Do You Need a Social Media Manager?

For many of the plugged-in generation, the idea of spending their working hours hanging out on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites sounds like a dream job.  From a corporate perspective, the question of when you should bring the social media function in-house is an important issue.

This summer, MTV with the sponsorship of American Express’s Zync Card held a nationwide search for the MTV Twitter Jockey or TJ for short. In true social media fashion, the three-month competition sourced candidates, provided Twitter challenges, included public voting, and measured sentiment and influence. Young, Fat and Fabulous Blogger, Gabi Gregg was the lucky winner.

MTV’s TJ search holds lessons for companies looking to hire a social media specialist. The youth oriented MTV wanted to expand its ability to engage their fans where they spent their time online. In MTV’s case, they used the hiring process to engage contestants and viewers. Further, MTV supported the initiative with cross platform advertising and a sponsor also interested in reaching the same population.

7 Questions to Determine Whether You Need a Social Media Manager

The fact that companies are starting to ask whether they need to create a social media position signals that social media has reached a tipping point. Until now, many firms have used consultants and agencies to help them develop and execute their social media strategy. This topic was the focus of an engaging OMMA Global New York panel representing a number of major corporations including Citi, Pepsi and Sony Electronics. To help your firm examine its social media needs as they relate to headcount, here are seven questions:

  1. When do you hire? From an agency perspective, this can be a big question because the subtext is when do we transfer this work over to client staff. Once you can prove social media’s ROI, you can sell forming this position to senior management. Unfortunately, this can be a challenge since many businesses have had difficulty measuring tangible return from social media. If you’re having difficulty assessing your social media impact, consider using simpler measures like increased customers, improved sales and betterearned media. [Here’s a list of social media metrics to help you develop your indicators.]
  2. What job level is needed? This question goes to your firm’s level of social media involvement. Simplified, there’re three major job categories. Bear in mind that these functions assume monitoring and analyzing the environment is going to occur in any case, either internally or externally.
    • Content development manager focuses on creating engaging content related to your offering and participating in the conversation, either across several different platforms or focused on a specific entity like Facebook.
    • Community manager concentrates on building and engaging with your community of fans and the public. This function requires a better set of interaction strengths.
    • Social media director is a higher-level position that sets overall strategy and spends time working across the organization. Focused on integrating social media into each corporate function to make it a more organic process, this jobs requires strong political skills and management support.
  3. Where does the social media position report? This depends on the organization. The main options are marketing, PR, communications and customer service. For example, Frank Eliason was in customer service at Comcast and is now in marketing at Citi. What’s important is how the position is defined and the senior management support it has within the organization.
  4. How do you select a candidate? While this sounds like a question for your HR staff, it involves critical considerations for your social media efforts. Here’re some options.
    • Social media expert who has a well established brand in the social media ecosphere. Are they looking to build their brand or yours? How can your company benefit from this association? Also, are they engaged across a range of platforms or only on one? There are some high profile social media experts who’ve made this transition including Frank Eliason, Scott Monty and Paul Dunay.
    • Internal staff. They know your brand and corporate culture. But how social media savvy are they?
    • Influencer who already has an engaged following somehow related to your brand. How do you identify these people? Is there anyone who’s already part of your organization who fits this bill?
  5. What questions do you ask when interviewing prospective hires? It can be difficult to discern candidates’ effectiveness. Because not every company can run a public campaign like MTV, here’re a few questions to help structure your conversation:
    • What do you read on a regular basis?
    • How do you find out about new technologies?
    • How do you spend your time on social media platforms? Which ones do you use and why?
    • Do you create content online? If so where and why?
    • Does your content appear on SERPs for the keywords in their area of expertise?
  6. How do you use external resources? In the short term, consultants and agencies are useful for planning and executing social media campaigns. The issue is how do you bring your staff up to speed to manage costs while incorporating external support where appropriate. For some, outsiders may perform content creation and other forms of creative while employees are the firm’s public face.
  7. Is your company ready to change its culture? Once companies start to acknowledge that they need an employee responsible for social media interaction, the management team must understand that this is an early step towards tearing down the walls between your silos when it comes to your organization’s communications. The public does not care about your internal divisions. To them your brand is a corporate responsibility

Hiring a social media manager can be a difficult process. So it’s a good idea to first assess your firm’s level of social media engagement and the importance of integrating social media across your organization. Showing a return on your investment can be an important step in getting management support for this potentially important initiative.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: bgottsab via Flickr

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  • http://reallifemadman.wordpress.com Marjorie Clayman @margieclayman

    What a great and thorough article, Heidi! I think you do a great job of covering all of the bases here.

    In reality, I think an agency could hire a Social Media person as well and carry this work for clients, but there needs to be a change in how agencies are perceived in some cases. Rather than an external appendage agencies can be brought into the “family” as it were. It would be a new thing to try for both parties, but I think it could work – but then all of the stress (financial and emotional) would be on the agency too.

    It’s a lot to think about. Great job!

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Margie- Thank you for taking the time to comment. Your points are valid, especially for firms that don’t understand social media and/or have limited internal resources. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • Thomas Moradpour

    Fantastic article, with all the right questions. I’m forwarding this to all my marketing teams! Tom