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The Hats We Wear
Diane Paik breaks down all the roles within her role as Senior Social Media Manager at Harry’s.
Talk to any social media professional, and they’ll likely tell you how social media isn’t really just social media. The job is more like 10 jobs, packaged up into one tidy title. And while I’ve seen a lot of memes and tweets about this—I’ve never really seen it fully expanded upon. What are all of the roles that social professionals take on within their job and how do they show up day to day? For this week’s newsletter, Diane Paik, Senior Social Media Manager at Harry’s and former social editor for i-D Magazine, is going to break down every single role within her role.
The goal of this exercise isn’t to complain about how much work social media professionals do. In fact, I think being able to wear so many hats attracts people (including Diane!) to the job in the first place. The point is that social media managers are often taking on this work, with no real investment from management, from both a monetary and team structure perspective. How can we make sure that social professionals get the support they need to execute across all of these roles? And how can managers do a better job setting expectations at the outset of a job? Below you’ll find a full breakdown of Diane’s job as Senior Social Media Manager at Harry’s. It’s also worth noting that while Harry's has a small (but mighty!) social team, Paik is currently working on creating sustainable structures to support all of these sub-roles within the company.
Company: Harry’s! We make razors for people that shave.
Size of social team: 2
Roles within social team: Senior Social Media Manager and Community Marketing Manager (+ a paid social intern starting this summer!!!).
Team social reports into: Creative Communications (we recently brought the Creative and Communications teams together since there’s so much cross-function that happens between the two teams, but I still function within the Communications lane.)
Sub-roles within Senior Social Media Manager job (in no particular order and non-exhaustive):
Social Media Manager
This is your classic SMM role: I manage all Harry’s brand’s content calendars, create social briefs for the creative team, ideate/concept content, work on social strategy, gather insights/data, have an understanding of influencers/creators and work with our Community Marketing Manager, know what’s trending/what’s about to trend, and really, just being the knowledgeable person when it comes to what’s going down on social media. At Harry’s, I oversee everything top-down when it comes to our organic socials.
Social without strategy is just posting random things and hoping it works (which yes, sometimes, you gotta do that), but if you mix in strategy, you can fine-tune which spaghetti you’re going to throw at the wall and really see what sticks. Strategy is all encompassing and honestly, something I thought I wasn’t very interested in when I started out. But really, it’s about looking for patterns, reading, and turning data into insights, and it can be extremely satisfying. I joined Harry’s to establish strategy that will shape our social identity and create the guardrails for our socials moving forward. It’s been hard work, but rewarding!
Copy is everywhere on socials and someone’s got to write it. Whether it’s social caption copy or copy for an infographic, there’s a lot to be written. I’ve found that a lot of people that work in social are writers, have studied English and/or Journalism (like me), or just have a general penchant for writing.
At Harry’s, this is actually the first time that I’ve worked closely with a Copywriter. It’s been amazing to have copy input for posts that require more lengthy language like a more formal/serious post or product launch information.
There’s also slightly different rules to writing social copy. As a social manager, you know what your social tone of voice should be and you’re tasked with taking the overall brand voice and translating that for the social audience. Here’s an example: while classic copywriting would have you write out numbers that are 1-10, in social, that rule sometimes goes out the door. If I’m trying to grab your attention mid-swipe, I need to say: “5 things you need to know about ___” not “Five things you need to know about ___.” It’s those tiny details that can get the viewer’s eye just a little bit faster and with more urgency.
I’ve also found myself being asked for input when it comes to executive communications that will live on socials. It’s been really reassuring to get tagged into documents and have the ability to tweak language to make it fit our platforms a bit better.
When social franchises (recurring series on social accounts) come into play (which is a mainstay for most brands, media companies, etc.), you often are the one creating the entire framework for it. So as a Producer, you set the tone for what it’s going to look like, who’s going to be in it, how it shows up on each social platform, budget management, etc. I fortunately look to our Creative Producer for support, input, and sometimes, the production is handed off to our CP at a certain point.
Every social media page, whether for an individual, an influencer, or brand, has a visual identity. Folks that work in social have a fairly heavy hand in that. Sometimes it’s created top-down, but often, the kind of visual packaging that works for, say, TV campaigns doesn't transfer the same for an Instagram page. Or often, there are creative campaigns for OOH (Out-of-home i.e. wheatpastings/posters) that need a social extension to breathe a different kind of life into it. While I work with our Creative Director to thread the needle, the concept and idea has to be created with social in mind. It’s great to have a counterpart in the creative lane to flesh ideas out and make them more dynamic.
I also generally work closely with our Digital Designer for day-to-day content creation. I offer references and give notes to bring whatever wacky thing I have in mind to life.
No one knows influencers, content creators, and the people other people are talking about online than you (the social person). Beyond just casting for social videos, you’re the person that’s on-the-ground to know what name is catching conversation on the world wide web. Pete Davidson? Sure, but how about Francis Bourgeois? You know, that British guy who’s obsessed with trains and his earnest interest in his hobby has caused him to go viral on TikTok and eventually land him a Gucci x The North Face campaign.
Also, to emphasize “scout” in Talent Scout, you have to have a keen eye for who’s up-and-coming. You’re often looking for the gut reaction of: “omg, this person is going to blow up. We need to get ahead and work with them.” It’s important to support these folks on the up, but it also takes risk and analysis. Vetting (and crystal ball-ing) is extremely an important part of casting anyone.
When we’re casting for our different influencers campaigns to social-first videos, knowing who to cast and why is crucial. Whether it’s personality, audience reach, budget, follower count, or name stay, all of these things and more go into consideration.
This is something I learned on the job. When I was the Social Producer for The Untitled Action Bronson Show at VICE, being able to edit video cut-downs for social was a part of the responsibilities, but a skill I didn’t have (yet). For Social Producers—especially—you need to have a sense of which clips to slice and dice for your social audience.
This skill of learning what to look for when creating cut-downs is something I still carry with me. I don’t edit videos myself anymore, but when I work with a video editor or a producer, I can give exact time codes for what I need and offer concise feedback. The ability to give clear direction on how lower-thirds come into play, the subtle timing and text size of subtitles, and so many other countless things have been an incredible (not so) secret weapon.
We have the best (the best!!!) Customer Experience team at Harry’s. They work with us in-house—which a lot of people don’t realize—and I can’t imagine it working any other way. This allows Social CX to be so much more cohesive and run in parallel instead of having to give direction to an outsourced agency.
So much of customer commentary is on socials now and an important aspect to our social strategy is how customer service comes into play on our platforms.
I work closely with the CX team to create guidelines for our customer experience voice, give the team a heads up for important posts dropping so they’re equipped (i.e. product launch, company statement), what and when to respond, and help manage any questions they may have when we get some messages where responses aren’t so cut and dry.
This is definitely some of the toughest parts of the job. As a senior leader at Harry’s, I’m often in the room with my Comms Director, the Executive Comms team, our PR lead, and a few others when it comes to handling external messages to give guidance on what the right method and messaging is. There’s rarely an exact playbook for “what to do when ____ this happens” so a lot of it is based on experience, learnings, and knowing what’s been done before (more precisely, what other brands did wrong).
We’re fully in the “notes app apology” era or brands having to make important statements on social platforms, so having a social person there is absolutely crucial.
While our brand team works hard to develop new products as well as create marketing plans, my job is to bring that to life on socials. I create social campaigns for product launches, exciting new design announcements, contribute the social element for 360 campaigns, and more. So with these directives in mind, I work to create a social-forward marketing plan that puts the product and business at the forefront. Getting into a marketing sales mindset is an important muscle to flex while keeping in mind what works for your social audience (how many times can I say “works for your social audience” lol).
Social Media Manager does not always = Content Creator!
I’d like to think I have a pretty good eye and can take fairly decent photos/videos, but I am not necessarily a Content Creator. That’s why we bring in creators and influencers as they have a very particular skill (and following).
That said, I’m sure a lot of folks in social can relate to the need to create content yourself. Like capturing scenes on a shoot to put together for a Reel or creating first-person TikToks. My background and the different work experiences I’ve had have certainly helped me to fake it as a Creator, but I still like to emphasize one more time for the people in the back: being a person that work in social does not make you an automatically available Content Creator.
Final thoughts: There are probably a few more “hats” that I left out, but for the day-to-day, I hope you get the picture. These sub-roles don’t exist in a vacuum—they co-exist with each other, work cross-functionally and are translated via the lane of social. The story I’m trying to tell is that it takes a village and I rarely do it alone. I’m extremely grateful to all my cross-functional partners and all that we do together. (Sorry for sounding like a Golden Globes speech!)
I hope more companies invest in social teams as it’s impossible to expect great things on Instagram or say, TikTok, when there are so little resources dedicated to it. I feel extremely lucky to be in a position now to help create those resources and work at a place that supports that—but this is often a rare experience.
I also wish Social Managers and anyone else that works in social would get the acknowledgement they deserve for all that goes into posting a silly meme to planning a robust social campaign. It seems like brands, media outlets, companies, etc. have evolved to understand that social is more than just posting an Instagram photo, but there’s a ways to go. Posting that single Instagram photo takes a ton of time and skill—we just make it look easy. 💅
Check out the Link in Bio job board!
Credit Karma is hiring a Social Media Copywriter. This is honestly a very exciting role! We talk a lot about how social media managers do 10 different jobs in one so it’s encouraging to see more specialized social media roles pop up. Seems like a great job for someone who loves the caption-writing, brand voice, storytelling side of social media. Get more info about applying here.
Plaza is hiring a Creator Community & Partnerships Manager. Cool job for someone who wants to get involved (early on!) with a company that’s changing the game when it comes to video and social commerce. This role is sort of social media adjacent, so ideal for someone who has a background in social but maybe wants to get out of the day-to-day posting side of it all. Get more info about applying here.
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