Nowadays, social media is a bonafide communications and marketing tool. In turn, social roles are available in all kinds of industries and organizations. But since the profession is still relatively new, expectations for social media coordinators are ever-changing.
However, core responsibilities are pretty similar anywhere you go. The major differentiation is where these roles are combined with other marketing, communications and/or customer service duties.
I analyzed 20 different job postings for entry-level social media coordinators across Canada to understand how employers are currently defining this role and their expectations for what coordinators should be capable of.
These employers ranged from retail companies to entertainment organizations to broadcasters. All of these jobs had the title of “Social Media Coordinator/Specialist” only with nothing else attached.
After understanding these expectations, you can equip yourself with the education, experience, and knowledge to land your first job in social media.
These were the common responsibilities cited for social media coordinators:
- Content creation
- Cross-coordination with other departments
- Community engagement and customer service
- Managing influencer partnerships
- Analyze and report on metrics
- Staying on top of best practices
“Content” these days is no longer just a still photo taken with your iPhone and uploaded with a cool filter.
As social platforms provided greater options for the content we can post, our idea of social content has diversified. And so have the expectations for what social media coordinators should post.
Every employer expects social coordinators to create “content”. At the highest level, that means brainstorming what content to create to promote company priorities such as a new product launch or upcoming event.
Expect to also write the copy for the posts, which is where a communications background that teaches you how to get your point across in as few words as possible comes in handy.
Then, you may be somewhat or fully responsible for creating graphic content. Some teams will have a dedicated graphic designer but other teams won’t, or the existing designer doesn’t do any social work.
With social platforms providing so many different options for content, with their own rules around video runtime, photo dimensions, etc., you may be unnerved by the feeling you have to be an expert at everything.
Take a deep breath and a step back. When applying to a company, get familiar with the social platforms they’re using and what kind of content they post. You may not be an expert at making TikTok videos right now and that’s okay as many companies aren’t on that platform.
Or maybe you’ve never made the jump to Twitter. Create a burner account and fiddle around with it for an afternoon. It won’t take too long to get comfortable with.
Cross-coordination with other departments
A lot of organizations use their social media as a bulletin board (not the best approach, but let’s not get into that right now). That means anything happening at an organization gets plastered on social media. New hires, upcoming webinars, product updates, and more.
Since most people are never going to come across a press release or bother to visit a website regularly unless they have to, social is seen as the most efficient way to update an audience on what’s going on.
To get this information online when it is timely and will make the greatest impact, coordinators need to stay in touch with different departments and collect essential assets from them.
Social media coordinators are also often the first line of defense when something has gone wrong. If the website is down or someone received the wrong product in the mail – they will head to social media to complain.
Coordinators need to know whom to contact to resolve the issue as soon as possible if they cannot solve the issue on their own.
When you start your new role, you need to quickly understand the functions of each department related to customer-facing activities and get to know the department point person who will assist you.
Community engagement and customer service
Earlier, I mentioned how some companies use their social accounts as a bulletin board. This is a fundamental flaw in how social media should be used. Social should be social. That means a back-and-forth engagement with your audience.
Conversing with your audience and crafting posts around what they want to see rather than what you want them to see falls under “community engagement”. This term might be unfamiliar if you haven’t worked in social yet because it doesn’t get a ton of use outside of this profession (though it applies to non-social media work as well).
Nowadays, most feeds aren’t chronological anymore and platforms such as Facebook have made an active effort to push down brand posts and boost posts from your friends instead.
But when brand posts do get seen, it’s because people are highly engaged with the post. Algorithms reward all this engagement by showing this post to more people. That’s why follower counts are becoming increasingly irrelevant. An account with 30,000 followers but zero likes on their posts is making no noise.
To me, what’s at the core of good social media isn’t cah-razy ideas or flashy content… it’s the community management—the decidedly un-sexy daily interactions with your audience. I think to be really good at social media you have to genuinely want to connect with people.
— siân (@sharnacious) September 14, 2020
Organizations have learned community engagement is massively important to social media management these days, and that is why the term is being included in their job descriptions.
Then there are companies that sell consumer goods or provide services – they know inquiries or complaints can come in through social.
That means the social person who is fielding all these questions and concerns should have a strong knowledge of the best customer service practices. (Years of working part-time in the service industry certainly pays off here!)
Basically, you are expected to know how to converse with people while maintaining the integrity of your organization and speaking with the brand voice.
Managing influencer partnerships
Many organizations are turning to influencers to get their products seen by their target audience.
While the influencer market is becoming more saturated, they are still seen as more trustworthy and relatable to their devoted audience than a massive brand pushing their own products (obviously).
Since influencers operate mainly on social, some employers expect the social media coordinator to facilitate these relationships.
Managing influencer partnerships can involve finding the influencers, reaching out to them, and explaining the organization’s expectations for the partnership.
From that point on, it’s also up to the coordinator to monitor the influencer and reshare their content, and engage with them when they post about your organization.
Analyze and report on metrics
When it comes to measuring the direct impact of organic social media, there are a lot of challenges. How can you be sure eight thousand likes on an Instagram post really translated to a sale?
As e-commerce abilities have been integrated into some platforms, this measurement is becoming more conclusive. And then there are paid social advertisements, which coordinators are often expected to manage no paid digital/ads experts exist on their team. In those cases, you will be able to connect an ad to a sale and have a clearer understanding of what content is working.
It’s crucial to analyze and report on social metrics, organic or paid, regularly. And organizations want to see these results because it is the clearest demonstration of the impact of your work.
Every social platform provides social analytics to brand accounts, though the quality of these analytics will vary across platforms. In some cases, organizations use third-party software or tools to gather better numbers and have analysis conducted through the platform itself rather than manually.
Many employers expect coordinators to know how to access analytical information, analyze it and come to helpful conclusions that will inform their future efforts.
Staying on top of best practices
As mentioned before, social media is always changing! Just look at what has already happened in the last year. Twitter introduced Spaces, LinkedIn brought in Stories and Instagram updated its interface to push its Shopping feature.
It is super important for social coordinators to always stay on top of these changes and figure out how to maximize them to meet their organization’s goals.
Employers are seeking coordinators who will maintain a constant awareness of how social platforms are evolving. Not just in terms of new features, but also in how they treat brand accounts. Changes to algorithms or how brands can market themselves can happen at any given moment and have a massive impact on your organization.
Coordinators should stay on top of these changes as they occur to seize possible opportunities or rethink strategies that will no longer work as effectively.
What about my educational background?
Social media management is not commonly taught in post-secondary schools across Canada as a standalone program. Most of the time, it is integrated into communications and marketing programs.
And if you don’t learn about social in school, you’re probably self-taught. That means literally doing it all on your own through your personal accounts or taking online courses.
For that reason, employers are rarely picky regarding the education they’d prefer candidates to have.
So, some job postings did not state any education requirements while others asked for degrees in communications, marketing, journalism, English, design, or public relations. This is to be expected seeing as how a social media role can call upon the skills learned in any of these subject areas.
What will earn me brownie points?
Whew, a social media coordinator really needs to know a lot! But guess what? There are even more skills that fall under the realm of social.
In the job postings analyzed, organizations would mention certain skills that are not required but employers are interested to know you possess them.
These are the most common bonus skills employers in Canada are looking for:
- SEO knowledge
- Graphic design
- Video editing
- Website management
Is social media the right path for you?
Now that you have a better sense of the expectations for social media coordinators, you can decide if it’s the right path for you.
The most important trait for a social media coordinator is agility. Social media is constantly changing and platforms are becoming stuffed with more capabilities than we even want to use. (Sorry, Fleets but I’m just not that into you). You have to be able to hop on these trends quickly because platforms push their new features harder than their existing ones and the best time to strike is right at the beginning.
You also need to be creative because you will be coming up with new content almost every day and, after some time, it will be difficult not to be repetitive.
So if you want a job where nothing ever changes and you know exactly what each day will be like – social is not the work you should be doing.
But if you like being constantly challenged and are not afraid to fail a lot until you figure out exactly what your audience responds to – then social is for you.