Behind The Keyboard With A Retail Social Media Manager

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We all know that one person who seems to do nothing but post Facebook updates and tweet whatever random thought pops into mind.

(We’d be forgiven if we chose to ignore those nagging fingers pointing in our direction, too.)

But what if you could turn your aptitude with social media into a noteworthy career, one that not only puts you right where all the online action is, but gives you an opportunity to make a big difference as well?

That’s exactly what Humber College grad Patrick Tackney did. Patrick first started working with his current employer, a retail clothing company, as a staff member at their flagship store in the Toronto Eaton Centre.

He slowly worked his way up the ranks, eventually holding office positions in the company’s reception and travel department, and becoming a Showroom Assistant.

After getting his public relations diploma in 2011, Patrick had hoped to find a job working in PR. Turns out, the company that was already closest to his heart had the perfect role for him in mind.

Currently holding court as a Social Media Manager and Communications Co-ordinator, Patrick also notes that his job isn’t just all about tweeting upcoming promos or posting pretty pictures on Facebook.

It’s a serious job – one that requires deft communication skills and an extensive knowledge of, and experience with, marketing and public relations.

“A lot of people assume you’re sitting on Twitter all day, checking out blogs, reading news sites,” he says. “I try and educate individuals on the strategy and planning that goes into a week’s worth of Twitter and Facebook posts.”

You won’t find him complaining, though. If anything else, he was made for this job. “I’ve always been active in social media in my personal life and showed an interest in it. To me, it was a perfect fit.”

What are your responsibilities as a Social Media Manager? What is a typical day like?

Patrick: Every day is different. I oversee all of our social media planning, execution, monitoring and analysis. I also support the PR side of things, writing and editing copy, maintaining media lists, internal communications…the list goes on!

How are you finding the job? Is it what you expected, or is the reality quite different from what you imagined?

Patrick: I love my job! I work with an amazing group of people, many of whom are the best in their fields! I had a very good idea about what to expect because I had worked in this environment for some time before accepting the position.

How is your work-life balance?

Patrick: I take my down time very seriously. Social media is a 24-hour job and it’s so important that social media managers take time off.

What do you like best about the job?

Patrick: The people I work with! I also love it when I get the chance to meet our fans and followers in real life at various events, such as a shopping event, for example. It really helps solidify the relationships we work so hard to create and maintain online. That’s the key to successful social media.

What aspects of the job could use some improvement?

Patrick: We’re constantly learning and I think it’s still soon for anyone to be an “expert” in social media. I’d be interested to learn more about contesting and awarding our most loyal followers. Loyalty programs are a huge area of opportunity.

What makes social media such a powerful tool for the retail industry?

Patrick: Organizations can’t afford to not be online. Social media has become the first go to for customers for any issue. Not being available online is the equivalent of having un-manned cash registers or locked fitting rooms in-store. If your organization’s social profiles don’t show up on a Google search, your competitors’ will.

What would be your advice to new grads hoping to follow a social media management career path, especially in retail?

Patrick: If you want to do work in social for a retailer, I highly suggest you work in the store first. This way you can really get to know the organization’s corporate culture, and you get a really good idea of what the store is all about.

Retail Week featuring jobs from Loblaws, Reitmans, Target, Starbucks, Rexall and TJX Canada / Winners Merchants International

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About the author

Jeleen Yu is a long-time TalentEgg contributor and former assistant editor. She graduated from Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines) in 2007 with a degree in business management. She was all set to start a career in the corporate world, but a sabbatical made her realize that her real passion lay in writing and the publishing industry. After serving as a writer and editor for the newsletter of a non-profit organization in the Philippines, she now resides in Vancouver and is currently working towards an editing certificate at Simon Fraser University.