The number one struggle small businesses have with social media is this:
Who will do the work?
It’s an extremely important question to answer before your efforts online begin in earnest. An estimated 95 percent of all blogs have been abandoned. For those who don’t engage, tweets fritter away over time and for those without a strategy or a plan, Facebook pages go dormant. Companies have grand plans about how they’re going to engage in social media and then … no one truly owns the effort.
One approach that’s been discussed is the creation of a community manager or a conversation manager or sometimes even simply a social media manager (a quick Google of this found upwards of 14,000 jobs with this title). The point is, some companies have come far enough in the process to acknowledge that if they are going to be successful in their social media efforts, they need to create a position to handle it.
Companies often think, “We want the young, hip intern who ‘gets’ social media to do this for us.” This is like hiring your 16-year-old nephew to build the Web site for your business.
It’s great that the youngest person on your team uses social media on a regular basis, but they’re not the voice and face of your company, unless they ARE your primary audience. If your audience needs to engage with someone who represents your company — truly — who can answer with authority any question or respond to any inquiry without checking with a battery of people first, then THAT’s the person who needs to be your community manager.
Now it’s fine if that community manager is not a subject matter expert on all the different products and services your company provides. In fact, what the community manager needs is the young hip intern and a team of others in the company to research and supply a feed of information: blog posts and articles to read, news to react to, ideas, photos, product information, etc. The manager can then use this flow of creative inspiration to develop the content that engages your community. Give the manager the support they need to represent you, but first choose wisely, knowing that that person may find themselves representing you in a crisis, or on a day when business is not going well at all. The community manager is your company spokesperson. Are you ready to have that person represent you online?
The person who can and should manage your community should have the authority to do so; they should have the respect earned through longevity with the company, and the skill and personality to enjoy engaging with others on the social Web.