If you have been following the blog at all, you will realize that we have been touching on Social Media… a lot. It is a valuable resource and it pays to explore it. Our last blog touched the many “Social Media Specialists” out there. This is a more in-depth – point-form set of tips to help you find the Specialist you need.
Tips: How To Land A Good Social Media Operator.
Let’s do away with two misconceptions right away. First, “IT trained” does not a Social Media Specialist make. Social Media is a main dish of Marketing and PR with a little side of Techie. Second, a Facebook profile courtesy of the neighbor boy is going to get you nowhere.
There are a lot (A LOT) of self-proclaimed Social Media Guru’s out there. We have mentioned before that just about anyone can claim Social Media proficiency and the fact is that sites like Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon and Pinterest have become such an intrinsic part of everyday society that people may indeed consider themselves “in the know”.
What they don’t know is that Social Media Marketing encapsulates far more than just a profile and a series of updates. Karriann Graf put it best stating “A Social Media Manager is a marketer first and is now specializing in this new online marketing avenue”.
Simply put that means that knowing Social Media is not enough to be able to use it for Marketing. One needs to have a grasp on branding strategies, target markets, demographic measurements, public relations and all of the other wonderful concepts behind sturdy marketing.
Below we attempt to outline some concepts you can look into, to ensure you are getting a legitimate expert in the field of Social Media Marketing.
1. “I Designed My Bands Facebook Page”
Cool. Not enough though. Social Media Marketing requires someone who knows marketing. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean being able to jot a MBA or BSc behind your email signature. What it does mean is that you have the ability to communicate with people in a manner that breeds trust and faith – without annoying the bejeebus out of them.
Important to note is that, while Social Media Marketing is about “Marketing” it does break from several traditional Marketing methods and competencies. As such there are also a few old school Marketing Execs out there who do not get it.
2. Do they personally use Social Media?
We Devour Social Media Like It Is Gourmet.
A good question. I recently read a great article on the need to personally use Social Media on a regular basis,
in order to utilize its marketing potential. The fact is that the best Social Media Specialists will be the ones who are passionate about it. The ones who use it regularly are going to be the ones most proficient and enthusiastic about maintaining it.Besides, as my wife points out, Facebook is continually updating and changing (and frustrating some users). You need someone who is on top of this stuff.
Does your specialist maintain a blog or a Twitter profile? How excited does he get about the new sites and platforms?
Those who are using it most will utilize it best.
3. Do They Believe In Social Media?
This may seem like common sense but to be an effective Social Media Specialist you need to believe in it as a tool that is not just a flash in the pan. There has been a lot of debate, specifically in the formative years, as to whether Social Media was something long-term or not. To effectively utilize it you need to be sold on the idea that it is here to stay and then form your strategies and goals as such.
4. Stay Up Late & Stay Up To Date.
Social Media Specialists will know what is trending. They will know what the new exciting site or tool is. If they are the first ones to mention it to you, that can be a good sign.
A good Social Media Specialist is out reading Blogs, following Tweets and “Stumbling” upon the newest things. They are taking time to keep appraised of what is out there because it is their passion and their job. At the time of this writing, “Pinterest” is a big up and comer and Linkedin is growing. Next month this could all be stale news.
Books exist to be found (thank you Amazon.com), Blogs and other sharing sites like Mashable.com, SocialMediaToday.com are readily available 24/7. Your Specialist needs to be up to date or your Marketing may already be stale.
“Great Kid, Don’t Get Cocky” – Social Media is always changing and there is always something new to learn.
5. “…Don’t Get Cocky” – (Han Solo).
Social Media as a tool has not existed that long, likewise “Experts” in the field only have limited experience. The fact is that 2004-2005 was when Social Media Marketing first emerged as a buzz word. If you want to consider that the official time of inception, then the “experts” have seven to eight years experience max.
Consider how quickly everything changes. It started with Facebook and Myspace, sites that give you a profile and a platform. Now we have Social Bookmarking sites like Pinterest, Delicious and Stumbleupon.
The game is always evolving and the strategies need to evolve with it.
6. Forget Everything You Knew.
Ok so no one is going to know EVERYTHING about Social Media, but a Specialist is going to be continually learning and unlearning as required. We already discussed the need to stay appraised and up to date, but this may sometimes require “forgetting” what you knew. In other words, what works for one site and one target is not necessarily going to work for another.
There are basic principles that can be maintained, but you cannot very well emulate your Facebook strategy on Stumbleupon – it is simply impossible. In some instances learning the new stuff will mean letting go of the old.
An example of this is to look at the marketing strategies behind Billboards. Billboards still work, they are still valuable. You cannot, however, use “Billboard Principles” to succeed on Twitter. You need to let go of certain aspects and embrace the new ones.
7. Have A Thick Skin.
Seriously. In more traditional Marketing avenues it takes time for customers to fire their criticisms and feedback at you. By the time they have penned the letter, or found your toll-free service number they have cooled down. In Social Media it is instant. You take a wrong step, you provide a defective product and you will know. FAST.
I have experienced this difficulty. I worked with a specific Brand that had a good product and service department going for it. There was a great deal of pride in the Brand, so when a string of models were released and found to be defective the feedback came in hard and hit harder.
Social Media is a two way avenue, an area of communication. It is not a series of billboards, but a series of channels that allow your customers a voice and you need to be prepared.
This is where Marketing experience is not enough, your specialist needs experience in Customer Service – they need to absorb the blows and communicate/react appropriately – graciously.
If your Specialist cannot do this, if they take criticism personally it could very negatively impact communications with your customers. It could in fact kill your brand.
8. Have A Personality.
Creative and out of the box content can make or break your Social Media efforts.
Your specialist should be personable, they should be creative, fun and humorous. Social Media Marketing has a heavy emphasis on “Engagement”. In other words your Specialist needs to know how to grab attention, start and maintain conversations, and draw customers in.Keep in mind that Social Media is an avenue which you use to draw your target markets to you. This is done through direct, creative, intriguing communication, which brings me to number 9.
9. Communication Is King.
Remember how we said “Social Media Marketing is a main dish of Marketing and PR with a little side of Techie”? The PR are part is very important. Your Specialist will be in charge of communicating via Social Media Channels, to your customers. It is very direct communication and can require quick reactions. Your Specialist needs to be well versed in communication and how it is altered by public perception. A good Social Media Specialist also needs to be a good Wordsmith.
10. Creativity & Consistency
A Specialist needs to be capable of developing profile content and communications that are out of the box and grab attention.
They should have a firm schedule laid out for updates and blasts.
The content they have developed should match all other company marketing content. This consistency is crucial, the message you are broadcasting needs to, harmonize with, and draw attention to your overall brand goals.
11. Stand Upright Boy!
This is a core principle that needs to apply to everything you do. Simply put it is doing the right thing regardless of whether it is popular or difficult. There are rules and guidelines to every avenue of marketing. Social Media is no exception.
Follow the guidelines, abide by the rules. If your marketing platforms cannot trust you, how are your consumers suppose to?
Call it Karma, call it “Reap what you sow” – but if you abandon integrity and trust, simply to purchase few followers or nail a quick sale, it will catch up with you.
Social media is a complex and versatile tool – if you know how to use it. Still not sure? Look into it further. Many blogs and sites exist for just that purpose – or contact us, we would be happy chat about what may work for you.
Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services – Contact us for a free consultation.