Recently, I was preparing a presentation called B2B Social Media for a group of my company’s customers. The talk will cover the foundational questions of: why, where, what, how and finally the topic I have come here to discuss: who.
In covering the issues of voice, appropriateness and post frequency, or the “Rules of Engagement” as I dubbed them, I considered the thought process that should occur when a company chooses their social media manager. I realized this is a really important decision. One that impacts a company in a number of deep, potentially damaging ways if not carefully considered and chosen.
Here are the qualities an effective social media manager should display:
You don’t have to be a journalism or PR major (although that would be great!) but you need to have a way with words. You have to have sharp enough writing skills to write headlines, tweets and status updates that cut through the clutter. More importantly, you have to clearly observe the line between playful/humorous/edgy and inappropriate or tactless. One wrong move and you could lose a customer (or a number of customers) forever.
2. Industry Knowledge
Knowing the difference between a re-tweet and re-share or which networks support hashtags and which don’t is just not enough. When someone is chosen to manage a social media strategy they’ve been empowered as the human representative of a company in the social space. With that in mind, you had better be someone who knows the business.
The last thing a company wants is your most highly-engaged digital customers interacting with a newbie employee who is spreading misinformation or appearing clueless. Instead, they should choose a veteran of the company or industry; even if that means getting them the professional training they need on social media. Not only will that person represent the company well from a knowledge standpoint, they should have the ability to tap into the expertise from every part of the organization (a point we’ll touch on below). Even if the management of your social properties is centralized, the information being communicating outward should not be. Make sure you’re not only broadcasting marketing messages, but also sales, logistics, finance, HR, etc.
3. Good Instincts
As mentioned above, a single bad move in the social universe can have a ripple effect through an organization. There are no shortage of examples of this, such as: social agencies losing large clients over bad tweets, large masses of people being offended and wars of words beginning between business competitors. Pro tip: you want to avoid all of these potential disasters at all cost. The good part is that it’s easy.
Chose a person to manage your social accounts that has good instincts and doesn’t act on emotion. The social media manger is in a unique position as they have a direct pipeline to the customers. This is a delicate thing and should be guarded and entrusted to someone with sound decision-making.
4. Investment in and Connection Throughout the Company
It would be a mistake to chose an employee that isn’t highly-valued or who does not value their job. Social media is an arena that must committed to fully or not done at all. If the decision is made to ignore social media, you are telling customers you aren’t invested in a successful future. Companies shouldn’t choose a person who is unlikely to be around in a year’s time, as continuity is very important.
To be an effective social media manager, you must be well-connected throughout your company and able to determine which pieces of internal information are: 1) useful to your audience and 2) not detrimental to your company’s success (ie. gives away trade secrets).
5. Digital Savvy
To me, this is a given. If you want to be the digital mouthpiece for your company, you had better know your way around a computer. Link shorteners, effective hashtag use for audience growth and digital strategy are things you should have in your arsenal. More importantly, you should be proactive in learning new digital tools for automation, scheduling and analytics. You should learn to use the statistics and your brain to make informed decisions about what is working and what isn’t to tweak your strategy.
6. Understanding of Marketing and Sales Goals
Social media is simply another (great) marketing channel and a key point of a successful content marketing strategy. To put someone without a solid understanding of marketing in charge of your social media accounts is simply the wrong move. To do social successfully this person is going to be thinking and making decisions on their feet. You need someone who intuitively knows what type of posts and responses to customers serve your larger marketing and sales objectives.
I have the impression that some companies are beginning to default to their younger associates on account of them having a thousand Facebook friends or because they managed their fraternity’s twitter feed. While these things should not disqualify someone, they are certainly not where the consideration process should end. In the age where everyone under 30 is a social media expert, make sure you have prepared yourself with the necessary business and thinking skills to do an exceptional job.
One important person I have left out of consideration to manage the social media feeds for a company is someone from it’s high-level leadership. Obviously a high-ranking person in a company would understand appropriateness and the industry well enough to do the job, so assuming they could dedicate the time, they would also be great candidates.
Whether you aspire to become a social media manager or you are currently managing the social media strategy for your company, be trustworthy. Equipped yourself with the digital marketing knowledge and work to build important connections throughout your company – your content marketing strategy will be better for it!