At StrategicAmpersand, we manage many social media programs for clients, as well as provide support to in-house teams. We’ve seen and discussed, a lot of social strategy. And there is one mistake that brands – B2B or B2C – make in their social media strategy that is often repeated.
Placing inexperienced staff, or interns, in charge of social media strategy.
Why is this a mistake? Aren’t younger staff millennials, born with a smartphone in hand?
Millennials are familiar with tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. They usually have their pulse on what is trending and how their peers are utilizing assets like web graphics and memes. In fact, they are great resources for new ideas and social media tactics. But that doesn’t mean they are experienced with how to leverage those platforms for your brand, or the appropriate messaging required to run your social strategy. Brands have to stop confusing familiarity with experience.
This is particularly true in the B2B space, where messages are more sophisticated and sales channels more complex. B2B social media requires a refined understanding of your business and how it operates, an understanding that generally isn’t found in junior or temporary (intern) staff.
Social media platforms are global, public vehicles for your brand messages, sales efforts and reputation. Significantly, these messages also reach an audience of millions – direct and unfiltered. Put another way, who does your brand usually place in charge of direct communications with your customers and prospects?
This is an important question to ask. The answer is likely not interns or juniors. Social media, just like PR, marketing and advertising, requires a level of skill, understanding and experience to be utilized effectively and responsibly.
So how can your brand avoid this mistake? When deciding who should manage your social media program, ask these five questions:
1. Can they describe our products and services, their features and benefits and identify the needs of our customers and prospects?
2. Can they describe our competitive advantages?
3. Can they articulate our brand messages?
4. Is this person able to align social media to our business goals three-, six- and 12-months in the future?
5. Are they able to manage a crisis and execute a comprehensive communications plan?
Interview the folks you’ve entrusted your brand and social communications to. Ask these questions. See how adept they are at answering, as well as thinking on their feet, because they’ll need to be skilled at that as well. If the answer is no, or maybe to any of these questions, it’s time to reconsider who is executing your social media.
Social media is a long-term communications strategy, not a short-term campaign. Brands shouldn’t enter into it lightly or underestimate its potential to help – or harm – their business. Junior staff and interns should be a part of your social team, but social management and strategy should be left to experienced communicators with a deep understanding of your brand AND social best practices.
In this capacity, agencies can also complement in-house communicators in managing your social accounts. Agencies, especially PR and marketing shops, are experienced at handling multi-faceted projects. They are staffed with professional writers and communicators who are trained in how to properly use social media for branding. Agencies can scale immediately to handle a sudden social media success or crisis, and provide counsel on strategy. Often agencies have integrated digital and creative teams that can build assets such as infographics and video, giving in-house communicators more assets to leverage.
Do you agree that social media strategy is best left to experienced communicators? Please leave a comment below.