Have you ever been at a party and learned that someone was a comedian? Did you ask him or her to tell you a joke? Then you’re that guy.
If you work in social media, you’ve encountered at least one of these following questions at a social gathering or networking event. While many of them would be considered highly offensive when asked to someone of another profession, they’re somehow acceptable in emerging areas like social media marketing. Take note of the questions and more importantly why we would love for you never to ask us any of them again.
1. “Social media, is that your ‘real’ job?”
What they mean to ask most of the time is ‘do you do this for a living?’. But it comes out worse than an episode of Dads. Because the activity is seen as recreational to the vast majority of people, they find it hard to believe there can be enough substance here to warrant a full-time position.
2. “So do you just tweet and post all day?”
Regardless of your unfamiliarity with a job, any job, you should expect that there are several duties and responsibilities encompassed within it. While ‘tweeting’ and posting is often the output of our hard work, it’s only a drop in the bucket when it comes to everything a social media manager does. In fact, as the role continues to grow in acceptance at organizations, more layers are added and the social media manager role does less and less of this posting, and more strategy.
3. “How many likes can you get for this?”
That’s like asking a professional basketball player how many points he can score. This question probably makes me roll my eyes further than any other, because of how many things are wrong with it. #1 It depends on a variety of factors, none of which I want to get into because this is my work. #2 ‘Likes’ are not the measure of success in social #3 What do you expect to get out of this? I say a number, and you decide whether or not that makes me worthy. No one metric should be used to judge the effectiveness of a social media manager.
4. “What’s your long-term outlook, after the social media fad passes?”
Calling my profession a passing fad is one of the quickest ways to get me to fake a phone call or illness and get as far away from you as possible. Yes, this is a viable career path. Yes, there are opportunities for growth and progression. Do you remember when universities used to teach classes called ‘Online Marketing’? Those classes are now simply called ‘Marketing’ and for good reason. These are legitimate communication channels and they are not going anywhere. My long-term outlook is to squash questions like this from being asked, my short term plan is to get away from you.
5. “So I’m starting a business.. can you tell me how to do what you do?”
Do you ask a doctor to teach you how to remove a growth? Maybe it’s an extreme example, but essentially you’re asking us to impart all of our knowledge and learnings, then come up with a customized strategy for your specific business. Oh, and you’re asking for all of this for free. Most of us are available for consultation, respect our craft and our time enough to schedule time to chat like you would any other advisor or expert.
Avoiding these questions is the easiest way to keep the social media manager engaged in your conversation. By tweaking what you’re asking or choosing your time more wisely, you’ll even get the answer to the question you’re after and maybe more.