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The Realities of Being A Black Social Media Manager

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Most people have a pre-existing perception of what the life of a social media manager is like. Social media managers having access to glamorous events, better work-life balance than most, and more engaging day-to-day tasks are common tropes that an outsider to the industry may believe in.

But those in the industry are aware of the challenges that social media managers face such as extended work hours, difficulties in navigating client relationships, and constant scope creep. In addition to the standard difficulties that come with being a social media manager, being a Black social media manager in particular comes with its own set of challenges as well. 

According to findings from Zippia, only 4.3 percent of social media managers identify as Black or African-American. This lack of diversity in the digital marketing space exacerbates the standard difficulties within this field and creates unique challenges for Black digital marketers. Black social media managers are constantly navigating culture, interacting with current events, and attempting to diversify the social media marketing landscape as a whole. All of this is done as part of, but also in addition to our normal jobs. 

In recent years, companies have made a public push to highlight their commitment to improving diversity and inclusion. For Black social media managers, this means that we have been asked now more than ever for our opinions on DEI best practices. The problem? We are not DEI experts nor consultants. While lived experience can be a great resource to provide input and recommendations on how to make spaces more inclusive, it does not serve as an immediate qualifier for a DEI professional. 

During times like Black History Month or after a public scandal involving racist acts, Black social media managers are often expected to weigh in with little-to-no input from their peers on the best ways to post content that will position companies in the best light. This expectation of an authoritative voice on diversity and inclusion is harmful to Black social media managers for various reasons. One reason is that we often experience an extra layer of pressure having to counsel non-black peers through nuanced conversations, and we are often asked to simplify ideas online that are not in the least bit simple. Sometimes this ask for expertise based on lived experience can also end up extending past digital marketing duties and into company norms. Oftentimes, this pressure to serve as DEI experts add to our workload and takes up emotional space. And despite the consultations  that we give, we are not paid for it. 

Finally, a unique challenge for Black social media managers is diversifying the digital space. Social media managers have the power to advocate for diverse representation in the imagery used on client platforms, the holidays they chose to celebrate, and the language that they use online to discuss subject matter. For Black social media managers, there can be a desire to increase Black representation by highlighting Black creators or leaning in to the experiences of people of color in our social media copy. 

But this push for representation in our digital strategies may not always come intuitively. For instance, many will recall the case of Jalaiah Harmon and Charli D’Amelio. Harmon, a young Black girl, is the original creator of the 2019 popular Renegade TikTok dance. Although Jalaiah created the dance, Charli D’Amelio and other non-black teens partook in a common practice at the time of reposting a version of the dance without crediting the original creator. As the dance trend grew bigger, so did D’Amelio’s audience– eventually positioning her to become the most followed creator on the app until 2022 when she was dethroned by another Black creator, Khaby Lame. How does this relate to Black social media managers? 

On platforms on which Black culture is a consistent driver for viral trends, Black social media managers are often faced with a dilemma: do we amplify Black creators to increase representation or do we participate in the online gentrification of Black culture by amplifying non-black creators who may boost our engagement and reach? It has become confusing to navigate one’s personal identity and how to draw from that identity in a sector that tends to contribute to the erasure of Black voices. Because there are so few Black social media managers in our field, it can also be challenging to advocate for representation within our content because our employers may not have the same connection to certain subject matter that we do. Balancing career growth and opportunity with the desire to reflect our values can be very difficult for Black social media managers. 

Despite its complexities, being a Black social media manager can also be very rewarding. This position allows us to think creatively, enjoy flexibility in our workplace, and explore different industries that need social media management support. For those interested in learning how to make the experiences of your Black social media managers, continue to think critically into the specific steps you are taking to encourage diversity in your work culture and prepare yourself to foster and retain Black talent by being truly open to engaging in new conversations. For the Black social media managers reading this post, I see you and am proud to do this work alongside you!

xx,
Ariel

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AJOLOGY

What started as a design portfolio has grown into a creative communications wellspring for service providers who desire the impact of social media for their business without the burden of the time it requires to succeed. I work to empower industry experts and thoughts leaders to maximize their revenue and time through comprehensive social strategies. Our stories are our most powerful weapon in business, allow me to tell yours.

AJOLOGY

What started as a design portfolio has grown into a creative communications wellspring for service providers who desire the impact of social media for their business without the burden of the time it requires to succeed. I work to empower industry experts and thoughts leaders to maximize their revenue and time through comprehensive social strategies. Our stories are our most powerful weapon in business, allow me to tell yours.

AJOLOGY

What started as a design portfolio has grown into a creative communications wellspring for service providers who desire the impact of social media for their business without the burden of the time it requires to succeed. I work to empower industry experts and thoughts leaders to maximize their revenue and time through comprehensive social strategies. Our stories are our most powerful weapon in business, allow me to tell yours.

AJOLOGY

What started as a design portfolio has grown into a creative communications wellspring for service providers who desire the impact of social media for their business without the burden of the time it requires to succeed. I work to empower industry experts and thoughts leaders to maximize their revenue and time through comprehensive social strategies. Our stories are our most powerful weapon in business, allow me to tell yours.

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