5 Hard Truths About Working in Social Media – by Antonia Harler

I am posting this tomorrow on my other blog, Starting a Career in Social Media, but it’s good. So good that I am posting it here today.  So if you subscribe to both (which you should), get over it.

Today’s post comes from (with permission) from my friend, Antonia Harler, who is one of the up-and-coming rising stars in social media.  I interviewed Antonia for the book, but she was kind enough to let me share a great post of hers, “5 hard truths about working in social media.”  It’s like Antonia:  honest, smart and fun.

Here goes: 5 hard truths about working in social media

I knew I wanted to work in social media for quite a while before I actually started my job. I envisioned what a social media job would entail and quite liked what I came up with. A combination of creativity, people & strategy. And while, yes, a social media job does in fact combine all of these things the reality and my vision are worlds apart. (Yes, I do love my job nonetheless.)

When people find out how I went from jobless to employed, they usually ask me what they should do to find a job in social media. And while many of them have a lot of passion and natural talent, there are just as many who are a bit too dreamy and haven’t really thought about their choice. I was dreamy, but I did actually think my decision through. At the same time, however, I jumped into the unknown because no-one told me what the reality looks like, which is precisely why I’m going to tell you some tough truths about working in social media.

Social media by itself doesn’t work!

I don’t work for a social media firm. I work for a PR consultancy, which has expanded into the digital sector. But the traditional stuff is still all there. It didn’t disappear and social is an addition to everything that’s been going on for years. My background isn’t in PR so you can imagine that it’s not always easy. I want and need to learn how PR works. From scratch. And that’s just it. Social media is never JUST social media. You’ll have to learn many things that you may not necessarily be interested in to make it work for your company or clients.

The job will follow you home!

Social media is constant. And while you may know that, you really don’t until you work in social media. People don’t stop talking when you leave the office at 6. In fact, that’s usually when they start talking. You have to learn how to deal with time differences, constant monitoring and engaging. If you are anything like me you’ll have a tough time ignoring your beeping phone or the constant stream of Emails. You’ll keep thinking about strategies, updates, monitoring etc after you leave the office at night.

Social media equals a sh*t load of research!

Before you do anything remotely connected to social media, you’ll do a lot of reading. A lot of googling. A lot of combing through directories and statistics followed by a whole lot more reading. And once you are done with all the reading, you start to analyse what you just read which then, somewhere down the line, evolves into a strategy. Then eventually, you’ll put the strategy into practice which, again, is followed by a lot of research and analysis. Until you start over.

Working in social media isn’t just fun and games!

Social media is SOO much fun, you say? Well it is, until it isn’t. You have to think a lot. Especially about wording. The way you say things in your private life may not be right for your client/company. You’ll have to adapt your writing style. Your way of thinking. And *actually* do some work. It’s not just about playing around on Facebook all day. It’s rather the complete opposite.

You need to stay on the ball!

Social media evolves. Constantly. You can’t afford to miss out on these developments because they may be good for your client. How do you do that? Through reading. As you can see, there’s a pattern.

This post isn’t meant as a discouragement to anyone who wants to work in social media. It should rather help you evaluate your decision and make it easier to decide whether it’s right for you. There’s no shame in it being wrong for you. Not everyone is made for it. It’s always better to find out sooner rather than later. 😉

BTW, have you become a fan of SocialGlitz on Facebook yet?



  1. shawnte mcqueen Says: December 12, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Such a good article! I think many people don’t understand the research, analysis, and research that has to happen to move an organization forward in social media and building an online, engaging community. I would print this and post at work!

  2. You’re right. These are great reminders. Especially the part about research, which I find that most people are pretty content to just skip, whether that means not reading things before they share them, or writing something because it’s the prevailing wisdom, not because it’s true, from experience, or factual.

  3. […] At the intersection of online and offline, Antonia Harler shares 5 Hard Truths About Working in Social Media […]

  4. Mark Story Says: December 17, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Thanks for the comment, Shawnte!

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