Fire your social media manager
Ian Lurie Jan 6 2010
Congratulations! You’ve hired a social media manager! Now you can stop wasting your time talking to customers online, or blogging, or anything else in that weird online world. She can handle it all, right?
If your company has a ‘social media manager’, and she’s responsible for all online conversations, you’ve both failed.
Social media is a tool, not a technique
Social media is another way to talk to current and potential customers. Like the phone on your desk, or e-mail.
Do you have a single ‘phone manager’ at your office? Probably not (I hope).
Do you have an ‘e-mail manager’ who handles all sending and receiving of e-mail? Again, no.
Everyone uses these tools to do their jobs. It’s part of the routine.
Social media is rapidly becoming the same thing: A tool, not a technique. Your social media manager’s job is not to take the job of online communications away from everyone else. Her job is to help everyone else use it to better help customers and build the business.
Right now you’re saying oh my GOD we won’t get ANY WORK DONE if we spend all day on Twitter/Facebook/whatever! Stop for a second. What’d everyone say when e-mail arrived as a business communications tool? That it would grind your company to a halt. Yet you use it, and it helps you get work done.
What the social media manager should do
Continuously train you and your team to talk with customers on Twitter, Facebook, via your company blog and through whatever other channels your customers use. Note I said ‘continuously’. She can’t sit you all down in a room for 4 hours, do a brain dump and turn you into capable online communicators. It’s a one-step-at-a-time thing.
She should be sitting next to a customer service person while they help someone out via Twitter. She can help you answer a snarky comment on your blog without alienating your entire online customer base. The learning – and the training – never stop.
Monitor conversations about your brand. Your social media manager operates your company’s online listening post. Her job is to know when someone speaks well or ill of you before you do. Oh – ‘monitoring’ includes ‘analytics’, by the way.
And, she must craft strategy. She’s the person who figures out how social media will help your company grow, and how to tap it as a resource. It’s another arrow in your internet marketing quiver. Her job is to make sure that arrow lands on target.
It’s not optional any more
Wow, this is a lot more work than you thought. Maybe you can just skip it.
A social media strategy, and a person to drive it, are no longer optional. Nor is getting every single customer-facing person at your company comfortable using the most common channels, like Twitter.
OK, don’t fire your social media manager
Don’t fire her! Give her the right job. Your social media manager is a training asset, a strategic expert and a monitoring specialist.
Focus on those three tasks, and soon social media will be a standard tool for everyone at your company, just like that phone on their desks.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More