by Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl)
On Monday of this week, our pal Peter Shankman posted a blog entitled “I Will Never Hire a “Social Media Expert” and Neither Should You.” Now before you get yourself worked into a frenzy – take a moment to pop on over and read that post. The man has some valid points.
As someone who has found myself working in the world of digital media, social media, new media, social networks, what have you, I’m not going to lie. the title of Shankman’s post was slightly offensive. But then I, like you, took a moment to really read what the man had to say. And I don’t disagree.
People who work in social media must be expert at balancing marketing and customer service. They must understand the psychology of people, but they also have to have a handle, even lightly, on statistics and SEO. Someone who is really good at working within social networks has an innate understanding of not only how people consume content, but how people react to it.
I understand what Shankman’s saying here. I really do. “Rather than embracing this new technology and merging it with what we’ve learned already, we’re throwing off our clothes and running naked in the rain, waving our hands in the air, sure that this time [unlike the tech bubble of the early 2000s] it’ll be different, because this time it’s better!!”” I do see people jumping up and down and throwing their hats into the social media ring with no clear plan, direction or understanding, and, of course, that’s not sustainable. Of course you need to treat your company’s social media outreach like you would any other marketing plan. It costs money and it ought to make you money.
Any business needs a plan. And they need a professional to execute that plan. While companies a few years ago were content to let interns control the reins of their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts (if they even had the latter), it just can’t happen any longer. As Julian Cole writes in his piece entitled “Learning the Social Principles of An Idea,” “there is a ceiling for anyone who is going to work in Social Media at an Agency, however I think that employees who have worked at the coalface in Social Media have a real edge when it comes to being a full service Strategist.” This edge is based on a response model that you can get via social networks that are simply non-existent in other forms of media. Maybe they’re not an “expert” as Shankman defines it, but they certainly know something…
So, while Peter Shankman may be right, and I’m pretty sure he is, when he tells you that you don’t need a (self-professed) social media expert on your payroll, you certainly do need someone who comprehends social networks, to their core, and can see how to grow your business from there.