As providers of outsourced social media community management services to medium and smaller businesses, we definitely relate to this well-observed post about the stereotypical perceptions of the role of social media managers.
The pervasive myth about Social Media community management we’ve encountered among small and medium businesses is that “anyone can do it”. We believe this stems from a misunderstanding of the power and versatility of what we call the ‘Frankenstein medium’.
Lets put it in ‘old media’ terms. Would you really prefer the intern, your nephew or the junior employee you deem ‘young enough to understand these things’ to:
- Publish a daily brochure for your business that is potentially seen by hundreds of thousands of people?
- Be a one-person, 24/7 call center that is increasingly the preferred first point of contact for irate customers?
- Let them speak for the brand or business on a live public platform like a radio or TV show?
- Allow them to design advertising and imagery, making decisions about how to effectively and consistently portray your brand’s story to potential customers?
- Analyse and interpret market data to focus your targeted marketing?
- Take responsibility for the management of your reputation in the marketplace?
Even if you can afford to dedicate a full-time person for this role, it is no mean feat finding the rare, multiskilled chameleon with the experience and confidence to deliver such a wide variety of key outcomes is no mean feat. Especially in what usually is a relatively junior role in the organisation and on the budget of a smaller company. (See this infographic and this blog post about how companies are structuring themselves for social media failure.)
To stretch the monster metaphor: in order to give the representation of your brand or business the spark that brings it to life and makes it truly valuable, the most effective social media manager would be someone who stitches together skills you would normally find in a number of departments and disciplines.
This special individual would need to be confident and assertive enough to be a one-person champion for social media in a business where the majority of senior colleagues are likely to be ignorant of the power of the medium. They would also need to kick down some big doors to get access to all the information customers might be demanding from them at short notice.
This is why larger organisations who can afford a multidisciplinary team still have the advantage on social media, even though the platforms themselves don’t really favour those with huge budgets. Such a team can bring the marketing, analysis, communications (verbal and visual), quality control, strategic insight and empowerment to ensure social media brand representation that is on-brand, engaging and able to capitalise on every opportunity for positive interaction and lead generation.