As I pointed out in Part One, social media marketing is still figuring itself out, so finding the right person to be your social media manager is no easy task. Simply charging the youngest person in the company to handle such an increasingly vital and visual role just does not make sense. Just consider how today I walked into my local Verizon store to ask some questions for my elderly parents.
"Is this for you?," she replied.
I paused for a few moments until the Frankenstein veins on the side of my head stopped throbbing, then replied: "What's your cancellation policy?"
What we've all learned very quickly is that social media is akin to preparing blow fish, or the Japanese sushi known as "fugu". Prepared correctly and you'll be treated to one of the most delicious meals you have ever had. Prepared incorrectly, and it could very well kill you. With social media, say the right things and you'll increase awareness, trust, leads, sales, and loyalty. Say the wrong things and you'll get the opposite results.
To prevent these kinds of public relations catastrophes, and compensate for the ever growing knowledge base necessary to perform effectively, more and more organizations are splitting the social media workload into newly created specialized positions like social media strategist, social media content creator, community manager, and the list continues to grow. They are creating singularly-focused cookie-cutter positions with sole focus sometimes on one site: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on.
This kind of social media segmentation may work for some multinationals, but I see this trend as a danger for mid-sized and smaller companies that require most of their employees to wear many hats. They are seeking out prospects whose sole purpose and focus has been social media. Some forgo even getting a Director of Marketing in lieu of a social media manager, an e-mail manager, and SEO manager, etc. But social media is just a part of a marketing plan, and understanding how it fits in to the larger scheme is more important than knowing how to get more Facebook fans. Your new social media manager might be great at growing your Twitter following, but if they have little to no experience in branding, those twitter followers might be useless.
Therefore, your social media manager must have in-depth knowledge of social media as well as search engine optimization, search engine marketing, landing page creation, blogging and most of all public relations. It's impact is immediate therefore a social media manager needs to know how it all fits in with the overall marketing strategy. These candidates do exist but they are harder to find and understandably come at a higher salary.
But when push comes to shove, if you have to choose, hire a marketing pro who's learning social media rather then a social media guru who knows little about marketing. So rather then choose a social media manager based solely on their age or their social media experience, find one that knows and understands that social media may be a superstar, but it's also part of a larger team of marketing and advertising efforts.