting or getting completely overwhelmed by the demands of the job.
Consider the nine biggest problems that new, young social marketers face, and how they can be overcome.
Challenges for new marketers
If you’re entering the social media marketing arena for the first time, these are the nine biggest challenges you are likely to encounter:
- Knowing where to start: It’s your first day on the job. Great. So where do you begin? If you’re a new employee on a big team, you’ll likely get training and direction from your superiors, but for a small or midsized business, you might have significantly more autonomy right from the start than you’re accustomed to getting. That autonomy can be a good thing for job satisfaction, but if you’re inexperienced, it could also be overwhelming.
- Aligning with the voice of the brand: You might be used to updating your personal social media accounts regularly and without any fears, coming up with dozens of new posts per day, but you can’t employ that same voice for the company that hired you. It takes time and care to adapt your social media voice so that it fits with your company’s audience and goals.
- Interruptions in daily life: Being a social media manager, for most companies, means being available to read and respond to customer inquiries throughout the day, and even during off-hours. Bigger firms may be able to support multiple team members and a clear hierarchy of hours to be dedicated to customer service. But even there, you may be interrupted in your personal life by emergencies and posts that require immediate response. Over time, that can create stress and more interruptions, which, in turn may have an effect on your sleep schedule, downtime and overall health.
- Coordination with others: If you’re working as part of a team, you might have difficulty adjusting to the coordination that successful execution will require. Social media teams have to brainstorm together, write together and depend on one another. That can involve a lot of redundancy, occasional miscommunications and outright mistakes if you’re new to the process.
- Budgeting: You’ll also spend a considerable amount of time budgeting when you’re a social media marketer—both in terms of dollars (where to allocate your ad budget) and hours (how you spend your time). If you’re not used to that environment and you don’t have any raw data to guide your initial decisions, this can be stressful and unproductive.
- Targeting: Targeting can also be a problem for new social marketers, who gravitate toward writing posts and submitting ads that appeal to as many people as possible. In general, it’s better to write targeted posts that zero in on a specific demographic that’s better-suited to the company’s goals than to cast a wide net and reduce your individual relevance.
- Growth plateaus: It’s not uncommon for new social marketers to see a growth spike following their arrival—especially if there wasn’t a social team in action before that. However, any spike rarely sustains a trend of continued growth. Instead, your tricks and strategies tend to reach a hard growth limit and eventually plateau. Breaking above that plateau entails inventive thinking and results-driven strategies, which are in short supply among amateurs.
- Measurable results: Everything in social media has to be tied back to a measurable result. Otherwise, it won’t matter how many followers you have or how often people like you. Newcomers, who often gravitate toward vanity metrics such as follower counts and response rates, may find it challenging to adjust to measurements based on conversions and return on investment. This may require a shift in your overall philosophy and the adoption of new tactics to execute it.
- Competition: You aren’t the only social media marketer out there. The entire millennial generation has substantial experience with social media platforms and, unfortunately, there isn’t a wealth of social media jobs for everyone to fill. Competition may be your biggest challenge, since it represents an active threat to your position and a pressing need to keep improving, long after your probationary work period.
Is the career right for you?
Merely enjoying social media and being plugged in to the social media universe isn’t enough to be successful in a social marketing career. On the other hand, the challenges described above aren’t so difficult that they can be impossible for newcomers to manage.
The secret to being a successful social marketer isn’t preventing or avoiding any problems, but being able to anticipate their arrival and working proactively to meet them with the quality and focus of your work. If you’re up for the challenge, this career may be perfect for you.