The first thing you probably noticed after reading the title of this article is that we do not even pose the question of whether your company should do social media.
It goes without saying that it does.
It doesn’t matter if you are a two-weeks-old startup whose entire existence will be web-based or if you are a hardware store that has been open since Napoleonic times. Everyone is on social media these days and your company cannot afford to miss out on all the potential benefits of doing it the right way.
One very big part of it is being smart about who should do it in your company.
Not All Companies Are Made the Same Way
Before you can do anything and before we can offer any kind of advice, you need to understand that no two companies are alike and that they all have their little quirks and requirements when doing social.
For example, a massive corporation like Ford or Coca Cola will have entire social media teams with managers and executive officers who will answer to higher ups. There are also medium-sized companies that will have social media teams that can range from a single person to half a dozen. Then, there are small companies; small businesses that cannot really afford to hire an entire team dedicated to social media alone.
The last two are the types of companies that we are interested in, the small-to-medium businesses which cannot throw money at the social media matter and which have to be really smart about who does social media for them.
The “Social Media Intern” Road
One of the more popular trends in the last few years has been for SMBs to take on interns, usually fresh out of college or still in college, who will handle social media for them without asking for any financial reimbursement. In essence, these are mostly unpaid interns who get a bit of experience and who handle a company’s social media presence for a few months.
On paper, it sounds like a win-win type of a situation, right?
An intern gets to put his or her ears wet in the world of business and perhaps even earn steady employment at a company whereas the company gets someone young and tech-savvy to do some social media for them free of charge.
In reality, unfortunately, this kind of a setup often underperforms. For one, the intern loses motivation very early on as their work is not valued (besides not being rewarded financially) and as they get disenchanted by the very fact the world of business and work is a boring and unrewarding one (for the most part).
From the company’s standpoint this relationship also quickly shows its inadequacies. The most common problem is that such interns actually know very little about corporate social media and hitting any demonstrable goals. They also often completely miss the tone and sometimes this can lead to problems for the company.
The “Marketing People Will Handle It” Road
In many SMBs that already have a marketing team of some kind; it is very common to drop social media in their lap. As far as the decision-makers are concerned, it is all the same and it is only natural that marketing people can also do social.
Once again, it makes sense at face value. Social media is marketing to a certain extent and the marketing people are often thought of as the team that does not work too hard anyway. So, why shouldn’t they cover this too?
The problem is that most social media is not just about marketing and that it has plenty of its own traits, requirements and idiosyncrasies to be considered just doing marketing on Facebook. Also, many marketing people are simply not versed in social media marketing and they already have too much on their plate.
That being said, if they can take on another pile of work, your marketing people are definitely a better idea than someone’s niece who is always on Twitter (i.e. the intern road).
The “Someone Will Pick It Up” Road
This third way of handling social media in SMBs is particularly popular for really small companies that have under 10 employees. Namely, the workload is so huge in the vast majority of such companies that trying to unload social media responsibilities on someone is tantamount to physical assault.
In such companies, social media gets handled off-handedly by someone or a few people who find the time to post on Facebook or Twitter from time to time.
While it is the least time and money-consuming option, it is also wildly inconsistent and can sometimes even result in troubles for the company. A corporate social media presence needs to be more structured and organized than this.
There are also companies that let the entire company do social media when they feel like it. This can result in great organic social media presence that can appeal to the general public and provide great benefits for the company. Of course, in such situations, it is important to put in place certain rules for people who wish to get involved.
What to Do?
Now that we have covered the most popular ways in which companies “solve” their social media needs, we should probably give a few tips on how you can handle this within your company.
If you have enough money in your budget to do it, make sure you hire an agency or a professional with a long track record of delivering actual results and handling corporate social media profiles the way they have to be handled.
If you plan on making social media an extra part of one of your employee’s duties, make sure that they can handle the extra load and that you reward them for doing this for you. Of course, you will also want to track their work and find out if they are successful enough.
If you decide that you make social media a company-wide responsibility and something everyone is involved in (which can work quite well), make sure that you have certain policies installed and that people understand the unified social media message that your company is trying to send.
Whatever your choice may be in the end, you should encourage them to learn and use tools that can help them in their endeavors. These can involve social media-oriented tools such as Tweetfavy or Pinfavy, as well as other tools that can help handle social media the right way. For example, if the entire company is getting in on the social media action, something like Humanity scheduling software can help keep track of who is doing what and when.
Above everything else, make sure that you have clear goals and a strategy that will help you reach those goals. The goals can be anything from getting more traffic to your website, attracting top talent to providing great customer service on social media.
It all comes down to what you need and what tools you have at your disposal.