Content Creator Chronicles 02: Social Media Marketers

Andie Smith
November 19, 2021
Future of Work

Who runs the Wendy’s Twitter account? Likely not the founder Dave Thomas himself, but rather a team of social media strategists who are hyper-in tune with the platform’s intricacies and creative with churning out engaging content related to their fast-food branding. This is content creation on the social network: a new career path that’s blazing the trail of digital marketing.

We’re back with another installment of Content Creator Chronicles, a series investigating the elusive definition of content creation. As our world shifts to digital, more and more avenues open up for creatives of all types to develop their craft, whether it be video entertainment, social media, blogging, etc. There is just so much content out there, how can we account for all crafts of content under one umbrella creator?

With the emergence of this career path, it is important to distinguish between the types of creators, as the multitude of digital platforms will only grow. The future is hard to pinpoint with online media reproducing like cells dividing in a growing baby: the Internet brain child. We’re interested in exploring this largely untold story of content creation today. 

We’ll be exploring the content creation that happens on social media, but behind the scenes. Likely, you follow a number of influencers or personalities on some platform, whether that be Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, etc. And while they fall under the title of content creators too, it’s important to account for Social Media Marketing, an entire career path and industry that has opened up in the past decade with the flourishing of social networking. 

The Cool Brands Are Doing It

So why should your brand or company establish a social media presence, and more importantly, foster a forward-thinking team of marketers to run it? Well, everyone else is doing it. 

Since the dawn of social networking with platforms like Friendster that launched in 2002, and MySpace in 2003, consumers began living in these digital communities. Facebook, after launching publicly in 2006, introduced the “like” button, which completely transformed the functionality of social media. Now, users could publicly express their interest in brands and other users. This was free marketing and advertising in its purest form. 

The benefits of social media marketing for your DTC brands go far and wide. Having a presence on a platform like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or LinkedIn validates the brand. By churning out relevant, engaging, and valuable content, brands can access and retain a clearly-defined audience. 

Engaging content on social media, then, helps the brand’s audience know about new product releases, emphasizes that the brand is active and alive, and increases customer loyalty and brand awareness. The next wave of consumers is attracted to brands with a clear, distinguished identity that they resonate with, and social media is a perfect avenue for attracting potential customers.

Califia Farms, the non-dairy milk company, boasts a following of 290k on Instagram. Their account frequently posts recipe videos as well as lifestyle shots and product promotions to stay engaged. Their social media presence allows them to access a consumer base of vegans, plant-based eaters, or those who prefer non-dairy milk. They have a cult following for a reason: by developing their brick & mortar presence as well as digital one on social media, folks go crazy over a delicious cup of coffee with flavored almond milk on their feed and in person. 

Nunoo, a Danish luxury purse DTC, has developed their presence on Youtube prolifically. By posting the popular trend videos of “What’s in my bag?,” they accomplish giving their audience a real-life look at the quality, utility, and style of their bags, as well as entertaining content to watch and retain a loyal customer base. 

Some niche DTC apparel companies take their social media presence to the next level by creating an entire art gallery-esque Instagram feed. 

Entireworld is a DTC loungewear brand, matching their colorful sweaters and trousers with minimalistic sans-serif fonts and a curated selection of inspiring photography and art. Scrolling through their Instagram feed emulates the feeling of browsing through a rainbow moodboard, associating strong color emotion with shapes and design to accompany their products. Social media management here takes the form of someone with an eye for curation and color, and a strong grasp on the user experience of Instagram’s niche art world. 

EntireWorld's Instagram Feed

The Arrivals is an outerwear brand that offers high quality pieces with dynamic potential. Their attention to detail is evident in their product production as much as their Instagram feed, with micro shots of the fabric texture, and their products styled and in action. Content creation on this front likely involves heavy art direction in the studio, with emphasis on Instagram-grid deliverables. Social media management can transform the brand identity in this case: the curation of serious poses and neutral tones gives off an overall mood of professional high-end couture for the active traveler.

The Arrival's Instagram Feed

How To Run a Successful Social Media Account

As this series promises, we hope to shed some light onto the role and responsibilities of the social media marketers of today. A lot goes into running a successful social media account for a brand; it’s more than snapping a photo and posting to the feed. Strategy, observation, and confidence are huge facets of being a social media guru. 

Of course, responsibilities and tasks vary heavily contingent on the platform. 

Instagram and Youtube rely on a more rigid content calendar, with a forward-thinking approach to scheduling posts, whereas platforms like Twitter or Linkedin are more dynamic; they require to strike when the iron’s hot rather than planning for the future. 

Across the board, content ideation and execution is essential. Social media managers must be able to come up with creative ideas for new content initiatives, which could be weekly series, stories, graphics, memes, etc. Creative strategy is involved in honing in on a brand voice and tone, and helps bolster audience messaging by delivering on a social platform. Management is a huge component as well, especially if there are a team of designers and other content creators behind the social media manager. The account must post regularly, respond to comments, DMs, and stay engaged with trends and threads. 

We spoke with Toby Howell, the social media manager of Morning Brew’s Twitter account, which boasts a following of 93.5K followers. Morning Brew has changed the game with business newsletters, and has even expanded over the past few years to podcasting and sister newsletters. The Twitter handle holds high real estate on the platform: their tweets gain hundreds of responses and quote tweets, garnering a lot of attention for witty humor and spot-on industry observations. 

Howell speaks on this precarious balance and shift to managing a professional handle. Social media consumption has oftentimes, unhealthy detriments on adolescents or people of any age when spending too much time scrolling. A certain digital or social anxiety occurs, and a reluctance to stop because it helps distract the mind. 

“There’s 2 types of social media consumption: mindless scrolling, versus during the day– I’m reading the news and searching for things and actively engaged.” Howell claims that the jump from mindless to intentional media consumption is the key to differentiating unhealthy personal use to professional, productive use. While Twitter can be a source of business news, politics, and the stock exchange, it can also be a place to have a good laugh at a meme, or even find sub-pockets of fandoms. 

“Social media is the ultimate echo chamber,” he says. But while Howell can scroll through his personal account and Morning Brew’s, he finds that the difference between feeds and timelines is what helps him avoid the echo chamber effect. “I have this doubly diverse perspective. There’s so many subculture pockets on Twitter and I actively seek those out. I’ll intentionally borrow content from that niche.” 

Overall, voice, tone, and audience messaging reigns supreme when finding success on a platform like Twitter. Howell frequently posts threads on his own Twitter on his secrets and experience in running a successful account.

“An underrated part is mindset and fearlessness. What takes accounts to the next level is tweeting like a human would.” - Toby Howell

Trouble-Shooting Tumultuous Times

Social media platforms have become a breeding ground for political news, opinion, and thought, and sadly, a lot of misinformation. This last summer, during the civil rights movement and Black Lives Matter protests, we witnessed a “blackout” on social platforms, where brand accounts and personal accounts alike stepped down to make space for black voices on the platform. Similarly, this past election week has proved a precarious time to post due to anxiety running high and political unrest. How does one manage a social media account for a brand during a tumultuous political time? 

“The in-vogue thing is always to go silent, and that’s not a bad thing by any means. But it is very much appropriate for us to make a statement as a source of news. I probably posted over 200 times during election week. It was an engagement bonanza. The question you have to ask is: can your brand responsibly jump into the conversation?” - Toby Howell

It’s a case-by-case situation. Morning Brew is a source of business and non-partisan political news for millions of newsletter readers and Twitter followers. However, a swimwear DTC brand likely has no place jumping into a conversation surrounding the election. It’s all about knowing your audience, and retaining their trust through brand awareness. 

Career Impact 

So how has the onset of social networking and presence of social media in all aspects of our work and life brought about the emergence of this career? Has this benefitted young people coming out of school and entering the workforce? It’s been about twenty years since the onset of the social networking rise, and a lot of change has come to the various platforms. Twenty-somethings are finally finding themselves at working age to engage with the platforms that they once used for fun or entertainment. 

Howell says, “Back in the day, if you understood how the algorithm worked, you could be an above average account, if you’re tracking the right KPIs. That’s not the case anymore.” Howell references how in-tune managers need to be to the current trends and language of the Internet, “The next wave of social media managers are the ones who grew up on the platform.”

This phenomenon is commonly referred to, (by us) as the next wave of Generation Z content. Howell himself grew up using Twitter and other social media growing up, and being familiar with the ebbs and flows of a constantly evolving landscape is essential to riding the wave of engagement. Soon, young college students, post-grads, and young professionals will find themselves in this career path at ease for growing up using social networking for their own means. It’s not too difficult to switch gears from a personal account to a brand one, especially if you know the platform well.

The Social Network: A Place for Creatives

Instead of narrowing, the industry is becoming broader. Brands without social media presence will fall behind, as numbers clearly show an abundance of consumers who live in digital spaces. 

According to a HootSuite study of social media marketing results in 2019, 52% of online brand discovery happens in public social feeds. The most efficient DTC companies know that their ad spend on Instagram is well-targeted, as consumers across all ages are likely to find a brand they are attracted to while scrolling through their feed. The average social media user has about 8.3 social accounts, multiplying that chance of a consumer seeing your product on their mobile device. Social media ad spend is projected to rise 20% in 2020, and as our Good Company podcast interview with social media guru Savannah Sanchez revealed, this underrated phenomenon of advertising on platforms like Snapchat or Linkedin is abundant and untapped for many brands. 

The role of social media management and the plethora of content creation roles under that umbrella will continue to expand as a career path in conjunction to the industry. Tik Tok’s climb to the top is representative of this butterfly effect: when the entertainment industry shifts its attention to a new app, marketing and commerce follows, as do jobs. Furthermore, Tik Tok’s popularity and trailblazing has proven how social media marketing will continue to evolve like a Darwinian experiment. As video is the top performing content format on social media, it’s only a matter of time before the way video content is delivered will change again, or a new type of content will reign supreme. 

Content creators require a golden quality if they wish to remain working in their platform of choice: to anticipate and adapt to where the platform will evolve to. There was Instagram implementing a story feature to Snapchat, and then Instagram Reels. There was the end of Vine and the beginning of Tik Tok. Facebook became a forum board for suburban mothers and LinkedIn is used inappropriately as a dating app instead of a professional networking one. When the platform changes, so must the creator. Toby claimed the future of Twitter coil like a lot more similar to LInkedin in terms of intent, but adopting Twitter’s way of conveying authentic voice and personality in digestible, 140-character-count pieces: “Twitter is going to start the next wave of Twitter-esque platforms.”

Staying ahead of this curve might be to follow the social platform that the youngest generation is using most frequently. 69% of Tik Tok users are between the ages of 16 and 24. If you’re a DTC that’s targeting a Gen Z oriented consumer base, then Tik Tok is your jam. And if not, there is more value in investing time and resources into the platform that fits your brand’s tone and voice, as well as age group.

Regardless of platform choice, social media management and creation is running our marketing and advertising circles. With Generation Z growing up on these platforms instead of learning the ropes at an older, working age, the future looks bright for investing in social networking. 

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