7 reasons why companies need social media managers

There has been a lot of debate recently about the need for companies and organisations to employ social media managers and specialists in a dedicated role – the main criticism appears to be that the role isn’t needed because employees already use social media.

That might be the case in a limited number of small organisations, but someone will end up as an unofficial social media expert. And as someone who performed the role for a large organisation, I know there are a number of good reasons for having one person as the focal point – even if every employee is actively representing the group or company.

1. Justification: Are employees going to use social media effectively when they have senior managers questioning whether it’s worthwhile?

2. Guidelines: Most people have a reasonable amount of common sense, but if you haven’t got clear guidelines for employees to refer to if needed, you’ve got no excuse when they get things wrong. And all it can take is one personal attack for even the most responsible employee to make a mistake. That’s assuming they even keep up to date with the latest legalities of using social media in addition to their day job.

3. Analysis: Do you know what’s working? And is a social network referring the most traffic because of scale, or because other social networks are being ignored or done badly?

4. Co-ordination: Do you trust independant employees to know where exclusive news should be revealed first? Or could a status message or tweet destroy your carefully planned campaign? Is the right content going online at the right time, to coincide with the right development work?

5. Research and Development: Is Facebook more relevant to your company than Bebo? Will you reach the right people on Twitter? And should you be improving the forum on your site, or developing a widget for social networks? The answers are different for every organisation, and indeed, every campaign

6. Coordinating external resources: Do you know enough to decide between a good and bad external agency when it comes to social media? And in a large company, are you sure other departments aren’t hiring other agencies at the same time?

7. Crisis management: When something does go wrong, you need a plan in place, and someone who can manage an effective response.

Whether or not social media is a specialist role, or part of a wider remit, there needs to be someone with the authority and accountability to ensure that the work feeds into the wider business effectively, with an effect on product development, customer service, SEO, and business strategy.

Still waiting for the IT revolution…

Back in January 2007, I wrote about how ‘IT could lead the revolution‘, hypothesizing how the IT Support in a company could become valuable for more than just supporting locked down computers – and how they could lead change by allowing everyone to download, install and play with new internet technology, and that responding to the risks this inherently raises means they would be up-to-date and possibly even generating their own ideas and technology.

Since then, the rise of social media etc has seen even more demand for toolbar plugins and access to Adobe Air etc, yet i’m not aware of any firm with IT support that actively operates in this way.

So I’ll throw it back out there and see if anyone knows of a proactive IT dept which encourages users to experiment, and enjoys dealing with the challenges this creates – because there’s even more of a need for that support now than there was 22 months ago.

Particularly as it’s a great way to ensure that human on-site interaction is needed, safeguarding jobs and possibly driving new revenues, rather than increasing automation, documentation and distance encouraging outsourcing.

The inverse proportionality of Facebook applications to friendship…

As with any social network a pattern has emerged for me on Facebook.

The people closest to me, send the least application requests – and when they do, they’re pretty relevant and either useful or entertaining.

The people right on the very fringes on my network are the ones most likely to have sent me 20 pointless applications requests one after the other, meaning I’m going to delete all without even paying much attention.

At a time when I’m finding ways for a major company to choose quality over quantity for relevant communication, it’s ironic individuals, and in some cases, the users of that company’s products, are so prone to spamming without seemingly realising.