Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Social Media Star

One of the challenges of marketing is finding the right person to "man" the social media fort. In many cases, companies seem to choose someone young and hip who currently uses the technology. I've always disagreed with that approach.

Social media is here to stay. And it is a huge part of the brand's look/feel as well as a vital component of communication strategy. We've all heard the phrase viral. In plain language, it means one off-brand comment from your SM  minder can tank your reputation and undo all the work you've done to build your company.

Communication is our newest form of currency; social media is queen with content as king. Familiarity with the medium is not enough. The person handling your social media strategy may be young or old but should always be someone who understands the whole marketing strategy of the company and its brand.

Mix

The mix of social media is as critical as keeping current. Many companies have Facebook; far less are using it effectively. It's not a space for every business; there are others which may be better. One example - if your business caters to motorcycle enthusiasts,  Biker or Not means everyone on the site is pre-qualified.  If you have limited time/resources, then concentrating them in a target rich environment is only good business. Sometimes it takes a seasoned person with real-world business experience, rather than just a social media user, to recognize this.

Use by Employees

Another concern, one not being addressed by a lot of small and mid-sized Midwest businesses I work with/for, is how employees use social media. This is critical in our information rich world and should be addressed in the employee handbook. Every employer should have a policy on social media usage - not to limit employee freedom but to put structure around the usage in relation to the company's name and most certainly, on usage during company's time.


Is Social Media "Real" Work?

Let's not forget, social media is fun. It's interaction - and gratification. As such, the person handling the social media can experience workplace jealousy from co-workers. What co-workers may not realize is that managing social media is not a 9-to-5 gig. Every Social Media Strategist I know has a smart phone - loaded with apps to help manage the information flow. The back-and-forth of managing negative Facebook posts, answering questions on Twitter, responding to Pinterest posts, staying up-to-date on new technologies - Path, Fancy and more emerging every day complete with tools (Tumblr, BuzzFeed, Buffer, etc). The information flow never stops - keeping it going is the job of the SM Strategist and it goes far beyond 9-to-5. Plus on a good day, it is fun! Part of the communications task for the job of Social Media is making sure everyone understands how it adds to the bottom line. I recommend the use of metrics and reports.


To think about...
How is your company addressing this issue? Better to be proactive than reactive!
Great article from the Wall Street Journal on what it means to hire in an online star.

Update - September 2013 - great article from one of my favorite Social Media engagement thinkers, Cheryl Burgess.  "Does Your Social Employee Know the Why of Your Brand?"
I think the WHY is supremely important, as this entry notes.