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Debunking the Myth that “Anyone” Can Manage Social Media

How to Be an Effective Social Media Manager for a Brand or Company

Debunking the Myth that “Anyone” can manage social media

Let’s talk about social media. 

More poignantly, let’s talk about deconstructing the antiquated perception that social media management in a professional capacity is “something the receptionist can do” (or the lazy, sexist trope of “the owner’s niece”). 

As with most things these days, I was inspired to have this conversation because of a TikTok rabbit hole. My FYP is filled to the brim with all sides of TikTok (iykyk), but the VA side of TikTok has been dominating the feed.

The “you don’t have to have any experience at all to make money as a social media manager” side of TikTok. 

I agree with this…to a point. But I also vehemently disagree with it for the rest of the points.

Yes. It’s true. Anyone can post on social media. Have you seen your uncle’s posts lately?!

No. It’s not true. Everyone cannot post on social media effectivelyEven people with personal brand careers on social media. (Yes. I said it.)

How to be an effective social media manager for a company or brand requires knowledge of so many overlooked components that someone with “no experience” will fail to grasp.

Effective social posts pass through a number of cross-functional lenses

  • Does this align with brand values and mission?
  • Does this align with established goals for product sales?
  • Does this align with fundraising efforts/messaging?
  • Does this align with and support growth KPIs?
  • Does this align with PR and partnership efforts?

The Brand Mouthpiece

It’s not inflammatory to claim that social media is the mouthpiece of the brand. It is. 

Social media establishes itself, and is most interpreted as, the “person” of the brand through the content that a social media manager publishes to the platform(s) of choice. It feels less cold and sterile for someone to slide into the DMs than it does to fill out a contact form or respond to a newsletter. Tell me I’m wrong. I’ll wait. 

Having built and managed integrated marketing efforts in both capacities (personal brand + brand-brands) for nearly fifteen years, I can tell you, for certain, without a wink, blink or hesitation, that customers are the most boldly responsive, outspoken and empowered on social media.

Here’s an unlikely example:

In an ecosystem I managed at a CPE provider for CPAs (that’s continued professional education for accountants…target demo….accountants), our MarCom distribution channels were primarily email and traditional snail mail (90%) with the introduction of a social media experience (10%). 

Guess which channel garnered the highest response rate? Social media. An industry whose average age is 44 was most receptive on Twitter and Instagram once those channels were introduced as options. This was a legacy company, in business for 25+ years when I joined the team, with very high customer retention. The new and especially returning customers found the brand accessible and approachable. Despite the extensive infrastructure we had in place to handle customer care, the DMs were the avenue of choice for a good number of customers to receive assistance in registering for online courses or multi-day resort conferences. This called for an intrinsic synchronicity between the customer care team and the marketing team to maintain continuity in messaging, support, and to avoid confusion. If the social media manager missed a DM, before responding, it was important to connect with the customer care manager to determine if that customer had been taken care of and vice versa. 

Which leads pretty nicely into the next point about effectiveness in managing social media: response time. 

The marketing channel that's "always on"

The beauty of social media is that everyone uses it in ways that best fit with their lifestyle and schedule. 

The beast of social media is that everyone uses it in ways that best fit with their lifestyle and schedule.

This can become a real challenge if you’re not prepared for it internally.

Let’s walk through a support scenario that happens more often than you think: 

A customer has made an error while placing their late night, weekend order. The customer expects the brand account to respond first. Their job is just “hanging out on social” right? Surprise! They’ll actually DM the brand account, wait a few minutes/an hour for a response. When they do not get one, they simultaneously DM the founder, publicly tweet and send individual emails to every email address they can find on the contact page of the website. They unknowingly (and sometimes willingly) start The Fire™️. 

The Fire™️ is the sense of urgency that makes everyone in the organization’s stomachs drop when it shouldn’t. Customers usually don’t know the ripple effect of this approach, but there are ways to fail-safe it internally. The key? Comms visibility and curiosity. In a 2017 report, it was determined that 72% of consumers expect the person contacting them to know who they are, what they’ve purchased and have insight on previous interactionsCheck where you keep track of  customer support notes and ask around to your team before diving in to save the day. We all know that if someone ordered the shirt in green instead of blue that they are not in a realm of danger that requires a first-responder grade reaction, right? 

It’s also important to establish a proper expectation with customers when it comes to communication. I advise clients often to understand what that looks like on an internal level so no one department or function is sabotaging the success of another. I also advise that once lightning fast, realtime, within seconds replies are established, it’s very hard to condition it to be anything else.

Quick, timely, and informed is always the goal but does not equate to THESECONDTHEMESSAGECOMESTHROUGHSOHELPMEGOD.

The Lasting PsychoSocial effect

Marketing, in every form, is rooted in psychology. To be truly effective at reaching customers or building communities or encouraging the purchase of products on social media, it’s imperative to understand people as people. Not as archetypes or personas, but as individual people with unique factors that contribute to how they experience content and what moves them to action. 

A major oversight I see often is the dismissal of the psychosocial effects of social media on people. It has intrinsically and significantly altered the ways in which we conduct ourselves, perceive information, respond to content, and interact with brands. Even ten years ago, you never had a “direct line” to engage with Nike. Now you do in the palm of your hand. There is a biological shift that has taken place in our brains that has reestablished a baseline understanding of what accessibility is to these previously untouchable, consumer monoliths. 

The reality is that I can see an adorable picture of my niece who lives in another state, double tap it, and leave an adoring comment, littered with emojis, scroll to the next and have the ability to do the exact same thing to a piece of content from my favorite brand. There’s no major separation happening here like we’ve seen in traditional media. You expect commercials while watching network television. You know that looking at a billboard along the highway means you’ll see which exit to take for the world’s largest ball of yarn. You get the Sunday paper knowing you’ll see the weekly ad for Target. Social media has blurred that line of expectation. It’s happening inline and alongside updates from the people you know and love. Which stands to prove that our subconscious, in regard to brands on (and off) social media, has a greater alignment to how personably we interact with our friends and family and the expectations and emotional responses we have to them than not.

Not a gig for the intern

And so, it’s important to differentiate that posting to social media is very different than managing social media.

Truly anyone can post something on social media.

As a brand, you should be intimately connected to what it means to incorporate your voice, product, or service onto a social platform. It has a powerful impact on your brand as a whole and the experience that customers and prospective customers have with your brand.

We are far, far, far past the age of forgiveness because “the intern running our social accounts didn’t know”. People are hip. They’re with it. Big brands have brought in highly skilled, talented, and ever-learning leaders to guide their social media strategies and content experiences. These good eggs have set the standard for the rest of us.

Having an exceptional social media experience isn’t reserved for brands at scale, but for small businesses, it certainly needs to be firmly rooted in a foundation of scalability.

Wear the Chipotle social suit as a startup and I promise you’ll grow into it.

How to Be an Effective Social Media Manager for Brands and Companies

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Jessi Sanfilippo © 2020 All Rights Reserved All Wrongs Reserved Too | Developed by Up Top Agency, LLC

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How Long Will It Take?

How Long Will It Take? A Lesson in Bad PR
How long will it take?
A lesson in bad PR

Being a terrible listener makes you a terrible communicator.

When the nature of our business is to effectively communicate with one another, this paradigm is as ironic as it is detrimental.

I recently received a typically regular outreach from an independent PR “professional” for my humor site, SHUGGILIPPO, and the below exchange followed, with [commentary bolded]:

October 29, 2014 6:00am


Ms. Jessi Sanfilippo Blogger

Can we interest you in taking a look and possibly doing a feature story or a review of this delightful new award winning children’s holiday book by [AUTHOR REDACTED]?

Here is a rock and rolling story about [SUMMARY REDACTED].  This exquisitely illustrated book will have you and your kids totally enthralled and when you get to the last page, you will explode with laughter and delight.

If you would like to receive a review copy, please provide us with your best mailing address. We have very limited review hard copies left, but PDF file will still available or if you wish fast action and would like to save a few trees request that as your preference.


[For those unfamiliar, this is a standard issue format for outreach from a PR representative to a blogger/influencer. Awkward opening salutation and all.] 

 October 29, 2014 8:56pm

Hello [REP REDACTED]!                                     

This title looks wonderful! Depending on how quickly I could get a hardcover copy to include in my “Children’s Books” holiday gift guide video, I’d love to add it to the mix. [How long will it take?] The excerpts below are right up the alley of the tone of my site and audience. 

Let me know the turnaround time on that and we can go from there. [How long will it take?]

Hope this finds you well and, as always, thank you for the outreach on sharing this great title with my audience! [Pleasant enough, right?]

Chat soon, 

Jessi Sanfilippo


October 29, 2014 9:22 pm

As stated below:

If you would like to receive a review copy, please provide us with your best mailing address. We have very limited review hard copies left, but PDF file will still available or if you wish fast action and would like to save a few trees request that as your preference. [Now let’s remember how I mentioned I was thinking of putting this book in a video. That proves less screen-friendly when the copy I’m using is a PDF file.]


October 29, 2014 9:45pm


I did read the part about the PDF copy available for more immediate review, however, since the nature of the title’s potential inclusion would be on camera in a holiday gift guide series I’ll be filming & publishing in the next 2-3 weeks, I wanted to see if you could offer any insight on the turnaround for physical copies. [So, how long will it take? In other words, I’m being considerate in not laying claim to one of the expressed limited physical copies if it won’t arrive in time to be including on-camera.]

If not, that’s okay. Was just thinking from what I could see in your release that this might be a fun one to include in the collection I already have for the episode. [Pay attention. I’m only asking to include this book in something that I am already doing.]

Thanks for your time on this, [REDACTED]! 

Chat soon,

Jessi Sanfilippo


October 29, 2014 10:11pm

Jessim, [Same day, different name.]

You are making this way harder than it needs to be. [Uh oh.]

If you wish to receive a hard copy, please just provide us with your street mail address. 


[Sent at 10:11pm. Everyone knows, nothing good comes from messaging after 10pm.]

October 29, 2014 10:14pm

I just downloaded your media kit. [Wait, what?] You charge for sponsored posts and advertising. [Yeah…and…]

If you are seeking to be paid, we can’t work with you at all. We don’t pay for media coverage. [Good to know.]


Let me know if you can do an objective review with no fee. [Yeah, I kind of thought that’s what we’ve been talking about.] If you can’t then please let me know. I’ll place you on our block list. [Well that escalated quickly.]


[Wait, wait. I didn’t get a chance to respond to the fir…]

October 29, 2014 10:19pm

Jesse, [Ah, a new misspelling.]

I studied your media kit. [Um…]

Sorry, we see the trend for people to run articles for a fee, [People occasionally being paid for what they do? Yeah. It’s an epidemic.] but we can’t even pass these offers back to the PR clients due to the financial conflict of interest issues that arise.  The fee requires disclosure under the FTC “Truth in Advertising” requirements. [Ya don’t say?] Our clients come to us for objective editorial coverage, freely given due to the value offered, and not advertising. 

I have written several commentaries about the recent trend for sponsored posts, particularly on blogs. If you want to read more about why this business model has serious drawbacks, click here: [URL REDACTED] [Very eye-opening since all industry trends indicate a significant shift toward sponsored digital content.] 

Google is also now penalizing all web sites including blog sites that accept payment for links and sponsored posts even with disclosure. [NO! Not the Google Police!] Here’s an excellent article for you from a sponsored post blogger who has written and explained this issue very well: [URL REDACTED] 

And here is a link to one of my blog posts about the Google changes [URL REDACTED]

Although my post was written concerning news releases, the Google changes are just applicable and as pertinent to sponsored posts. [Looks like I hit the jackpot with all this insider Google information.]

If you are willing to do a review based on your objective consideration of the product, then please provide us with your best mailing address. [I already said yes. Twice. How long will it take?]

Hope this helps.


Free eBook download [URL REDACTED] [Well this is new…]

[I wanted so badly to respond to this 8-minute, late night barrage of messages with my knee-jerk impression, but decided to collect myself in order to offer a more constructive reply.]

October 30, 2014 1:05am


It saddens me to hear that you have had such an unpleasant experience with bloggers and/or online influencers in the past, [Those money-hungry monsters who are sometimes paid.] that it has led to the assumptive, baseless succession of emails in reply to how timely a hard copy of a title for inclusion in an editorial based video would be. 

I have been publishing online in the editorial, advertorial, and advertising means for upwards of seven years. By and before FTC guidelines were as rigidly outlined and strictly enforced. [This is not my first rodeo.] However the guidelines in this particular scenario, and your attempt to condescendingly “educate” me on the adverse effects of publishing paid content on my site, are as bewildering as they are moot since there was never a financial expectation expressed on my part. [You only assumed this because you clicked on a link that I have in all of my emails.] I am no stranger to the editorial nature of generating exposure, for books in particular, as I have been doing so on my site for years now. At no point in my correspondence, again, simply asking you how many days/weeks it would be to receive a physical copy [How long will it take…] to feature in a video (a delivery medium, as you well know from your explicitly shared knowledge of the industry, is typically a premium paid distribution avenue), did I request or require a form of payment to do so. […to do it for free?]

While I appreciate the thorough attention you managed to apply to my default email signatures, as well as the content of my media kit, I’d have loved to see you apply that same level of attention to my repeated inquiry. I implore you to take a moment of your heightened attention to detail and cycle back to the two previous messages I sent your way. You’ll see that I was offering to provide exceptionally effective coverage on behalf of your client and their title in a medium that would have exceeded what is typically a dry and formulaic activation of your promotional efforts. At no requested fee. At all. Ever. 

As a result of this bizarre and unsettling string of correspondence, I am fortunately, or unfortunately for your client, no longer interested in providing coverage for this title. [Which is really a shame.] I would request that you proceed with adding my contact information to your “block list” as I, in an effort to avoid “making this harder than it needs to be”, will be adding yours to a block list of my own. [::presses play on the song “Shit List” by Garbage::]

P.S. I would highly recommend closing down your email when enjoying a few night caps. [I didn’t say I wouldn’t throw a knee-jerk comment in there at all.]

Jessi Sanfilippo


October 30, 2014 12:34 PM

Jessi, [Nailed it! Finally.]

It saddens me as well that we won’t be working together as well. [Welcome to the Department of Redundancy Department]

You contacted [AUTHOR REDACTED]. That’s fine. [I sent a friendly head’s up to the author to loop her in on the exchange so it’s nice to hear that he approves of my doing so.]

I then reviewed all the email with you and decided that I might clarify my response to you a little better. [Obviously your client contacted you. That sounds like a good idea. Especially since we both know they’ve been BCC’d on this message.]

You indicated that you felt my assumptions were baseless, so I want you to know why I responded to your communications with me the way I did. Perhaps I am more than a little sensitive to bloggers but the sposored post phenomenon is driving people in the PR business a little crazy. [A little?] But I do want to relate to you specifically what you sent to me and why I responded the way I did. [Here we go again…] Perhaps you might conclude some changes in what you send to people are in fact justified. [I wouldn’t bet on it.]

The email was in fact a bit confusing to me. [“How long will it take?” is very confusing.] I will explain why. [Phew. I thought you may have changed your mind.]  

Your email below states that there was no words that implied there was to be a fee. [BINGO! How long will it take?]

I wish to point out that this was not as clear as you might believe it to be. Here is what you sent in response to the news release: [This shouldn’t be very surprising since I wrote it.]

Hello [REP]!

This title looks wonderful! Depending on how quickly I could get a hardcover copy to include in my “Children’s Books” holiday gift guide video, I’d love to add it to the mix. The excerpts below are right up the alley of the tone of my site and audience. 

Let me know the turnaround time on that and we can go from there.

Hope this finds you well and, as always, thank you for the outreach on sharing this great title with my audience!

Chat soon,

Jessi Sanfilippo

Founder & Humorist at | Los Angeles | [PHONE REDACTED]

View & download the full media kit for SHUGGILIPPO here: [URL REDACTED]

First I went to your site, and your home page has no publishing content. It is all about you. [Since, in my also years-long experience with PR, a majority of the outreach is based on little to no due diligence in comprehensive list-building, all the site links in my emails directed you to my “about” page so you’d have the chance to learn more about my site and myself. So yeah. What you saw on my “home page” makes sense.]  I looked all through your site and it is not clear where you publish Where features or information about my client could be featured is not readily apparent. [At the time of this email, on the actual home page of my site, there were three posts in the series I’d been referencing in my messages that I wanted to feature your client’s product in. For free.]

Then your email simply states in pertinent part …. “Let me know the turnaround time on that and we can go from there.” [Right. How long will it take?]

This is followed by your signature with:

View & download the full media kit for SHUGGILIPPO here: [URL REDACTED]




You notice this copy is enlarged and bolded with all caps caps on your SHUGGILIPPO name.[Why yes. I did indeed notice you manipulated my signature to look like that.]

So of course, I then clicked on it and looked over all your options.   Your media kit very clearly states that you charge for video production and you also charge for content production. [Yes. My media kit does outline pricing, however our one-on-one dialogue never did.]  

Your media kit made no statements whatsoever that indicated you would review or feature books or products in any other manner. Everything had a price. [That is the intended purpose of a media kit though, and again, this was never part of the conversation.]

I hope you can see that having followed your links it is very easy to conclude that you charge for coverage. [You’re reaching across the globe on this one, buddy.]

Finally, I concluded that given the clients I have the and coverage we seek, you really don’t publish the type of content that will best serve my clients interests. [I love when it gets to the blind, yet very bold, insults.]

This is why I sent you the email. [Glad we cleared that up.]

I am a former attorney [Nowwwwwwwww this is all making more sense…] and have researched the topic very carefully for many years now. My email to you regarding sponsored post and pay for play has evolved over many years of experience and has been sent to hundreds of bloggers this past year. [Hopefully also unsolicited.]  I apologize if that upset you. [Well, I kept Kleenex in business for Q3 so that’s good.] This is an issue that plagues hundreds of bloggers. I am working closely with Cision to clarify the type of media they include in their database and they have agreed to designate media who provide real objective media coverage, vs. those who charge for their time and effort.  This will improve the working relationships in a very practical way in the industry. [Blah, blah, blah]

My bottom line is that it does not look like we are a match. [Sounds like a familiar conclusion.] I seek bona fide objective media coverage for my clients. [Exactly what I provide mine.]

You do what you are best at.  I wish you well and hope you achieve everything you want to in this life. [Are you also a former life coach?]



Everyone inherently knows that it’s a smart idea to develop good relationships in business. Especially when you are in the business of public relations. One of the most accessible tools we have to achieve that, is our skill with communication.

The simplest part of that skill is listening.

He just wasn’t listening.

All I was asking was “How long will it take?”

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