Facebook has come a long way since the days of “The Facebook” and the obligatory “is” in all status updates. But what if Facebook never changed? What if you still had to belong to one of few college networks, or what would you do if the Facebook “wall” didn’t exist? Chances are, if Facebook never changed and updated, it would never have become the giant medium that it is today. And if you never change or update your social media strategy, you will never see your brand’s full potential realized.
The title of “social media manager” is a blanket term that applies to anyone who implements the brand’s social media strategy, develops brand awareness, increases inbound traffic and promotes product or service adoption. But to reach your company’s apex of social media presence, you should really be a social media leader.
So what’s the difference in a social media manager and a social media leader? The answer is simple: Look at the root words behind “manager” and “leader.”
Manage: Be in charge of (a company, establishment, or undertaking); administer; run.
Lead: Verb — Cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc., while moving forward. Noun — The initiative in an action; an example for others to follow.
Now the difference is clear. A social media manager simply completes day-to-day tasks that, while they do better the brand, are not tasks that will take it to the next level. A social media leader is someone who is constantly researching to find his or her brand’s big social media break. A social media leader spots trends in the field before they have gone mainstream. A social media leader implements a strategy that has never been done before. A social media leader is the initiative in an action and makes his or her brand’s social media presence the example for others to follow.
There have been many great social media leaders to date. While we may not know them by name, we can recognize them by brand and know that a flesh-and-bone human is behind the genius strategy that helped boost that brand’s presence.
One current example of a company clearing a new path for social media campaign strategy is Jell-O’s “Fun My Life” campaign.
In an effort to turn some of the most self-pitying Twitter users into happy, Jell-O eating customers, Jell-O is offering free Jell-O to certain people who use the popular #FML hashtag in their sad, “depressing” tweets. This tongue-in-cheek campaign is redefining the acronym FML—originally standing for “Fudge” (wink wink) My Life—to represent “Fun My Life.”
A lot of social media marketing professionals are unsure if this campaign is a good strategy or not, but I find it genius. I think that this campaign is not only boosting Jell-O’s social media presence, customer engagement and brand awareness, but I think it could potentially redefine the Jell-O brand. When I think of Jell-O, I automatically think of a 95-year-old gray-haired woman with a gelatin cake at a family reunion. But Jell-O’s FML campaign completely changes that view. Since FML is such a trendy acronym, it redefines the Jell-O brand for me.
But great social media strategy doesn’t always involve a campaign. When UK-based feminine hygiene brand Bodyform received a snarky comment from a male on their Facebook page, they didn’t respond with a pre-written, “We’re sorry you had this issue. Please email us at *** so we can help resolve your problem.”
Instead, Carat, the media agency behind the genius response, brainstormed after noticing the post had racked up over 20,000 comments. They came up with this: a snarky, self-mocking video response that quickly had tons of YouTube views and customer response on Facebook.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Bpy75q2DDow]
But the content of the video is not what makes this a great example of social media leadership. The fact that Bodyform’s social media manager noticed this comment was racking up the “Likes” and instead of simply saying “Oh, that’s neat,” or replying with a standard message, decided to do something different makes him or her a social media leader.
One thing both of these examples have in common is that they push the envelope. They play on trends, remarks, satire and other elements that some might not consider “brand friendly,” but they turn them into a positive response. Social media leaders must not be afraid to test the waters on an idea that may not be met with the best reception at first. But if you develop a reputation as a leader, the easier it will be for others to trust your ideas and follow your path. Once you have developed a social media strategy, campaign, idea, response or other element that is on the forefront of trends or is completely new altogether, then you have become a social media leader.