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Managing your business social media: Yeah, it takes work and skill

Digital Marketing

Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing.

Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at shana@shanabull.com, @sharayray on Instagram or at shanabull.com.

Read her previous columns.

When people think that social media marketing is easy, I have to laugh.

After 12 years of managing social media accounts, blogging on digital marketing and teaching classes on best practices, I can say it is decidedly not easy. (That’s why I stay in business — LOL.)

Social media marketers are expected to be content creators, photographers, videographers, community managers, customer service representatives, data scientists, etc., etc., etc.

Even still, I sometimes see a new job position combined with a tasting room manager, wine club manager, restaurant manager, etc. in online job descriptions for wineries/restaurants looking for candidates.

For many Bay Area small business owners, social media marketing is a task that is mixed with everything else they have to do, which is often why it is one of the first things to go when business gets hectic.

This is why planning ahead is so important with content creation: When things do get busy, you can still market your brand and connect with your target audience. (See No. 2 in this list of things you shouldn’t be doing when it comes to social media.)

One thing we have learned since the fires back in 2017 is the importance of social media in building a connection with your audience and sharing details about your latest promotion, product or service. Or simply letting people know you are open.

Social media has become the place to do that — but when it comes to managing accounts for brands, it really shouldn’t be a job for just anyone. This is a marketing position, which is a different skill set than wine club management.

Which isn’t saying that one person for a small winery couldn’t do both — they can, but it isn’t a simple ask.

I talked with a few social media marketers in the Bay Area, and here are a few things they want people to know about the job:

Vanessa Justice of Online Wine has been working in the direct-to-consumer (DTC) wine industry for over nine years, having started off as a wine-loving consumer before expanding to manage social media for Bay Area wineries like Broc Cellars, Las Jaras Wines, Tessier Winery, and Subject to Change. She likes to mix storytelling with promotional marketing, and her biggest tip is “to coordinate your social media efforts with your email marketing and tasting room offerings.”

It's one thing to share a pretty picture, but you also have to encourage your audience to take action (sign up for a tasting, go to your website, visit the location, etc.). Mixing a story with your content and a call to action (CTA) with a message can build a community that wants to purchase from you.

Vanessa also wants to remind marketers to not be afraid to reuse your quality content and repeat your tried and true messaging — as long as you are adding new content in between — across your digital platforms.

“In this age of information overload, your target audience will be able to hold onto messages they’ve seen or heard more than once more easily,” she says.

Maura Postlethwait is the founder of Social With Maura and manager of Robert Biale Vineyards’ social media accounts for the past three years.

She compares social media marketing to event planning,

“It’s more than simply posting! Think about an event; as an event manager, you would not show up on the day of the event without previous planning and expect rentals, vendors, and guests to arrive. An event would not be executed without the proper strategy, planning, and follow-up. The same goes for social media marketing.”

Maura also spends much of her time engaging with customers on her client’s social media networks; she understands that connecting with a target audience is just as much a part of the job as creating content.

Michael Patterson is a content creator and social media marketing guru who goes by the name “Dude Where’s My Tacos” on Instagram.

His Instagram account is where you can find his videos and images showcasing restaurants all over the Bay Area and Sacramento — for example, his portfolio of the work he has done. He helps some restaurants with their own content creation and takes over accounts for others. His style usually involves high quality closeup videos of what he is eating, set to hip hop music. And, I will say, his videos alone have convinced me to make reservations on numerous occasions. (Here’s an example.)

Michael wants restaurants to know that content creation isn’t “something you can punch a clock and do. Maybe some can, but I can’t be creative on demand.”

He suggests that marketers find inspiration from their surroundings when it comes to video content, specifically for their Instagram Reels.

Creativity is hard to replicate and command. It takes practice and skill. Of course, you should still plan ahead for things that need to be shared, like upcoming promotions or social media holidays.

If you are looking to move forward with your business, now is the time to invest in your social media marketing efforts by either outsourcing or hiring a dedicated person in-house.

In fact, according to a report by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, marketing jobs — specifically, digital marketing jobs — have been increasingly more in demand. This means that your competitors are hiring digital marketers to take their businesses to the next level — and businesses that keep looking at social media marketing as a small item on their large task list will get left behind.

Digital Marketing

Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing.

Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at shana@shanabull.com, @sharayray on Instagram or at shanabull.com.

Read her previous columns.

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