Challenges for Social Media Managers

In late 2019, Social Media Guide facilitated a focus group discussion to gain an in-depth understanding of issues, opportunities, and challenges people face with managing social media for particularly small to medium sized businesses.

Participants were randomly selected from a cross section of businesses and industries according to both the size of the industry, and the percentage of small businesses that make up the total industry size in Australia.

Findings from the focus group informed further face to face interviews with eighteen interviewees. The interviewees were randomly selected from a variety of industries and organizations, including larger Government and corporate organisations. Interviewees were selected from Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide to allow exploration of any differences based on geographic location.

An initial conversation was used to openly explore issues, challenges, and opportunities with interviewees before concluding with questions testing patterns identified through both the focus group and previous interviews (an abductive approach).

Most interviews were recorded with the participants permission, transcribed, and analyzed using NVivo software. In two cases whereby participants preferred not to be recorded, notes were taken and cross referenced with existing data.

Additional interviews were not required as saturation of knowledge had been achieved (Bertaux, 1981).

A summary of five of the nine key findings are as follows:

FindingDescription
All participants were self-taughtParticipants had a variety of educational backgrounds with Social Media Managers in large corporate/government entities typically having a marketing/communications education. All had taught themselves how to technically manage their social media.
Social Media Managers and businesses prefer to manage social media platforms themselvesAll respondents advised they currently manage their own social media platforms, do not intend to outsource anytime soon, and prefer to retain control of their online image.
Participants identified key challenge is staying up to date with latest technical changes to platformsParticipants supported the notion “there is a sea of information out there” (online) however it can be time consuming working through what is relevant and not relevant.
Social Media Managers (specific job role) spend significant time outside of work monitoring accountsSocial Media Managers (typically in large organisations) spoke about always being “switched on” and needing to monitor accounts outside of normal hours. Some raised concern about the impact on Social Media Managers.
Rogue accounts in large organisationsRogue accounts were identified as a particular issue for larger organisations. These are accounts that are managed by a business unit/individual with little to no control from marketing/communications/Social Media Manager. Perceived need to educate rogue account managers to improve quality and consistency with overall strategy.

Additional quantitative research confirmed the above findings on a broader scale.