Talk about a loaded question. There's a sense amongst some people that the term "Social Media Expert" is a bit of malarkey. That those of us who make a living developing, implementing and executing Social Media Marketing Plans are "snake-charmers," and that anyone can use free and readily available tools to create their own SMM programs.
And perhaps there's a bit of truth to that. If you have the right person in your organization, you probably can run a Social program well and they'll probably do a better job than someone on the outside. But here's the rub: the "right person" can be quite elusive. Here's why:
- They must be a fantastic researcher, and an even better writer. Maintaining a blog requires the ability to write frequently, engagingly and with relevance. Identifying the right topics or products to write about requires sleuthing both inside and outside your organization. It can be a nasty shock for the online marketing assistant who thought starting a blog would be "fun and easy."
- The person you put in charge of your Social Marketing plan must be a self-starter, and somewhat entrepreneurially-inclined. They must have the discipline to keep abreast of industry issues and what is being said about your company, then respond to those post commenters, tweets, and message threads in a timely fashion.
- At the same time, they must also be able to multi-task like mad, and
not get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information that will be
thrown at them in the process of building and managing your Social
Media program. Seriously, folks, we have separate, unique RSS feeds for our clients, and each one reads like the visual effects crew of a Pixar film.
- Finally, the person you task with this endeavor must have enough expertise about your brand and authority about your industry to understand what's relevant, and to react appropriately. Without that, his or her every word will be questioned by your customers AND your management.
Listen, we're all for building an internal culture of Social Media acceptance. We like to see our clients embrace the medium and we love helping them find (or hire) the right talent internally. But you wouldn't ask your customer service manager to write your press releases, so why ask her to write your blog?
Have you hired a Social Media consultant to help your team, or did you build the skill set internally? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!