Not to make anyone feel old, but we're a good 20 or 25 years into the social media era (shoutout to Tom from MySpace if you're reading this). Still, with so many scrolls, likes, and bios behind us, a lot of us harbor a perpetual feeling of self-doubt—are we doing this right? That's not just a dilemma of the individual. Brands, including those in e-commerce, can feel unsure of when and how to use their social channels.
To make all of us a little more confident and equipped, JR Curley, the Vice President of Brand Marketing for Fab Fit Fun, joined The Creative Operations Podcast. He might not admit to this, but JR has the social know-how to guide us through today's high standards for connecting with an audience.
Ready to hear JR's full chat with podcast host Daniel Jester? You should. Check it out on Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or ourwebsite. To get only a few of the takeaways, though, read on.
Social Media is the Internet is Real Life
No, that's not a typo. JR says the pandemic has exacerbated a blurring effect that makes all of the internet a form of social media and accepts that for many people, the old "IRL" has caved to a digitized truth: this is about as real as it gets. "There are several people out there now who actually engage more with social media than they actually do with human beings in real life," JR says.
This era of isolation has made social channels something JR calls a person's "getaway", adding that "it's the way they can get away from everything that's happening and just engage with somebody, whether it be a brand or a real person."
Whether that notion sounds fair or bleak to you, there's no doubt it ups the pressure on eCommerce brands to show not just products but also humanity. "I think we're going to get to a space where engagement with people on social media is just engaging with people the same way we used to talk to people in person," JR says.
Your Social Strategy Should Lend a Listening Ear
Dealing with an audience desperate for connection, you can't just talk at people. Your brand might be the only voice interacting with them for some part of their day. So you need two-way communication and your best possible listening skills.
What does it mean to listen? As JR puts it, there are two ways to do it. The first, inactive listening, is more about observation and understanding. Use your analytics to interpret your audience and know what matters to them.
That has its merits—it's dignifying to care about people enough to learn about their desires—but it's not the only way to hear someone. The second form, JR explains, is active listening "where you're truly engaging with that individual through your social channels and having those open conversations to get some of this information."
"Some companies go above and beyond and will respond to you directly," JR says. "And we all know that direct response from a brand, marketing company, influencer, or a channel—it elicits an immediate emotional response."
Social Media Manager is No Longer an Entry-Level Job
As Daniel points out, a lot of e-commerce brands still view their social media manager role as an entry-level gig. That would be rational except for the fact that this person has near-unanimous power over the way your brand is perceived.
"It would almost be like if we said, 'Hey for you, we're going to hire someone to represent you, and we're going to fly them across the globe and talk to people you don't know yet. And every time they speak to that person, they're going to have to have the same positive reaction about who you are.' That's a lot of risk and that's a really difficult thing to do, to be able to speak to all these different people and different cultures and different tones of voice and language that resonates and feels correct and authentic and doesn't feel pitchy and salesy."
Today the role deserves its due as an owner of your brand voice in the forums where perception is being formed most (not to mention its newfound pressure to potentially serve as a close confidante to members of your customer base!).
"Being a social media manager now can be incredibly complex and ties directly into performance for a company," JR says. "So there's a lot of risk for the company—depending on how they leverage the social media manager—that goes to that social media manager, and the social media manager is really controlling the way your brand or company is talking to your members and people who don't even know you."
To us that doesn't sound like a menial gig for a fresh-faced college grad. Take the role seriously, budget accordingly, and do a real talent search instead of hiring your uncle's neighbor's buddy who knows how to add a hashtag to a caption.
The interpersonal pressure in this role has never been higher. So, across your entire studio and marketing teams, show some love to the social media manager.
For JR and Daniel's full banter on how brands match different tones to various social media platforms, as well as some fun regressions into Second Life and Red Dead Redemption, catch the pod on Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or oursite.