Tuesday Nov 19, 2013

How to Staff Your Organization for Social

HelpEvery company is different.  One size does not fit all. But with social spreading and integrating into multiple departments across the organization, it might be nice to have a little guidance on just how to staff for social.

Much is written about a mythical creature that can run 5-6 social channels by themselves; from strategy to content planning to content production to interdepartmental liaison to campaigns to internal cheerleader to community management (24/7 on each channel mind you) to analytics to reporting…and for $50k a year. Legend has it they fly in on unicorns and shoot candy out of one hand and champagne out of the other.

Sadly, far too many brands caught flat-footed by social see its growing number of functions and applications and conclude the “smart” play is to stack multiple, highly diverse skillset expectations onto one soul vs. actually resourcing social for maximum impact. If they were running a baseball team, they’d be sending their catchers out to pitch.

Marketingprofs reported businesses with revenues under $1 billion most likely have 1-5 employees dedicated to social. Others have NO employee dedicated to social. A Ragan survey shows 65% of social media leaders do social as an add-on to their other work. This is madness and will result in a horrible social customer experience for your fans.

So what should you look for, and in what order?

Priority Hire #1: Nothing will happen without someone managing every social channel your brand is on. Don’t low-ball this person. They’re literally going to be the public voice of your freaking brand. Kind of important right? They need great judgment, which can’t be taught. They need good intuition for what content to curate. They need a cool head and stamina. And if this person is all you’ve got, giving them the right tech tools for social media management shouldn’t even be up for debate.

Priority Hire #2: Nor will anything happen in terms of the engagement that makes social so powerful without a content creator. Without content, you have a stage and you’re putting nothing on it. That doesn’t make sense. This person has to be a writer, journalist, entertainer, and audio-visual producer. They have to be amazingly prolific with an ability to keep their finger on the pulse of your topic. If you’re lucky, they can also construct and run your content strategy and content calendar.

Priority Hire #3: What good is building that audience and putting out all that content if you don’t know how it’s doing? Analyst-types are the polar opposites of creative types. If you expect your writer and video producer to also be the best social analysts available, think again. Great analysts live to watch those social metrics and crunch the data so strategy adjustments can be made ASAP.

Priority Hire #4: Now that you’ve got the people who do the in-the-trenches work, you’re next salary allocation can go toward someone who operates at a higher level to put the pieces together into a more connected, coherent strategy. This person is the conduit to the C-suite, assembles the social stakeholders in various departments for input, enlists employees in the social effort and sets policy, fights for paid social budgets and content budgets, and has their eye on the business goals for social.

Where should priority #4 come from? The debate goes on. A Creative Group survey of ad and marketing execs had 39% of them saying PR is best suited to oversee social, with marketing right behind at 35%...interesting given how marketing has driven the social initiative to this point. But for all social hires, worry more about innate applicable talents and genuine passion for social over resumes and where they came from.

What all social hires (and the people hiring them) should grasp is that social is an around-the-clock, around-the-calendar affair. And if business is becoming more about marketing, and marketing is becoming more about trust & relationship building, and trust & relationship building is won via content and social…then look for such practitioners to continue becoming business’ most sought-after, in-demand MVP’s.

Photo: freedigitalphotos.net

Friday Feb 22, 2013

Community Managers: What, Who, Where, Why

trophyWe recently presented VistaPrint’s Jeff Esposito with the Oracle Community Manager of the Year award. The trophy is tall and shiny so we think he liked it. We read Jeff’s CM wish list, but we thought it might also be a good time to further remove any mystery around the CM position. What is their true role? Who makes a good CM? Where do we find them? Why are they so critical?


CMs are the bridge, the conduit, the front lines, the therapists, the entertainers, the advocates, customer service, the curators, the moderators, the publishers, the ambassadors, the face, the spokesperson, the brand personality, (I could go on).

In short, this person IS your brand. Given the enormity of that, the way the CM position has traditionally been staffed and resourced has been stunningly ill advised. Businesses are realizing it’s not a role that can be squeezed in as “part” of someone’s duties.

If your brand is a show, your CM is the host. Don’t be shocked if sometime in the very near future, the CM goes from one of the lowest paid to one of the most coveted, highly recruited positions at a brand. Their innate talents of entertaining, informing and relationship building are largely intuitive and organic (I know, two words not in most corporate dictionaries).


So how do we recognize the best ones?

  • They believe in your brand and products. They see the value proposition and genuinely want to tell the world.
  • They’re autonomous. It’s 24/7, always on. Attempts to impose a punch clock environment show a lack of understanding of the job and won’t end well.
  • They’re agile. Social technologies and behaviors change fast and often.
  • They’re creative and consistent. You can’t start a social channel then vanish.
  • They know how to communicate short, clear, and visually.
  • They know their audience.
  • They’re smart enough not to use social for desperate, aggressive pitching.
  • They’re patient and have thick skins.
  • They recoil at corporate marketing-speak. They communicate as human beings.
  • They’re good listeners.
  • They cultivate go-to people internally so they can get fans the answers they need.


So with an order that tall, where do you find these amazing people? Here are some suggestions…some expected, some out-of-the-box.

  • For big brands, draft CMs at smaller brands. Dazzle them with your grasp of the importance of the position.
  • PR People - used to representing brands, used to coming up with attention-getting ideas.
  • Radio Personalities - go on the air for hours at a time daily, creating original, compelling content that attracts, builds and holds an audience. Sound familiar?
  • Your Biggest Fan - They deeply self-identify with your brand. Could there be a stronger fan-advocate?
  • Writers/Journalists – great at knowing their audience. Very little content was created without a writer first sitting down at a blank page and making it un-blank.
  • Political Managers - a CM is trying to win their brand top of mind awareness, “votes,” and serve their constituents.


Why is it more important than ever to secure the right CM? Brands now understand social is not about fan-collecting. It’s about productive engagement, which is driven by content and relationships. If you have successful connections and relationships on social, they were built by a CM not a faceless corporation.

Get the right person or people. Let them practice their art and win for you. Encourage them to be forthcoming about what fans are saying, good or bad. Resource them with tools that help maximize their time and capabilities. Then enjoy the rewards of being a brand that took the Community Manager role as seriously as it should be.

Photo: stock.xchng


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