Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Recently, I was preparing a presentation called B2B Social Media for VARTECH 2014 in New Orleans. 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 that this is a really important decision that could impact your company in a number of deep, potentially damaging ways if not carefully chosen.
Here are the qualities an effective social media manager should possess:
1. They’re a wordsmith
This person doesn’t have to be a journalism or PR major (although that would be great!) but they need to have a way with words. They have to have sharp enough writing skills to write headlines, tweets and status updates that cut through the clutter. More importantly, they have to clearly see the semi-visible line between playful/humorous/edgy and inappropriate/tactless. One wrong move and you could lose a customer (or a number of customers) forever.
2. They know your industry
Knowing the difference between a re-tweet and re-share or which networks support hashtags and which don’t is just not enough. When you chose someone to manage your social media strategy you have made that person the human voice of your company to the digital world. With that in mind, you had better chose someone who knows your business.
The last thing you want is your most highly-engaged customers interacting with a newbie employee who is spreading misinformation or appears clueless. Chose a veteran of your company or industry even if that means getting them the professional training they need on social media. Not only will they represent your company well from a knowledge standpoint, they should have the ability to tap the expertise from every part of your company. Even if the management of your SM properties is centralized, the information you communicate shouldn’t be.
3. They have good instincts
As mentioned above, a single bad move in the social universe can have a ripple effect through your organization. There are no shortage of examples of this, such as social media agencies losing large clients, 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. Your social media manger is empowered in a unique way as they have a direct pipeline to your customers. This is a delicate thing and should be guarded and entrusted to someone with sound decision-making.
4. They’re invested in and connected throughout your organization
It would be a mistake to chose an employee you either don’t value or who does not value their job. Social is an arena you must commit to or not do at all, and if you are not doing it at all, you must not be concerned with your company’s success into the (near) future. Please avoid throwing this very important task at an employee you think may not be around in a year’s time, as continuity is very important to your social presence.
In the event that your social media manager does move on or is let go, consider putting a succession plan in place. How will you deal with this publicly? In today’s increasingly transparent business environment I would consider making it public knowledge that your social media keys have been handed to a new driver.
5. They have digital savvy
To me, this is a given. If someone is going to be in control of your digital mouthpiece to your customers, they had ought to know their way around a computer. More importantly, they should be someone who is proactive about learning new digital tools for automation, scheduling and analytics.
6. They understand your 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 your SMM has 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.
Make sure the very important decision of who will execute your social media strategy: from interaction to scheduling to analytics is someone you can trust to be the voice of your company.