Samantha Amjadali

How to choose a great social media person/team

I recently had a rather disturbing discussion with a gentleman who suggested his best strategy for finding a great social media person for his organisation was to find someone "young who loves Facebook - and has more than 1000 friends". Wow. No offense, sir, but that's kinda crazy!

digital media guruBelieve it or not, social media is an art and given how important it’s going to be for business in 2012 and beyond, it’s an art you want to get right – or find someone who is already a social media artist.

Good social media requires a delicate mix of several elements; an understanding of the “lingo” and technology; an appreciation for the need to build and maintain a community; a measure of legal awareness and common sense and, of course, a modicum of personality as well as the ability to sell a brand or product – without actually selling it (or worse, over selling it).

It’s rare to find all these qualities in a single person, either inside the company or outside. So, organisations are desperately trying to find a happy medium between in-house and outsourced resources who can manage their social media.

Should companies outsource their social media efforts?

Well, now, that very much depends on the skills already to be found within your organisation.

If there aren’t any socially media savvy (and socially media responsible) employees in your stable, then yes, you should absolutely outsource the role.

The real problem is that too many people today hang up the social media shingle and call themselves gurus and pros when their knowledge is largely technical and extends to little more than an ability to link  their Twitter profiles to Facebook. Anyone can do that.

Because so few companies actually “get” social media, let alone appreciate the importance of the role or the potential for it in business, they tend to hire people who appear to talk the talk and walk the walk  – or bright youngish things with more than 1000 friends on Facebook, apparently!

Know that there are some truly brilliant and savvy social media marketers out there, you just have to keep looking – and, like a great mechanic or dentist, if you find them, do not let them go regardless of whether they are outside your company or inside it.

When it comes to tone, investment and a knowledge of corporate culture, there is an obvious and very real value in having your own in-house social media person running things from within your company.

However, if you don’t have such a person or group internally and must go outside, ensure your third-party social media people know what they’re doing, that they truly understand your brand and are wary of the potential legal pitfalls of social media – as well as the potential power. This may take time, just as inculcating a new employee into your company's culture takes time, but it's worth it and the right person or team will have no trouble slotting in and representing your company as one of your own.

That’s my two-cents worth! Why not share yours?


COMMENTS

Posted by Sheena Wong, 16 March 2012

I feel that having an in-house social media executive might be more beneficial to a company in general as opposed to outsourcing it since he/she will be more likely to have a better grasp of the company’s work culture, upcoming events, new projects that it is undertaking and such. This might not be conveyed timely (or might not be conveyed at all) to the company placed in charge of a brand’s social media platforms so I feel that it is best to leave it to an employee.

Posted by Tracy Donoghue, 25 April 2012

Hi Samantha,
I wanted to ask you a question. If we outsource our social media to a small advertising agency and there are issues with what is communicated online - unhappy customers etc. Who is legally responsible? They are proposing a scripted response schedule but in general will be answering on behalf of the company - we just don't have the resources.
Hope you can help
Tracy

Posted by Samantha Amjadali, 18 May 2012

Hi, @Sheena Wong. Yes, that's always, absolutely the preferable option, but it's not always possible, either due to budgetary constraints or, more likely, a lack of suitable staff.

While an internal person is always going to have a better grasp of, as you say, the company's culture and knowledge of upcoming events etc, that knowledge is useless if it's not conveyed appropriately to the outside world. Also, having worked with many companies as an agency, I know that, certainly after getting to know the people and culture and company ethos, I feel very much part of the company and not like a contractor.

That said, several of my clients outsource their social media purely because they don't feel their internal staff have the skills, knowledge or expertise to, as one client puts it, "be let loose on the world in our name," which is quite ironic because, well, you'd think they'd be the best people to convey a message! It's very much horses for courses and, though I always ask clients if there is someone internally who can be trained, you'd be amazed at how many people simply say, "Sam, here are the keys, please just drive the darn car!" LOL

Posted by Samantha Amjadali, 18 May 2012

Hi, @Tracey. Great question! I'm not a lawyer, but I assume that would depend very much what was written and what the issue is, but also how much authority you give to the agency.

Whatever the issue, there are going to be responses that are reasonable and others that are clearly unreasonable regardless of who is posting. As long as they're directed to take the most measured approach in all situations, as well as provided with scripted responses your company has approved, the agency's suggestion for a scripted response route are fine. Should anything come up that falls even slightly outside those responses (and it shouldn't happen often), they should know that the matter must be brought to the attention of a designated person within your organisation immediately. That person would have the authority to alter the scripted response, which ensures that whatever wording is used, is approved - and vetted - by a insider who may have a more appropriate response. This approach ensures you're not burdened by the small, daily jobs associated with running social media, but that you are aware of and are able to control things if anything urgent comes up.


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Samantha Amjadali Watermelon Media Samantha Amjadali
Company: Watermelon Media
Position: Director
Samantha Amjadali owns Watermelon Media, a full-service digital agency based in Melbourne, Australia. Watermelon Media specialises in helping businesses and corporates improve their digital marketing and social media strategies, but also their appearances among the public and the media Read Samantha's full bio

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