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[Interview] Working As A Social Media Editor - With Mohammad Ziyadah @ BBC

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[Interview] Working As A Social Media Editor - With Mohammad Ziyadah @ BBC

Wondering what defines the role of a social media editor?

Today I invited Mohammad Ziyadah - Social Media Editor at BBC - to share his experience as an editor and what skills you need to develop for this career path.

Managing all activities of BBC Arabic staff across the official social media platforms & chat apps, coordinating the social media activities, and running digital marketing campaigns via Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, and Instagram, for the last 15 years, Mohammad Ziyadah is a Social Media Editor at BBC.

Through my conversation with Mohammad I've learned what being a social media editor means, how to keep an online community engaged, what it takes to work for BBC, what skills you need to acquire for a social media editor and much more.

Let's dive in⇣


Working as a social media editor @BBC Arabic

What does it mean to develop a career as a social media editor? With Mohammad Ziyadah

  1. How does your day-to-day schedule look like?
  2. How do you manage to keep the BBC online communities engaged?
  3. What KPIs are you tracking to determine success on social media?
  4. What skills do you need as a social media editor?
  5. Could you share some social media editor “secrets” with us
  6. Any advice for someone who wants to become a social media editor?
  7. How is it to work for the BBC?
  8. Could you tell me something about one of the most important BBC campaigns on social media and which were the followings?
  9. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years working in this area?

1. Maria: How does your day-to-day schedule look like?


Mohammad: Preparations for my workday start right after I wake up and till I arrive at work. I check my inbox for any urgent emails, check my social media feeds for the latest updates and trends.


At work, I attend several daily editorial meetings to agree on the agenda of the day.


The rest of the day is split between reviewing official social media accounts, signing off content produced by my team, supporting the rest of the staff on any social media issues.


Sometimes I would need to intervene to resolve a complaint from a user or manage a growing crisis.


Also, I regularly check up on the progress of implementing my department’s social media strategy, including any training needs for journalists.


My job entails lots of collaborative working with other internal teams: marketing, digital development, business development, training and development & HR.


Even after my shift ends, I am always on call for any urgent social media issues, and I communicate with my team using several social media and messaging tools.

2. Maria: How do you manage to keep the BBC online communities engaged?


Mohammad: Social media has a life cycle, and it starts with trend spotting and identifying trending topics that are currently occupying our target audience.


We then decide which trending topic is suitable to be worked on editorially to add value and make it more appealing to our followers.


This is when we convert a trending topic into editorial output and then publish it across our official digital platforms: the website and social media.


As we publish, we think of which native formats to use for each platform and when to post it. This could be Stories on Instagram and Facebook or a twitter thread or moment.

Pay attention to your public

Mohammad: After content is published we monitor it to check how it’s performing, how our followers are responding and what questions they are asking. We respond to as many of them as quickly as possible.


Sometimes we notice our audience is interested in one topic more than the others or they are asking more questions than usual. We try to capitalize on this interest by either recycling this content or finding a way to develop this content further based on followers’ feedback.


Sometimes, we point our followers to previously published content if it might help to answer their queries.


Sometimes we reserve exclusive content to our social media followers to keep them engaged, and it works better when you make it a regular, timely task. For example, a weekly watch party or a daily animated gif.

3. Maria: What KPIs are you tracking to determine success on social media?


Mohammad: We have two types of social media KPIs.

  • The first is referrals from social media sites to BBC News websites. We measure this by unique weekly users.

  • The second is the number of weekly engaged users on each social media platform.
    We also look at video completion rate; total minutes viewed, and engagement rate.

Another valuable KPI is the gender split. We work to improve it and aim to reach a 50:50 ratio. We also have a budget assigned for digital marketing.


The BBC have annual/monthly/weekly targets associated with the main KPIs and editorial teams use internal and third-party tools to monitor performance against KPIs.

4. Maria: What skills do you need as a social media editor?


Mohammad: There are four main skills:

Strategic thinking: This is essential to be able to deliver the business needs and devise a social media strategy.


Resilience: Social media world is in constant change. With change comes challenges and pressure. Coping with this entails resistance.


Self-development: Social media editors should be able to keep themselves up-to-the-minute with the latest developments and trends affecting social media platforms and the broader digital landscape.


Editorial Judgement: to be successful in social media management, you need to have a solid content plan and editorial calendar that is advised by analysis of your market and the needs of your target audience.

5. Maria: Could you share some social media editor “secrets” with us?


Mohammad: Here are my ideas:

  • Always have a plan “B”. Social media is full of surprises.
  • Never over-subscribe. If you can’t deliver in time, refer up.
  • Get sign-off from all main stakeholders before announcing a social media strategy.
  • I never stop learning. Allow time for experimentation and creativity.
  • Never lose touch with your target audience. Never underestimate the importance of up-to-date market insights.
  • If you are not getting the right audience, change your content mix.
  • Polish your creatives and be consistent in your branding.
  • Never prioritize quantity over quality. Reach is good, but engagement is the real benchmark.
  • Respect your audience. Trust is hard-earned and easily lost.
  • Surprise your followers with exclusive content. Reward top fans for positive behavior.

Never loose touch with your target audience



6. Maria: Any advice for someone who wants to become a social media editor?


Mohammad: Here is my advice for someone who wants to become a social media editor:


Master the tools of the trade. You need to develop a mix of technical and editorial skills. Follow the latest updates from key social media platforms and their official partners. Try to fit this into your daily routine.


Decide on your preferred industry: News, fashion, sport or financial services. Build on your strengths and expertise to identify the area you feel more comfortable with.


Network with other social media editors. Join relevant groups. Don’t restrict yourself to the virtual world. Attend events, conferences.


Own your career. As a professional, your success is your responsibility. Keep focused on your most important target. If you hit too many blockers where you are; don’t waste your time. Find a better place and move on.

Your success is your responsibility.


7. Maria: How is it to work for the BBC?


Mohammad: BBC is a great place to be. You get to meet people from different parts of the world, and there is always something new to learn.


There is constant change at BBC, and this requires resilience and flexibility. Support is provided, and targets are delivered against all odds.


We put our audiences at the heart of what we do. This is our mission, and we take pride in catering for their needs.

8. Maria: Could you tell me something about one of the most important BBC campaigns on social media and which were the followings?


Mohammad: BBC has recently delivered a huge brand trust campaign across several language sections that proved successful and resonated well with social media audience.


The campaign made use of illustrations and creatives to communicate a message about BBC’s Unique Selling point: how BBC helps audiences to make more of their world.


9. Maria: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years working in this area?


Mohammad: There is a will, there is a way! Dream big, but work hard to realise it. Nothing is impossible to learn, or too difficult to achieve. If others can do it, so do you.

There is a will, there is a way


Final thoughts


This article is part of a series of interviews with social media strategists where we're trying to define what skills you need to develop for this job.

Check out more interviews here. 😉


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Maria Ganta

Maria Ganta

Marketing Coordinator @ Socialinsider

I love to explore the world and learn new things. I like to consider myself an optimist, a social media addict and a storyteller with a lot of imagination.

[Interview] Working As A Social Media Editor - With Mohammad Ziyadah @ BBC
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