My husband is an amazing cook. He reads recipes, comes up with his own variations, blending and layering ingredients in new and delicious ways. Even though he is amazing in our kitchen, he could not own a restaurant. Why? He knows how to time a meal with three dishes for eight people, but expanding that to thirty dishes, for one hundred people requires skills he does not have.
What does it take to be a social media chef?
The same challenge exists when it comes to professional social media. Lots of people are good on social media. They are funny and engaging. They have a large following and interact regularly. But just because they are great at managing their own accounts does not mean they have the skills to be a successful social media chef.
It is easy to improvise when you are cooking for a few people. A pinch of this, a dash of that. If you don’t have enough potatoes you can substitute with carrots. When you are cooking for a larger group and they expect a potato, that is what you have to serve. Slight variations will dramatically change your dishes when you are cooking on a large scale, so a precise recipe is required to order the food you need in bulk. In professional social media, that recipe is your content calendar. It outlines the ingredients (types of content) and the schedule (how often and when you will post). It is also used to create your shopping list.
A professional doesn’t just grab a random stock image at the last minute. Posts are planned, appropriate images and Gifs are selected, or created and scheduled to drop in the timeline at exactly the right time. While many experts have conducted research to find the exact right time, Sprout social has a terrific post on this topic. A professional social media chef knows how to use the industry standards, individual client data, and their own experience honed across a range of clients to create the ideal schedule.
Manage the Kitchen
When my husband is cooking the rest of the family stays out of the kitchen. He manages his time, switching from pot to pot so every dish arrives on the table at the same time. That works on a small scale, but restaurant chefs must create standard practices, train their staff, delegate tasks, and stay on top of everything that is happening at the same time. They can let go because they have laid the groundwork.
A professional social media chef will do the same thing. Whether they are part of your marketing team or an outside expert, their first task must be to create standard practices. Next, social media won’t work if you are relying on just one person to put messages out there. Everyone on your team needs to be trained and know how to engage in order to support the company’s social media program. Non-profit organizations with small staffs and large volunteer groups should extend this training to the loyal external community. When it comes to social media, the more people supporting the chef, the more delicious the result.
Walk into any restaurant kitchen during the dinner rush and it feels a bit like managed chaos. Somehow, in this chaos, the chef knows what is going on at each station. Social media management can feel that way as well. This is especially true as you widen your team, allowing multiple people to share and even post directly to your social pages. A good social media chef is continually training, coaching, providing guidance to marshall the resources of their entire team.