Breaking down what makes a Top 1% social media manager
By Tommy Clark
I want to make something abundantly clear as we get into today’s edition.
This is my opinion. Sure. I think it’s the correct opinion — but it’s my opinion. Lmao.
Being a Top 1% SMM comes down to one trait.
‘Taste’ is hard to define.
It’s a sort of abstract attribute. But you just know when someone has it.
My definition of taste (or the one that I saw that stuck with me) is the ability to know when something is going to ‘hit’ with your audience. I saw this somewhere — but I’m drawing a blank on where… so credit to whoever said this first.
But yeah. Taste is that feeling you have before you post something that makes you say to yourself — yeah, this is going to pop off.
And vice versa, taste is the reflex you have to cringe when your boss sends you the most horrendous meme known to man and asks… “should we push this to social?”
You know what I mean, right? Now…
Why taste is the X factor?
95% of the battle in content creation is sourcing a powerful idea.
Again. Fake stat. But bear with me.
The point here is that the idea is the driving force behind the vast majority of the performance of a piece of content.
The easiest way to show you this is through an example.
Take this Twitter thread I wrote last year about Minions: The Rise of Gru. It was my most viral piece of content until about 2 weeks ago. Why did it pop off?
Was it the formatting of the hook?
That helped. But it wasn’t the main driver.
Was it the way the copy flowed from tweet to tweet?
Eh. Not quite.
So what drove this virality?
Simple. The topic I selected — or the idea.
I was writing this thread at 1am on a Saturday night. And for some reason… I had this feeling… this thread was going to pop.
I’m sure you’ve had those moments before.
Whether you’re writing a Twitter thread, making a TikTok video, or putting together a LinkedIn carousel… you just know it’s going to work.
That is taste. And the Top 1% of social media managers have it engrained in them.
I do want to clarify one thing though. Having strong taste doesn’t mean everything you post needs to pop off. Not even close.
A .300 batting average is stellar. A 50% FG percentage in basketball is fantastic.
The same goes for content. Not every piece if going to perform. At least, not if you’re taking enough risk to create real compelling content.
(But having strong taste will get that batting average from .250 to .350 and have you hitting more home runs that your competition.)
[As an aside, I was absolutely horrendous at baseball as a child so I hope that analogy makes sense 😂]
Can you develop taste? And how??
Okay, this might be controversial. But I do believe part of having ‘taste’ in a given discipline is something a person is ‘born’ with.
Think about athletes. Some people are born with attributes that make them better suited for a given sport — i.e. football over basketball, swimming over sprinting, etc.
Taking the athlete analogy one step deeper — let’s look at basketball in particular.
Some players have what are called ‘intangibles.’ They see things unfolding on the court that other players just don’t see. They just know what the right move is in a given situation.
Some players are born to be Magic Johnson — others ride the bench on their high school JV team. Lmao.
‘Taste’ is found in the ‘intangibles’ of content creation.
There is good news, though.
You can train ‘taste’ to a certain degree — just like a point guard can train to make certain reads on the basketball court.
A significant part of the ‘taste’ equation is pattern recognition. That’s how I was able to identify that the Minions thread would pop off — and how I ran the same playbook to write this Twitter thread that pulled 6M views.
Let’s discuss 2 ways to train taste:
1) Reps on reps on reps on reps… (and more reps)
I do believe have above-average taste when it comes to social media content.
And one of the catalysts for the development of that taste was the insane amount of repetitions I got in social content creation over the course of the past 5 years.
Back in college, I had an online fitness coaching side hustle — and I figured I’d try to get clients using social media.
I had no idea what I was doing. But I binge-watched Gary Vee videos and came to the conclusion that I should be posting on social media. A lot. How much?
- 3x per day on Instagram
- 3x per day on Facebook
- 3x per week on YouTube
- 1-2x per day on TikTok
This also happened to be right as COVID was becoming a thing. I lived in LA at the time so I was locked in my house for the better part of 2 years. I literally had nothing to do but coast through my online classes and make a shit ton of content.
No team. Just a manic obsession with figuring out this content thing.
Yeah. The cadence was stupid. Yeah. I burned myself out plenty of times.
But I went from ‘not great’ at social media to pretty damn good.
A lot of that content early on was horrendous. Looking back at it now — most of it was.
Over time, less and less of the content was shit.
I started to understand what people enjoyed. I started to understand how these platforms worked. I started to get in touch with other creators who were further along than I was — speeding up my learning process even more.
This might not be the most practical advice. It might not be the advice that is most in line with the ‘work-life balance’ crowd.
But putting in 1000s of reps is the best way to develop taste — or let the ‘taste’ that lives inside of you find its way to the surface.
It’s the easiest way to compress the time it takes to get you from 0 → 1.
You gotta be obsessed for a period of time.
2) Analyze and emulate others with great taste
If you’ve read any of my previous work, you know how I feel about the whole ‘create more than you consume’ BS.
It’s well-intentioned — but does more harm than good for content creators and SMMs who already have the initiative and discipline to create.
As you start creating more and more content, you should also be consuming great content from others. You should be analyzing how and why it works.
You should be collecting this information in your Swipe File — or at the very least collecting it as screenshots in your disorganized camera roll.
Spending degenerate amounts of time consuming content on social media platforms is a prerequisite for developing strong taste.
How else are you supposed to know what triggers users to engage?
Intentionally send yourself down rabbit holes. Explore deep corners of Twitter, TikTok, whatever platform you want to become an expert in.
And while you’re exploring — start to identify patterns in the content that ‘hooks’ you the most. Add these attributes to your content arsenal.
One other piece of advice here.
On every platform — there is a genre of content that covers ‘How To Grow On X Platform.’
For example: People on LinkedIn who based their entire content persona on ‘how to grow on LinkedIn’ or people on TikTok who are ‘TikTok coaches’ or whatever the hell they call themselves.
These types of creators can be a good starting point if you have literally zero idea WTF you’re doing on a given platform. But once you graduate from the basics — you’re far better off avoiding this type of content.
Instead: consume the best content on the platform and dissect it yourself.
Go down rabbit holes, like we just talked about. You’ll learn more from this way of consuming content than any half-baked explainer post on ‘47 Hooks You NEED To Steal For LinkedIn [Using Chat GPT]!!”
Now… if you’re a founder or CMO reading this… you might be wondering how to get these social media managers who ‘get it’ to want to work for you. I got you. Keep reading.
Attracting Top 1% social media talent to your company
Make your company an attractive place for these people to work at.
It’s that simple.
→ Do you think a Top 1% social media manager wants to work somewhere that offers a laughable salary?
→ Do you think a Top 1% social media manager wants to work somewhere with leadership that micromanagers their every move?
→ Do you think a Top 1% social media manager wants to work somewhere that doesn’t give them the resources to execute on their vision?
See what I mean?
Attracting top talent to your company just comes down to aligning incentives and making your organization an attractive place to work.
You’re not going to ‘trick’ or con someone into working for less than they deserve, or in an environment that doesn’t allow them to be fulfilled in their work — because they’ll often have a line of potential options out the door.
Have a dope product worth promoting. Pay your talent well (with a clear path for career growth). And give them the freedom to work how they work best.
The Top 1% don’t need to be micromanaged. They’re killers regardless.
That’s all I’ve got today.