By Li Evans
Lets face it, Social Media can be pretty tough sell to the senior management or to clients who have just gotten their arms around the whole "SEO and PPC thing". Trying to force them into putting social media into a marketing plan can be a pretty tough sell if you are just looking at it from a dollars and cents perspective, or even a links & search engine results perspective. The toughest thing with social media is that its rough on seeing the immediate return - except when it's 'bad'.
I use the term "bad" loosely as it could be PR-wise, bad because something went viral and the traffic took down your server to you couldn't sell anything, or bad because it just doesn't seem to be working. There can be a thousand other references to "bad" and when things seem to go down hill with online marketing efforts in social media, "bad" is usually how it ends up being described.
This is why agencies or companies need a person or a department that is their social media champion. Social media is a vital part of marketing as a whole, not just online or offline. It's not something that can be attempted lightly, without resources being attributed to it, otherwise it will end up "bad".
These are just a few of the reasons that if you don't have a social media champion on your team you should consider getting one:
Dedicated to Creating a Presence & Conversation in the Social Media Circles Your Audience Is In:
This person can become your voice and constant presence in the social media sites where your audience is holding conversations about you, your products, your brands or even just your industry. This person (or even a team) can become a trusted resource for your audience to come to whether they are seeking out advice on how to use something, letting you know about a problem or giving you advice on how to improve your products.
If your social media champion isn't out there participating, how will you know what's really being said about your company. How will you know if your target audience is really being reached and the messaging you so carefully crafted is getting through. Without those eyes and ears who are trained not only to understand your company in and out, but to listen to your customers and understand what they are saying, you'll totally be in the dark.
Understanding Your Audience & Objectives to Measure:
Who better than someone dedicated to being your voice, who understands how the social media site work can help you navigate and put in place reasonable, understandable measurements so that you know if things really are "bad", than a Social Media champion. This person, or team, will understand better than your Public Relations, IT or even your search marketing team, what can reasonably be measured.
By understanding the in's and out's of the social media sites, and by understanding exactly how your audience is communicating, the Social Media champion can get a much better handle on those conversations that are taking place. They can also understand what those measurements you set in place, mean, in relation to what's going on in those particular social circles. It's one thing to have numbers, its another to have realistic data.... and then it's whole other ball game to but context and understanding behind those numbers. That's what a social media champion can do.
Help Set Social Media Policies:
This is another "Lets face it" situation here, HR is not going to really understand the damage a Facebook update can do, so allowing them to alone make the policies in this area isn't a smart move. Sometimes neither can a CEO or a CMO, understand the true impact of just 1 "tweet" can be. This is where a social media champion can really help you out beyond the marketing focus.
By understanding the impact a tweet, update or post in a forum has upon an audience about your company's perception, it can behoove companies to have the Social Media champion squarely involved in helping to develop social media policies for employees who are not directly involved in the companies social media efforts. This can help cover things that employees should be aware of, like their own personal blogs, twitter accounts or even Facebook & MySpace profiles.
Promotes Social Media Throughout the Company - Everyone Has A Stake:
Lastly, but not finally (there's always more to come with social media!), your social media champion can promote social media throughout your company. You may be wondering why you want someone to do this, who cares if the janitor has a Facebook page, right? Well you should!
Most likely that janitor has put down that he works for your company. He's got photos out there, updates, applications and everything else that a person who isn't technical, puts on their profile. That janitor has friends, and his friends know he works for you. He can have an impact on how your company is perceived in the social media sphere he participates in. A social media champion who realizes everyone in your company has a stake in social media, can relate to each employee what their individual stake is. Most employees want to do their part and help their employer, the social media champion can help make that happen
So have you thought about this some more? Still on the fence about dedicating resources directly to social media? Stop and think about how hard it's been trying to pull a social media marketing effort together currently with all different departments pulling at you. That should be enough to let you know its time to assign one person (or team) to be solely at the helm of the efforts to make them a success!