If you have not been reading Amber Naslund lately, you are missing a great deal of information on how to hire for social media. Amber goes through many different processes that businesses must look at to find the right person for any social media process that a company will attempt. As social media moves beyond the buzzwords, there are four articles that managers must read to get information about social media and the people you want driving it for the company.
The first must read article is Hiring for Social Media. If there is no formal social media campaign at the company yet, but you have employees already engaged, truly engaged like Frank Eliason from Comcast Cares, you want to look internally to the company first. The reason for this, especially if you have an employee who speaks highly of the company already, is that they are already steeped in the corporate culture. They already have alliances, connections, friends (and enemies) in the organization. They can “hit the ground running” because they already know something of the company. This will help with the collaboration, diplomacy, and connectivity and awareness. Usually employees are generally useless for the first 90 to 180 days on a job as they learn about the company. Hiring from inside if you have people who are already engaged in social media, are motivated, curious, understand the business, and are already good writers as well as customer/client focused. Amber also goes into the typical roles and responsibilities within the role of social media owner for the company. What is important to note though is that she and many others agree that the pure social media role at some point will be rolled into other job descriptions and roles within the organization, much as you see at Google and Microsoft. There will be few if any pure social media roles in companies in the future.
Good moves and bad moves in hiring for social media are two separate articles but worth noting the good, the bad, and the downright ugly when it comes to hiring for social media. There are many good moves that a company can make, but from what I have seen on the job boards is that many companies are keeping tight rein on social media, are unsure of what it means, and even less likely to have a solid grasp on what the role of social media director, owner, or operator means. This is new territory for many companies, whenever there is a new role; it is a very good idea to define what the role will entail. Companies often make mistakes by hiring for an ill-defined role, and in the longer run that will hurt them when it comes to social media. Social media is not traditional marketing, it is not newspaper flyers, it is not TV ads. Rather it is a way of talking to people, as people, listening to the good, the bad, and the angry. The person who is involved with social media has to understand that they are talking to people, and this can start in the job description. If a company is looking to hire a social media person for their company, then they want to look at the Good Moves and Bad Moves from Amber before ever issuing a Job Description in public. This is one thing that a company needs to define before engaging in social media. They also need to find out what their employees are already doing, which is why searching for the company in Google, what people are saying, is one of the more important parts of understanding what needs to go into the Job Description, and the social media plan that a company will be engaging in.
Finally, there is the reality of control. There is no control; control is an illusion when it comes to the message. People are already talking about the company via systems like Glassdoor that provide a certain level of anonymity for the employee. Facebook, MySpace (not so much there), blogs, twitter, all of these become vehicle for people to talk about the company. Moreover, talk they will, if it is truly bad or truly egregious they will go to consumer sites like the Consumerist, BBB, and others to complain seeking redress. All of this is in Google, Bing, and other search engines, and all of it is easily found. If you are worried about what people are saying, then you need to spend time finding out why they are saying the things that they are saying. Social media is about engagement, learning what people are saying. People are far more likely to complain about a company online than they are likely to talk well of the company. Social media should be about engaging the customer, finding out the core issues that the customer is complaining of, then trying to fix it if possible. Some customers will never be happy, and companies need to know when to cut their losses on engagement. The sooner a company learns that the message can be guided and discussed but not controlled, the company will truly start understanding social media.
With all the promises of social media, companies are not used to sharing voices with customers. It is an alien concept to companies that have spent decades in print media and on TV showing how sexy cool their product is. Disappointed customers have a voice now, and companies need to work out a strategy for social media. This is why Amber’s articles are important to read, it is good to know what a company can expect out there on the internet, but it is even more important to have a plan, and learn from other companies mistakes and wins in the social media space.
(Cross-posted @ TechWag)