15 June 2023 |

🗃 Social Files Declassified: Volume 4


How to dominate your first 90 days in a new social media manager position

Kevin Graham is one of the most talented SMMs I know (no, he did not pay me to say this).

He did stellar work over at MANSCAPED for 1.5 years, and just joined the social team over at C4 Energy — another super notable company.

This got me thinking…

Stepping into a new social media manager position, especially when joining a killer team with established strategy, can be intimidating as hell.

So I thought it would be helpful for you if Kevin and I grabbed some time to dive into exactly how he is approaching his first 30, 60, 90 days as a new member of the C4 social team (led by another SMM legend, Sam Wells).

By the end of this, you’ll have a proven roadmap to take with you into any new job or client account you step into.

Let’s open the file

If you’re in a rush, or just too lazy to read (it’s fine I won’t judge), here is the TLDR

Note 1: Your priority in the first 30 days is to observe. A lot of social media managers feel the pressure to come in and overhaul the way things are done. Do not do this until you have all of the context and data you need.

Note 2: After the 1st 30 days, in days 31-90, start to identify areas where you think workflows, strategies, etc can be improve. Do research to back your ideas up!

Note 3: Especially when coming into an established team, do not be afraid to lean on your team and ask questions often. Asking more questions upfront will make you self-sufficient, faster. A lot of SMMs have perfectionist tendencies and don’t want to ask questions to make it seem like they ‘have it together.’ Do not do this! Ask away.

Note 4: Once you’ve taken the time to understand 1) the product 2) the customer 3) the existing content strategy and systems — don’t be afraid to speak up and pitch your ideas! They hired you for a reason. You’re the social media expert.

Ok. Here’s the full thing.

Tommy: Kevin! Thanks for taking the time today. First question, who are you and what do you do? Just tell me about yourself and your work in social.

Kevin: I’m Kevin Graham. I’m a Senior Social Media Manager for C4 Energy. I’ve been in marketing for 5-6 years now.

Before starting my role at C4, I worked at Manscaped for a year and a half on their social team. And before that, I worked in the beer industry for a year and a half.

So I’ve kind of bounced around a few different industries and currently mainly focused on social media strategy and management.

Tommy: Awesome. So you just started your job at C4 not too long ago. As a social media manager, how do get the most out of those 1st 90 days on the team? What’s your game plan coming in as a new person on the social team?

Kevin: I think a lot of marketers try to do too much in the beginning — and they want to try and show their worth and make their impact right away.

But in reality, the better way to do it is just to learn the systems… to really just watch, understand how things have been done.

And then once you start observing and understanding those, you can start realizing where there’s room for improvement, and that’s where you can watch and learn, and that’s where you start building out strategy.

So in the next 30 days, you can actually start making an impact.

Month 2 is where you’ve got a feel for how the company works. You know more about the product and the industry. You understand the systems and the processes and who’s involved in getting things done.

And this is when you can start pitching ideas that you believe can make an impact, and start pitching content that will you think will perform better.

As a new hire, you have the benefit of having fresh eyes.

A lot of times when team members are at a company for a while, they just get caught up in the same old routine and content ideas. I’m guilty of it at every job.

And so when you have someone coming with fresh eyes, they just give a new perspective that’s beneficial. Those next 30 days (month 2) is when you can really start to me, I pitch ideas and start showing where tweaks to the strategy could improve us for the long run.

Tommy: Makes sense. You had mentioned that first month observing, looking at what people are doing, processes, tendencies… what are some of those things that you’re looking for?

Kevin: I’m observing for how quickly things can get acted upon from idea to creation, where there are any hiccups in the workflow, where it takes too long for stuff to happen. Really just looking for bottlenecks to get ride of so we can make more, better content.

And then just in terms of content, it takes a bit to start understanding a community and how they interact, what they like and don’t like.

So it’s really diving into looking at older posts, asking people around within different parts of the company what they’re enjoying, what they think could be going better.

And so I went through and asked 10-15 different people had one ones and just asked them what they thought, and started to look for some common threads in the conversations I was having.

Tommy: What are some of those questions that you’re asking people within the company in those one one sessions? Anything specific?

Kevin: I just love asking how I can help, or how I can better help them, because a lot of times I’m coming in, SMMs are brand new, so there’s going to be things that they probably needed help with.

And just a lot of bridging the gap with little things that throughout different departments because the better all the departments work together — the better our marketing is. The social team can’t be siloed.

Tommy: Okay, so kind of building off of that, how do you go about understanding the product and the industry you’re operating in, so you can then use that language and inside jokes and all that stuff in the content and the strategy that you come up with?

Kevin: Luckily I have a little bit of a fitness brain to me, which makes it easier coming into a brand like C4.

But in general, I pull myself out of my own content consumption habits and I try my hardest to consume like the consumer.

So I went and looked in the decks, talking all about who the target audience is, and I literally watch content like that specific consumer does.

So I go to where they would consume on all the different platforms, and I see what’s being posted, why it’s being posted, and that gives me a lot better understanding of what content we could be creating.

And then in terms of the product, you can look at comments that keep popping up. I dove through so many different posts, so many old posts, just trying to get a better feel for what sticks out.

Tommy: Love that. Now, you’re coming into a team that already exists. Obviously, Sam is super talented, running the show. How do you come in and how do you go about suggesting changes in the most effective way? Like if you identify something that you think could better, what’s your process for going about pitching that and getting that implemented?

Kevin: Yeah, there’s respect or like they’ve built the brand up for a reason and they know their shit.

It’s not likely you’re going to make drastic changes. And like you said, Sam’s a killer. There’s so many talented people on the team and that’s why sometimes it’s not like making these drastic changes, but just understanding how you can best help all the different people on your team.

And if you do have an idea, my advice is always back that shit up.

I think I had an idea that I pitched today. I spent ~6 hours researching it, which sounds insane, but I wanted my first idea to be an absolute hit.

So I backed it up with not just “this is an idea,” but “This is an idea that relates back to our campaign. Here’s the data to back it up. And then here are examples of it.”

But like I said, dude, I was digging deep because that’s what it is. If you want to prove yourself, you really need to put the work in.

Tommy: Love that. And actually leads into my next question, which is like, how would you recommend or how do you go about proving yourself in those 1st, 30, 60, 90 days? Obviously you come in, you want to make a good first impression, you want to set yourself up to ascend up the ranks at some point. How do you think about that?

Kevin: Understanding that it’s not about you.

Of course want to grow inside the company, that’s obvious.

But the better you can help people around you, the easier it’s going to be for you to grow.

So I would figure out how to best help people across as many different departments and ways as you can.

And you’ll start learning how quickly that you’ll gain respect because you’re reliable and that it’s so much easier to grow together than to try and be a one man show saying ‘look at me.’

And I’m definitely guilty of that in the past. And I would much rather be the person that’s building with people than by myself.

Tommy: Ok, one final question for you — what are the top 3 mistakes you see social media managers make coming into a new position?

Kevin: First, I do think it’s the classic ‘trying to make too many changes at once.’

You’re not going to completely change a company in 30 days. That’s fine.

Number 2 is not asking enough questions or not asking for help.

It’s this thing where you want to be seen like you’re perfect or whatever, so you hide from asking a question multiple times.

But one of the best things you can do is ask a bunch of questions so you can get things right and then you’re like self sustaining and don’t need to be asking those down the road.

And third, a lot of new SMMs get scared to speak up. Remember… you were hired for a reason, to be an expert!

And so if you believe in something, even if it’s a little different from what they’re doing, and if you have the data or if you have the reasoning to back it up, don’t feel afraid to speak up.

Even in my last role, I was 2 weeks in and I presented in front of 50 people because I thought I had a great idea. Even if it doesn’t end up working out, it does not hurt to speak up.

Tommy: Dope. This was a banger. Thanks again for your time!

If you found this interview helpful, you’ll love Kevin’s LinkedIn content. Follow him for more advice on social strategy (and the occasional meme) right here.