I feel bad for social media people. Full disclosure: I am one. Not just the stuff I do for this site, which is mostly just shitposting on twitter, but an actual social media manager/content specialist at my day job. I don’t run some big account or anything, I work for a company department that manages a large number of small specialized accounts, but I am one of those people who spends his days crafting and curating facebook posts and answering online reviews on behalf of clients. It’s not a bad job, but it has given me some perspective and sympathy for anyone who does run these accounts and the absolute abuse and nonsense you can find yourself dealing with every day.

Social media people rarely have much power in the grand scheme of things. They are ultimately just the front line soldiers of marketing departments. The joke is that interns run the social media accounts of teams and such, but that’s not true either. A company isn’t going to trust an intern with a brand’s social account unless the brand is small or doesn’t really care about social media. A football team social media account is not run by an intern. I’d wager a guess that the social account is probably run mainly by one experienced person, but likely a small team. You don’t want just one person with account control, otherwise you might get someone who forgets to log out and does something like the famous Chargers PF Changs tweet (which is still up somehow?) or worse, doesn’t log out on purpose and burns a bunch of bridges in protest of something.

But the life of a social media manager is riding a very fine line between a lot of sides. You want to engage the audience and generate fun as much as you can, but you have to do so in a way that:
1. actually pleases a large amount of people and
2. doesn’t piss off your superiors or customers
If you get too creative, you run the risk of making the dreaded “bad tweet” that irritates a substantial group of people, worst of all being your bosses. If you play it too safe, your stuff quickly becomes incredibly generic and boring and gets no engagement results. If you think this is easy, I can assure you, it’s harder than you think. Companies will usually err on the side of the latter overall because no PR controversy is usually better than lots of them. Not that they don’t also go straight for the controversial on purpose sometimes. The stupid Burger King tweet from a few weeks ago saying women belong in the kitchen was clearly a calculated move meant to invoke the exact response it did. It worked. People talked about Burger King all day long.

I don’t know how Burger King’s social department operates but my guess is not that the guy tweeting those stupid takes was the same person who came up with it. It was probably his bosses. Even Wendy’s, an account that does free itself up to be snarky and mean, is still heavily curated and measured and everything has to get run by the bosses. Social Media people are just the poor saps on the front lines who have to make sure the wording is perfect, send it out into the world, and spend the rest of the day trying to deal with the results in a way that won’t ruffle any feathers.

That’s why I feel bad whenever a team does something stupid or loses a game. The guy behind the account has to sit there and face the public in a way that the coaches or management never do. At most, the players and coaches face a small team of media members. Social account managers face the unwashed, online masses. These poor souls get up knowing they have to try and pretend that signing Andy Dalton was cool and what Bears fans wanted, and then sit there and take it when hundreds or thousands of people use them as the outlet for their frustration and mockery. You have to sit there looking out for legitimate gripes that you have to respond to, knowing that no matter what you say will result in legions of dumb idiots using horrible words at you. It is small comfort knowing that you, personally, aren’t the one they are mad at, but it can still be exhausting.

Social managers aren’t some persecuted group or anything, but if you ever want to be mad or judgey, try to remember that the people behind that screen probably aren’t the people you are actually mad at in the same way that the comcast customer service drone you are on the phone with about bullshit charges isn’t the one who put those charges on you, just the poor sap the people who did put on the front line to intercept your anger. I do not envy the Bears social media team for this upcoming season. They have a lot of insults to face.