“We’ve got Social Media covered” is a common (problematic) sentiment among many businesses. Having someone haphazardly post on Facebook is just not enough. However, that’s not to say that hiring an agency beats assigning the task to someone internal. Anything can still go wrong- that is the scary and challenging beauty of where marketing has arrived. There is something to be said for the positive effects of giving employees in an organization a voice about what they know best- their product. I’ve read a few articles lately stressing the importance of reminding everyone on board that they represent their brand in every customer interaction (isn’t that a given?). Alexis Karlin’s post “Are Brands Socially Disconnected” illustrates the point that whether or not you have the sweetest tweeter money can buy, a company is still only as strong as its weakest link. See a related line from poynter.com coverage of recent NY Times elimination of Jennifer Preston’s social media editor position:
“Social media can’t belong to one person; it needs to be part of everyone’s job,” Preston said. “It has to be integrated into the existing editorial process and production process. I’m convinced that’s the only way we’re going to crack the engagement nut.”
Maybe it will take another ten years for SM fluency (operational definition: basic familiarity and proficiency/absence of Twitter xenophobia) to be an assumed prerequisite for being hired, like Outlook or Excel skills are today. Granted, even in 2020, what an agency or external SM strategy consultant will provide on top of this general SM literacy should still be, theoretically, expansive and singular. I.e., worthwhile.
Picture this: A mobile, portable device for employees, installed on most employees’ desks (assuming physical office presence is still quotidian in the future). “Installed” is too physical a word. Let’s say projected, beamed, holographically produced when relevant. Everyone follows the company on the future equivalent of Twitter (which will be far more customizable and include secure gateways and a totally evolved hashtag methodology that surpasses even Google’s instant predictive search). People from all departments use this tool to communicate to each other and/or to customers when appropriate. In fact, if you think you can invent this tool now, please contact me about our startup- @emilybinder
If social media is part of every employee’s job description, then how do we ensure every employee is really representing the company’s point of view? In a private company, this is much easier to manage. In a public company, the potential risk is enormous. I like your suggestion of putting more secure gateways on the communication channel. It would only take one disgruntled employee one tweet to cause a PR firestorm that should never have occurred in the first place.
That’s a really good point, Steve. In my vision, the internal gateway for communication would be secure, but the stream would resemble Twitter. I’d like to eventually see social media fluency as an assumed quality that most people have in business, especially in marketing. However, not every single employee would have access to posting on the company’s behalf. That would definitely put any strategy at risk. So much careful planning goes into an editorial calendar.
Maybe overall, the import is having everyone value and basically understand social, especially the underlying concept that everything one does that represents the brand– whether on the phone, online, in print, in the grocery store line, or on Twitter– matters. As everything becomes more recorded and publicized as technology evolves, this will be even more salient. (A la “the internet is written in ink.”)