Archive for September 17th, 2009


I get really great comments on a regular basis, but rarely showcase them in my posts for some reason. That changes today as I share with you three discussion threads that caught my eye earlier this week. They are timely, worth bringing forward, and most importantly worth discussing further.

1. On the subject of hiring vs. developing Social Media “managers”

From Jason Blumer:

My question is how companies can “hire” SM positions. That is, how do you hire someone to perform your SM functions for you? It seems the owner is the only one who can truly display the right culture and attitude of the organization to the public.

Do you think that is true?

Can you hire out, delegate or subcontract your SM functions?

My response:

That’s the question, isn’t it.

Ideally, you want to identify individuals inside your organization who fit a certain profile conducive to managing an SM function (monitoring, engagement, promotion, community management, etc.) and then train/develop them.

The training and program build can be done by an outsider while the execution, fine-tuning and “voice” are owned by insiders.

The alternative is to hire people with specific experience on the execution side, and turn them into insiders. Their street cred within the SM community and their resume should speak for themselves. ;)

I don’t recommend outsourcing engagement or community management. Monitoring and measurement are easier to outsource, but that’s as far as I would take it.

From Pauleco, the final word:

I was hired as Web Content Editor (but with lots of webmaster type responsibilities) – within six months I was made Online Community Manager and shifted to blog management and started engaging with social media… our MD writes all his own blog posts and comments, but I do all the management, including managing social media profiles etc.

I am now in the middle of rolling out a social media strategy for the whole company, I do tweet direct and represent the company on facebook etc now that I am fairly comfortable with being ‘on message’ (or is that now that PR/Marketing/Sales/Customer Service and the MD are comfortable with me?) :)

My advice to companies wanting to start engaging in Social Media by recruiting would be to find someone already employed who is savvy and promote them. Ideally – you wouldn’t have just one person doing everything (that isn’t scalable) – but you need one person to develop a strategy and lead a team of ‘normal’ staff to participate.

2. On the subject of compliance-heavy financial services companies and their use of Social Media

From Jay Ehret:

Actually, I did find a business that cannot participate in social media. I met with a financial adviser who deals in securities, and suggested a social media strategy to him. His every marketing activity must be approved by the SEC. He would not be able to create a blog post, post on his Facebook Page, create a YouTube video or Tweet without having it first approved.

I agree with your statement: “The medium in and of itself isn’t what works or doesn’t work.” While almost every business can use social media, it doesn’t mean that every business has to use it. There are many businesses who thrived without advertising or traditional marketing and there scores of businesses who can make it without social media marketing.

My response:

I’ve also sat down with financial advisers and covered that very topic, and we worked it out:

1. WHAT they say is regulated, not WHERE they say it.

2. As long as the corporate office approved the content they produce, all is well. (They have a blog now.) This took some time and lot of meetings, but they got it done.

3. Keyword monitoring using SM channels. They’re doing it now.

And most importantly…

4. Agents now use LinkedIn and Facebook to stay in touch with their clients. They don’t talk business. They just engage with them on a human level. They share photos of their kids, of their pets, of their fishing trips, they invite people to parties and events… They use SM to create and deepen their connections with people, NOT to do business.

So I respectfully disagree, Jay. EVERY organization in EVERY industry can use Social Media. Even tightly regulated ones.

From Dean Piccirillo, the final word:

Olivier’s understanding of the procedures that must be followed is generally correct. I’m in financial services and have been exploring the use of social media. I also have a strong background in compliance having been a Chief Compliance Officer.

Using social media is generally more cumbersome for those in my field as business related communications must be pre-approved, monitored and retained. That being said, we’re used to these procedures.

I use tools like Facebook and Twitter to expand my personal network and make few if any business related posts. Basically, I enjoy it, I manage my time on these platforms, I’m making friends and I assume that eventually something good will come of it from a business standpoint; it always has in the past when I’ve grown my network through traditional methods.

3. And finally, some great advice for companies struggling to figure out how to safely get into Social Media

Kristi Colvin, on the importance of developing internal Social Media training programs:

Spike Jones mentioned Wells Fargo (as an example), and how if they used Twitter they might find tons of people complaining about their company. If that were the case, and there were issues with confidential/financial data or “official” company representation, if I were the management of that company I think I would want to empower my employees to go online as themselves, at the social platforms of their choice, and “listen” (monitor) as you say, for brand mentions/issues/what they’re doing right.

A person who says something about your company, especially if they have a complaint and you can route them in the right direction to help get it fixed, is going to see you/your brand in a whole new light after a friendly, helpful exchange. You don’t have to put the logo on your avatar and the name in your screen name and all that. You can just be there, as a person, interacting with other people and talking about work-related things when appropriate.

Organizations could help themselves tremendously if they instituted social media training on a broad basis and encouraged employees to recognize opportunities and learn how to help customers and prospects online in this casual, real-time information environment. 1000 employees online, vs. 1-3 PR folks or “social media directors” might be even more effective. It doesn’t have to be so “organized” if there are great guidelines in place (ala IBM’s) and employees embrace the new ways to communicate and help people via various online channels. Everyone from financial to legal to defense/military sectors could bring benefit to their companies in this way.

Good stuff. (Told ya.)

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Just because I am still a few months away from the completion of my very own super top secret book project doesn’t mean I can’t start lending my thoughts to a few other companion pieces written by and for pretty smart people. Case in point: Jacob Morgan and Josh Peters’ Twittfaced (due out in October) should be a pretty good guide to Social Media for companies of all sizes and social media practitioners alike. (The foreword and introduction are being written by Brian Solis and Chris Brogan, respectively, and I pop up in the part of the book that covers measurement and ROI, so we’re already off to a decent start.) For the story of how the book came to be, click here.

From Jacob’s blog, here are some more details:

I’m very excited to announce that my colleagues Chris Brogan and Brian Solis are going to be contributing to my new book with Josh Peters; Twittfaced, a book on social media 101 for business.  Chris Brogan is going to write the introduction for the book and Brian Solis is going to write the forward.  Anyone involved in the social media or PR space knows of Chris Brogan and Brian Solis, so it’s very exciting to have them be a part of our book.

As a little bonus I’m also including some Q&A with Olivier Blanchard on social media ROI.

I’ve met Brian many times offline and greatly respect and admire the work he has done and the philosophy he shares on social media.  I’ve only met Chris Brogan once (I think) but I have also come to admire his work and his passion and dedication for educating companies and individuals on the value of social media.  Olivier Blanchard has really spearheaded the whole social media ROI initiative.  I’ve talked about ROI in the past but it’s thanks to Olivier that my passion and interest for ROI has been re-ignited with a vengeance.

Jacob is the Principal of Chess Media Group (new site coming end of Sept), a social business consultancy focused on strategy, creativity, and results.  You can connect with Jacob directly on his social media consulting blog or via twitter, @jacob.  If you would like to pre-order a copy of Twittfaced (visit the site for a chance to win a free copy) which is coming out in the middle of October you can do so via Barnes and Noble.

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