We touched on this briefly in an earlier post, but we wanted to take some time to really zero-in on one of the most important elements of a successful social media plan: the people who you will trust to implement your plan.
You can invest a great deal of time and money in developing a social media strategy, but if you don’t have the right people implementing your plan you run a very high risk of having the plan fail. Much like we talked about last week with the smart phone apps, many organizations fall into the trap of rushing into decisions to utilize social media or new media tools to communicate and fail to account for the sustainability of the plan. If you remember anything from today’s post, remember that successful social media strategies work because 1. there is buy-in and support from the top levels of leadership within the organization and 2. the people tasked with implementation are given the authority and the time needed to focus on executing the plan with excellence.
What we see happen many times is that one of the top leaders within an organization will suddenly feel an urgent need to “get on Facebook” or “start a blog” without a full understanding of what it takes to do these tasks successfully. This is not something you can simply delegate to the intern or the most junior person on the team and expect to see a valuable return; nor can you dump the work on your public relations or marketing teams and except them to implement the strategy in addition to what is already on their plates. The best way to implement a social media strategy is to hire someone and make implementation of the plan that person’s primary role. If you want your social media strategy to work, it must become a priority and it can’t take a back seat to other issues or “fires” that pop-up in the day-to-day management of tasks. This is critical because, the minute you disengage from your social media strategy, you essentially have to re-start the strategy from the beginning. It is next to impossible to just “pick up where you left off” when it comes to social media because of the pure “social” aspect of the medium. If you stop listening/responding to your audience, they will move on to someone else who is listening/responding and you stand the risk of losing a customer.
Finding the right person can be a challenge. Because of the popularity of these new communications tools, many people think that they are “experts” when really they are just super-users. For example, someone who spends their free time building their Farmville inventory on Facebook or re-tweeting everything they find online about Justin Bieber is not the kind of person you are looking to hire. The right person for this job will be one who gets their breaking news from Twitter and knows the difference between a Facebook fan page and a group. You want to hire someone who is listening and paying attention to what they are hearing online. The best person for the job will know which of your competitors are using social media and be intimately familiar with the content they are producing. Additionally, don’t assume that you need to hire someone young or that you can get away with paying entry-level salary for the position. Skill, not age, should be the foundation on which you make your hiring decision.
As you read this, you may be thinking that you can’t afford to hire someone for this task, or perhaps you are unsure your business really needs this type of strategy. Well, hang with us because in our next post we will look at some common mistakes and how to avoid them and give you a few best practices to keep in mind as you plan for appropriately staffing the implementation of your social media strategy.