That’s right. I said it. If your job title is “Social Media Marketer” for a company, your job isn’t real, your life is a lie, and you’d damned well better have a backup career plan for when corporate America catches on. Here’s why.

I recently got into an impassioned discussion on Twitter after a large tech company (no names mentioned) that has typically done an exemplary job of using social networking to serve customers did something very, very foolish. They posted a job opening for a “Social Media Marketer” (or something similar).

Regardless of the actual job title that was advertised, 90% of the job description had to do with the applicant’s ability to make nice on Twitter and other social networks. For this article’s sake, that job title will be referred to as “Social Media Douchebag.”

I should interrupt myself here and clarify that I am not talking about hiring other companies or individuals to develop or execute specific social media campaigns, such as Facebook applications, etc. That’s part of what the agency I work for does, and we do it better than most companies would if they tried to do it themselves. Clever viral campaigns like Burger King’s “Whopper Sacrifice” or Vitamin Water’s “Great Debate” could probably never have been developed internally, and there is a legitimate purpose to hiring an agency to handle those types of things.

I’m referring specifically to the situation where a company is providing some level of day-to-day customer-interaction support via social networks like Twitter, either sales, or pre-sales or tech support.

This company historically has had an excellent track record for doing things right in social media. They didn’t hire a bunch of outside social media douchebags – they encourage their current employees to branch out into social media, so the people their customers (and potential customers) interact with on networks like Twitter are actual employees with real roles in the company – systems administrators, technical support – the same people they would be talking to if they called on the phone. Their regular employees became brand ambassadors because of their knowledge, openness, and accessibility.

Knowing that there are real people, not social media douchebags, behind the Twitter names is the single most important reason social media has been successful for this company. They got it right – social media became an extension of their current service and support, not some new, pathetic attempt to use social networks to pitch new customers or give lip service to their existing customers.ย  There is nothing phony, forced or contrived about the people they have on Twitter. And that is exactly the way it should be.

Social networks are OUR turf, boys. They are where we – your customers – live, talk to our friends, review products, and express ourselves. If we let you enter our world, you should know that it is only with our permission that you are allowed to exist here – and that the privilege can be revoked at any time. Treat that knowledge with the care it deserves.

Employees = People

When you follow the folks this company currently has on Twitter, you get to know them as people. They bend over backwards when you need help, but when they’re not saving the day, you learn about their kids’ baseball games. Some might argue that that sort of non-business chatter has no place in a support venue, but I disagree.

As consumers, we will always return to the brands that we feel most personally connected to. It’s a lot harder to fire a friend than someone you never bothered to get to know very well, and when your customers start seeing your employees as people, I think it can actually make life easier for customer and employee alike.

Generally speaking, when you get to know your service providers as actual human beings, you will be more forgiving of their mistakes, and less likely to jump to the conclusion that they are just out for your money and they don’t give a damn about you.

Naturally, if the employee is particularly verbose (or particularly offensive, as I am), I might recommend they set up a separate Twitter account for their very personal stuff. Fortunately for everyone involved, I haven’t been asked to Twitter on my company’s account yet, so it’s a non-issue for me.

That said, not every company chooses to go that route with their social network support. Many keep it all business, all the time – and that is effective at accomplishing their goals, and it works for them. However even if a company takes a less personal, business-only approach, customers will KNOW if the person on the other end of that Tweet or Facebook message is a real service representative, or just a social media douchebag.

Social media douchebags are no more valuable to me than automated telephony systems. They can be useful for answering the same basic questions that a corporate website’s FAQ can, but to real people, real customers, they are as infuriating as getting stuck talking to customer service or billing when you have a technical problem. Sure, let me waste 10 minutes of my life explaining my problem to someone I know from the outset has no idea what my problem is or how to solve it. Let me plead my entire case to someone who doesn’t understand half of the terms I’m using, just so I can finally get transferred to someone who may actually potentially be useful to me, just so I can start over again.

I don’t know about you, but my hourly rate is outrageous. I should send these people an invoice for wasting my time.

Even the ones who genuinely care are still utterly ill-equipped to actually solve people’s problems, whether those problems are technical or sales or pre-sales related. They are the piker stock broker (I can say that, because I used to be one), going through their call lists, making cold calls with no real knowledge of the company or how the company relates to the specific industry. They have a pitch-book of bullshit responses and platitudes, but because the only role they have ever played at the company is that of a social media douchebag (or stock broker), they have no real answers.

Only the people who do actual work have those. Which is why those are the people you want handling your social media outreach.

Fortunately, for the company involved, they immediately recognized that this was the wrong way to go (not without a fair bit of ranting from my end, naturally.) And for that I’m relieved. God help them the first time I reach out on Twitter (or anywhere else) for support and am answered by a Social Media Douchebag. One of the things I really like about this company is that 24/7, I can reach someone online who has extensive, intimate knowledge of the product and wants to help me solve problems. Even the most well-intentioned SMD’s just don’t have the skill set or knowledge to be anymore more to me than wasted time and an additional mouse-click or three.

Do I expect full-service support through Twitter or Facebook? Of course not. But immediately connecting to people who care about my problem and are ready and able to help me fix it is very important to me.

Save yourself the money on hiring some self-proclaimed expert and set up a smart email auto-responder. It will be slightly less annoying for your users to deal with, about as productive, and at least then they can blame the technology if they walk away feeling like their time was wasted.

One size does NOT fit all

So how are there jobs out there for “Social Media Marketers”? If I had to guess, I’d say that many more traditional companies are feeling overwhelmed by the popularity and potential of social networks, so rather than spending the time getting to know how their users (or potential users) use these networks and tailoring a service solution that makes sense for them, they panic and take out a job ad looking for a social media marketer.

I gotta tellya – social media hadn’t been around long enough (with consistent user behavior) for anyone to be considered an expert or a guru. The self-proclaimed “social media guru” means the same to me as “social media douchebag.”

This isn’t voodoo. The only real rule to being good at social media is to not be a douchebag, so clearly, you can see that a social media douchebag is a paradox – and if they continue to exist, a singularity will be formed, and the universe will implode .

The reality is that social media is a relatively new field, and the “experts” are just smart people who managed to guess right slightly more often than they guessed wrong.

Treat your followers/fans/network with respect. Respect their time, and bring something of value to their lives. Honest to god, that’s all there is to it. Finding a way to make that fit into your support model isn’t nearly as hard as you probably imagine.

Are there ways for companies to handle social networking right? Absolutely. Unequivocally yes. And in fact, it’s not just a good, progressive plan – it will be a necessity within just a few years for every large company to have some level of social network support. But expecting a one-size-fits-all answer here is naive. You wouldn’t do that with any other aspect of your business, so why on earth would you do it here, in a place that is more public, more open to criticism, more likely to be cross-posted and nitpicked than anywhere else?

Stop panicking. Social media isn’t fairy magic. This isn’t rocket surgery. It’s simply an extension of what you’re already doing – and no one is more qualified to do that than the people who already work for you. They are invested in your company, and they have the experience to actually be useful to your customers. They are your very best brand ambassadors, and if you’re smart, you’ll offer your current employees a pay raise or additional bonus for taking on the additional responsibility, rather than drop money on hiring someone from the outside who doesn’t know your company, how it works, or what your customers need.

I have no idea where this glut of “social media experts” came from, but it looks like they’re not going away any time soon. There are no degrees in social media (not yet, God help us all), so I am always curious as to the criteria by which these people use to declare themselves “experts.” Whatever color the sky is in their world, the reality is that being genuine is the only thing that has consistently withstood the very public and very close scrutiny of corporate social media efforts.

So yeah – “social media marketing” isn’t a job title. It may be one part of a job description, but it is not a job title. And if it is, you’re doing it wrong.

UPDATE: I have created a new website – SocialMediaDouchebag.Net. Check it out. You might rofl or lawl. Ad Age even posted about it. Be sure to check out the notes page to learn more about it, and the kickass people on Twitter who helped me come up with some of it. It should be mentioned that the SocialMediaDouchebag.Net site is aimed more at affiliate/MLM marketing douchebags, not corporate douchebags, like I’m discussing in this article. Perhaps a “Corporate” version is necessary…

What are your thoughts? Leave ’em in the comments.

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Iโ€™m a tech geek/dev/infosec-nerd/scuba diver/blacksmith/sword-fighter/crime fighter/ENTP/warcrafter/activist. I'm the CTO at Mass Mosaic and the CEO of Grokability, Inc. in San Diego, CA. Tweet at me @snipeyhead or read more...

  • I (amazingly) have an opinion on this! Too much for a comment – I’ll have to do my own blog post later today.

    You make some great points. You can’t fake concern/care for customers. It is either very real, and very 1:1, or very much a quagmire of automated phone systems type responses.

    If it isn’t personal, and knowledgeable, then how can it be “social”?

    Anyway, more on this later. The topic interests me ๐Ÿ™‚

    Rob

    Last blog post: Sometimes, Social is Messy

  • I (amazingly) have an opinion on this! Too much for a comment – I’ll have to do my own blog post later today.

    You make some great points. You can’t fake concern/care for customers. It is either very real, and very 1:1, or very much a quagmire of automated phone systems type responses.

    If it isn’t personal, and knowledgeable, then how can it be “social”?

    Anyway, more on this later. The topic interests me ๐Ÿ™‚

    Rob

    Last blog post: Sometimes, Social is Messy

  • Your blog post sums up the overall problem really well. I’ve run into too many companies where the person behind the Twitter account has no technical knowledge, no ability to garner attention from fellow employees, and no sense of ownership. It’s frustrating (as you described), because you do feel like your time was totally wasted.

    As one of the folks that has a lot of technical work to do (and does social media things on the side), I’m proud that I can not only respond appropriately to customer concerns, but I can also do something about it.

    Social media work at a company should always be an add-on to something that you already do, not the only thing you do (as you pointed out). Those folks who only concern themselves with the social media realm become disconnected from the work of the business, and they offer much less value to a customer in need.

    Last blog post: Simple SOCKS proxy using SSH

  • Your blog post sums up the overall problem really well. I’ve run into too many companies where the person behind the Twitter account has no technical knowledge, no ability to garner attention from fellow employees, and no sense of ownership. It’s frustrating (as you described), because you do feel like your time was totally wasted.

    As one of the folks that has a lot of technical work to do (and does social media things on the side), I’m proud that I can not only respond appropriately to customer concerns, but I can also do something about it.

    Social media work at a company should always be an add-on to something that you already do, not the only thing you do (as you pointed out). Those folks who only concern themselves with the social media realm become disconnected from the work of the business, and they offer much less value to a customer in need.

    Last blog post: Simple SOCKS proxy using SSH

  • Agreed, on all counts. And I think this is a prime example of the propagation of Social Media Douchebaggery that we so despise. http://training.oreilly.com/twitterbootcamp/

  • Agreed, on all counts. And I think this is a prime example of the propagation of Social Media Douchebaggery that we so despise. http://training.oreilly.com/twitterbootcamp/

  • Matthew – that O’Reilly “bootcamp” makes me so sad for so many reasons. The first of which being that its sad that the hype has gotten to the point where people feel they need a bootcamp for Twitter – but probably more because it’s being put out by O’Reilly, of all companies. The fact that it’s O’Reilly gives undue legitimacy to this nonsense, and shows that they are just capitalizing on this crap. I would have expected more from such an outstanding company. ๐Ÿ™

  • Matthew – that O’Reilly “bootcamp” makes me so sad for so many reasons. The first of which being that its sad that the hype has gotten to the point where people feel they need a bootcamp for Twitter – but probably more because it’s being put out by O’Reilly, of all companies. The fact that it’s O’Reilly gives undue legitimacy to this nonsense, and shows that they are just capitalizing on this crap. I would have expected more from such an outstanding company. ๐Ÿ™

  • LOL at “Social media isn’t fairy magic” ๐Ÿ˜‰ If it was, I would SO want the job.

    Last blog post: How to Edit and Delete Facebook Applications

  • LOL at “Social media isn’t fairy magic” ๐Ÿ˜‰ If it was, I would SO want the job.

    Last blog post: How to Edit and Delete Facebook Applications

  • Right on! I am in total agreement with the exception of one sentence:

    “social media hadnโ€™t been around long enough (with consistent user behavior) for anyone to be considered an expert or a guru.”

    Social media HAS been around for a long time, just under different names. It started on CompuServe and Prodigy in the mid 80’s as forums / bulletin boards. There was plenty of discussion going on about businesses, brands, etc. – they just weren’t paying attention.

    In the early 1990’s, a couple of the major U.S. airlines tried to embrace early social media by opening up Forums for frequent flyers on CompuServe. The forums were quickly flooded with negative comments so the airlines freaked and shut them down. Today, companies can’t squelch commentary, so they do a different type of freak-out and hired social media “experts” who don’t know the daily ins-and-outs of their business. So what you end with are situations where company brand reps are happily tweeting away while their most important consumer touchpoint – their website – collapses from a lack of attention.

    As someone smarter than me said “customer service is the new PR”

    Last blog post: U-Haul: A Social Media Grunt?

  • Right on! I am in total agreement with the exception of one sentence:

    “social media hadnโ€™t been around long enough (with consistent user behavior) for anyone to be considered an expert or a guru.”

    Social media HAS been around for a long time, just under different names. It started on CompuServe and Prodigy in the mid 80’s as forums / bulletin boards. There was plenty of discussion going on about businesses, brands, etc. – they just weren’t paying attention.

    In the early 1990’s, a couple of the major U.S. airlines tried to embrace early social media by opening up Forums for frequent flyers on CompuServe. The forums were quickly flooded with negative comments so the airlines freaked and shut them down. Today, companies can’t squelch commentary, so they do a different type of freak-out and hired social media “experts” who don’t know the daily ins-and-outs of their business. So what you end with are situations where company brand reps are happily tweeting away while their most important consumer touchpoint – their website – collapses from a lack of attention.

    As someone smarter than me said “customer service is the new PR”

    Last blog post: U-Haul: A Social Media Grunt?

  • Hi Dave, thanks for commenting ๐Ÿ™‚ I think we both know that I meant “social media in its current incarnation”. It didn’t used to be called “social networking”, regardless of whether or not it technically was both social and networking – so I was using the industry term’s meaning, not the literal translation meaning. I think you’re just nitpicking now ๐Ÿ˜‰ I was on bbs way back when, and then usenet.

    Semantics aside, you bring up a good point. Companies seem to function in panic mode so often, they leap onboard “the next big thing” while sometimes forgetting about “the thing that keeps their current customers as customers”.

  • Hi Dave, thanks for commenting ๐Ÿ™‚ I think we both know that I meant “social media in its current incarnation”. It didn’t used to be called “social networking”, regardless of whether or not it technically was both social and networking – so I was using the industry term’s meaning, not the literal translation meaning. I think you’re just nitpicking now ๐Ÿ˜‰ I was on bbs way back when, and then usenet.

    Semantics aside, you bring up a good point. Companies seem to function in panic mode so often, they leap onboard “the next big thing” while sometimes forgetting about “the thing that keeps their current customers as customers”.

  • Snipe,

    Good points. I just heard today about another major brand in my neck of the woods, jumping all over twitter while their website bounce rate is way too high! As I often say, you need to learn walk before you can dance.

    Last blog post: U-Haul: A Social Media Grunt?

  • Snipe,

    Good points. I just heard today about another major brand in my neck of the woods, jumping all over twitter while their website bounce rate is way too high! As I often say, you need to learn walk before you can dance.

    Last blog post: U-Haul: A Social Media Grunt?

  • And funnily enough, I suck at both walking and dancing. Fortunately, neither are required (or even recommended) for coding ๐Ÿ˜‰

    You’re spot on though. Really, to me, all of this comes down to common sense (which as I’m sure you know is oh so ironically named). Common sense says that people will reject you if they feel like they’re being pitched to, and will embrace you if you bring value to their lives. I’m not even *in* marketing – I’ve been a developer/programmer for 14 years – and I know this. (I have worked for ad agencies, as I do now, but my role has primarily been that of a techie.)

    Same goes for websites and resource allocation. You need to fix what’s broken before you move on to starting something new, especially if you don’t really have a clue how to do that something new. Marketing on social networks can be incredibly powerful, but if you spend all this time using social networks to drive people back to your shitty website where they find nothing of value or worse yet, things are actually broken and frustrating, you fail at life. Or at least business.

  • And funnily enough, I suck at both walking and dancing. Fortunately, neither are required (or even recommended) for coding ๐Ÿ˜‰

    You’re spot on though. Really, to me, all of this comes down to common sense (which as I’m sure you know is oh so ironically named). Common sense says that people will reject you if they feel like they’re being pitched to, and will embrace you if you bring value to their lives. I’m not even *in* marketing – I’ve been a developer/programmer for 14 years – and I know this. (I have worked for ad agencies, as I do now, but my role has primarily been that of a techie.)

    Same goes for websites and resource allocation. You need to fix what’s broken before you move on to starting something new, especially if you don’t really have a clue how to do that something new. Marketing on social networks can be incredibly powerful, but if you spend all this time using social networks to drive people back to your shitty website where they find nothing of value or worse yet, things are actually broken and frustrating, you fail at life. Or at least business.

  • oh so true! We’re on the same page. I am getting a little fed up with the social marketing “mavens” out there who’ve exploded out of nowhere. They’re like toddlers the first time they see a puppy!

    Last blog post: U-Haul: A Social Media Grunt?

  • oh so true! We’re on the same page. I am getting a little fed up with the social marketing “mavens” out there who’ve exploded out of nowhere. They’re like toddlers the first time they see a puppy!

    Last blog post: U-Haul: A Social Media Grunt?

  • EXACTLY! They didn’t go to school for this, and many of them didn’t even work in marketing (unless you count MLM and Amway) before they declared themselves gurus. They’ve spent a little time chatting with friends on Twitter and Facebook and have decided they’re mavens. It reminds me a lot of when the web development field was still very new. People with little or no experience would take one class and start a web development business. The only plus side was that I made my living cleaning up after those hacks.

  • EXACTLY! They didn’t go to school for this, and many of them didn’t even work in marketing (unless you count MLM and Amway) before they declared themselves gurus. They’ve spent a little time chatting with friends on Twitter and Facebook and have decided they’re mavens. It reminds me a lot of when the web development field was still very new. People with little or no experience would take one class and start a web development business. The only plus side was that I made my living cleaning up after those hacks.

  • Pingback: Some Posts I read today - Roger Stringer()

  • Greg
  • Greg
  • Yeah, but…

    Someone at the brand/company has to oversee all this stuff from an organizational perspective. You can’t have people going all rogue on you, because even the best companies have some bad apples.

    Isn’t it fair to give that person a title?

  • Yeah, but…

    Someone at the brand/company has to oversee all this stuff from an organizational perspective. You can’t have people going all rogue on you, because even the best companies have some bad apples.

    Isn’t it fair to give that person a title?

  • Thank you for writing this. You articulately expressed what many of us have been grumbling for a while now. I hope this post is widely shared.

  • Thank you for writing this. You articulately expressed what many of us have been grumbling for a while now. I hope this post is widely shared.

  • Mel

    Great post, definitely agreed!!

    Last blog post: Geekdom [or, why I am a geek]

  • Great post, definitely agreed!!

    Last blog post: Geekdom [or, why I am a geek]

  • Great post! I like especially the ‘Employees = People’ -part.

    I agree though with Dave’s response that social media has been around for quite a while now.

    I remember starting with a blog some 8 years ago, making mashups of web 2.0 apps before it was called ‘web 2.0’ and then moving on to microblogging..

    What keeps me up at night though is wondering ‘what’s next’?

    As email becomes a thing of the past and companies become more transparent as conversational customer support is on the rise, at which point will the customer be considered (and feel like a) ‘king’ again?

    What will it require?

  • Great post! I like especially the ‘Employees = People’ -part.

    I agree though with Dave’s response that social media has been around for quite a while now.

    I remember starting with a blog some 8 years ago, making mashups of web 2.0 apps before it was called ‘web 2.0’ and then moving on to microblogging..

    What keeps me up at night though is wondering ‘what’s next’?

    As email becomes a thing of the past and companies become more transparent as conversational customer support is on the rise, at which point will the customer be considered (and feel like a) ‘king’ again?

    What will it require?

  • Some companies look at this type of activity as simply an extension of their current customer relations efforts via email and call center engagement. That’s probably the way things will move in the future.

    Those folks are already in tune with the brand, the legal stakes, and the methodology in terms of consumer interaction. They’ll just need to move from canned/scripted response to a more natural dialogue (which many companies are already doing).

    Last blog post: Zeta Films Presents: โ€œGoogle opens up the paid search flood gatesโ€

  • Some companies look at this type of activity as simply an extension of their current customer relations efforts via email and call center engagement. That’s probably the way things will move in the future.

    Those folks are already in tune with the brand, the legal stakes, and the methodology in terms of consumer interaction. They’ll just need to move from canned/scripted response to a more natural dialogue (which many companies are already doing).

    Last blog post: Zeta Films Presents: โ€œGoogle opens up the paid search flood gatesโ€

  • Oh darn…another mid-career change idea down the tubes. Maybe there’s a future in typewriter repair.

  • Facebook User

    Oh darn…another mid-career change idea down the tubes. Maybe there’s a future in typewriter repair.

  • Just wanted to say thanks for the great post ! Found your blog on Google and I’m happy I did. I’ll be reading you on a regular basis ! Thanks again ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks,
    Donna

  • Just wanted to say thanks for the great post ! Found your blog on Google and I’m happy I did. I’ll be reading you on a regular basis ! Thanks again ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks,
    Donna

  • Digistar,

    I don’t think that email is dead or even dying, it just needs to be reinvented (it’s still the #1 daily activity, forget the “social media is more popular than email” hype.)

    Have you checked out Google Wave? That looks like a feasible future direction to me – unified messaging built around a topic. Almost like a built-on-the-fly highly personalized message thread. Come to think of it, CompuServe invented that idea too! Back in 1996 or so, CompuServe was working a on “super forum” project code-named Veda (Sanskrit for wisdom) that would have tightly integrated email with Forums. It got killed during the dark days before AOL took over. Everything old is new again…

  • Digistar,

    I don’t think that email is dead or even dying, it just needs to be reinvented (it’s still the #1 daily activity, forget the “social media is more popular than email” hype.)

    Have you checked out Google Wave? That looks like a feasible future direction to me – unified messaging built around a topic. Almost like a built-on-the-fly highly personalized message thread. Come to think of it, CompuServe invented that idea too! Back in 1996 or so, CompuServe was working a on “super forum” project code-named Veda (Sanskrit for wisdom) that would have tightly integrated email with Forums. It got killed during the dark days before AOL took over. Everything old is new again…

  • dear snipe – yes, there is such a thing called social media marketing just as there is marketing research, interactive, advertising, pr, promotions, customer service, branding, etc. etc. etc. perhaps the fairy dust is what helps integrate all into a strategic marketing plan built on understanding customer needs, knowing where customers hang out and being true to brand values. loved your douchebag offer. wondering how many sales you got!

  • dear snipe – yes, there is such a thing called social media marketing just as there is marketing research, interactive, advertising, pr, promotions, customer service, branding, etc. etc. etc. perhaps the fairy dust is what helps integrate all into a strategic marketing plan built on understanding customer needs, knowing where customers hang out and being true to brand values. loved your douchebag offer. wondering how many sales you got!

  • Toby – please note, I said there was no such thing as a social media marketer, not that there was no such thing as social media marketing. There is a difference, and I choose my words carefully.

  • Toby – please note, I said there was no such thing as a social media marketer, not that there was no such thing as social media marketing. There is a difference, and I choose my words carefully.

  • Really enjoyed your post, and your points are so well taken that and so insightful that I can’t imagine disagreeing with them, though I think that an individual can be a social media marketer when they use social networks, social bookmarks, blogging, twitter and all of the other social media applications to connect with their customers in a genuine and effective manner.

    As far as being a guru or an expert or anything else, that’s all nonsense in s ‘new’ field, though some people have had more experience than others and some have meaningful insights to share – non of which rises to the level of a title , especially when its self-applied. As a female friend of mine is fond of saying ” Anytime a woman says she’s hot – she’s probably not!”

  • Really enjoyed your post, and your points are so well taken that and so insightful that I can’t imagine disagreeing with them, though I think that an individual can be a social media marketer when they use social networks, social bookmarks, blogging, twitter and all of the other social media applications to connect with their customers in a genuine and effective manner.

    As far as being a guru or an expert or anything else, that’s all nonsense in s ‘new’ field, though some people have had more experience than others and some have meaningful insights to share – non of which rises to the level of a title , especially when its self-applied. As a female friend of mine is fond of saying ” Anytime a woman says she’s hot – she’s probably not!”

  • I agree that companies shouldn’t try to hire someone as a dedicated “social media marketer” instead of having “real” employees engaged in social media.

    However, I think there is still a place for a “social media marketer” inside companies of a certain size. There are a couple of things this person can do:

    1) Manage the corporate accounts. Sure, @zappos is actually managed by the CEO, but I don’t think that’s what every company has to do. Twitter is simply a communication channel. It makes perfect sense to have a corporate account that’s managed by a dedicated social media person. They can then direct people to others within the company as appropriate… sort of a Twitter receptionist, if you will. Facebook and LinkedIn both now have company pages. A lot of businesses set up MySpace pages for the business. Who’s supposed to manage those?

    2) Evangelize social media participation within the company. Not everyone who ought to be participating is participating. And while management has to publicly support/encourage social media participation, having someone who goes and talks to individuals and makes specific suggestions, or captures their stories, or helps them set up their accounts/profiles, etc., makes perfect sense and is NOT the job of the CEO.

    3) Make suggestions for more effective engagement. Individuals shouldn’t all be trying to keep up with all the new tools, sites, services, etc. Let a social media specialist do that and filter down to what’s relevant and beneficial to the company.

    So maybe the issue is with the job description, but I think there’s definitely a need for a dedicated social media person at companies “of a certain size” (how big that is depends on the nature of your business, of course).

    Oh, and regarding “self-proclaimed social media gurus”…

    Yeah, there are some people that haven’t earned it. But some of us have and aren’t ashamed to claim it. Why? Because guess what… buyers who don’t know any better are looking on Google (or LinkedIn, as the case may be) for “social media experts” or “social media marketers” or whatever.

    It would be downright foolish NOT to lay claim to those terms. I’ll deal with differentiating myself from the johnny-and-jenny-come-latelys once I get my foot in the door. Calling yourself a social media expert isn’t ego, or pretentious, it’s just smart SEO.

  • I agree that companies shouldn’t try to hire someone as a dedicated “social media marketer” instead of having “real” employees engaged in social media.

    However, I think there is still a place for a “social media marketer” inside companies of a certain size. There are a couple of things this person can do:

    1) Manage the corporate accounts. Sure, @zappos is actually managed by the CEO, but I don’t think that’s what every company has to do. Twitter is simply a communication channel. It makes perfect sense to have a corporate account that’s managed by a dedicated social media person. They can then direct people to others within the company as appropriate… sort of a Twitter receptionist, if you will. Facebook and LinkedIn both now have company pages. A lot of businesses set up MySpace pages for the business. Who’s supposed to manage those?

    2) Evangelize social media participation within the company. Not everyone who ought to be participating is participating. And while management has to publicly support/encourage social media participation, having someone who goes and talks to individuals and makes specific suggestions, or captures their stories, or helps them set up their accounts/profiles, etc., makes perfect sense and is NOT the job of the CEO.

    3) Make suggestions for more effective engagement. Individuals shouldn’t all be trying to keep up with all the new tools, sites, services, etc. Let a social media specialist do that and filter down to what’s relevant and beneficial to the company.

    So maybe the issue is with the job description, but I think there’s definitely a need for a dedicated social media person at companies “of a certain size” (how big that is depends on the nature of your business, of course).

    Oh, and regarding “self-proclaimed social media gurus”…

    Yeah, there are some people that haven’t earned it. But some of us have and aren’t ashamed to claim it. Why? Because guess what… buyers who don’t know any better are looking on Google (or LinkedIn, as the case may be) for “social media experts” or “social media marketers” or whatever.

    It would be downright foolish NOT to lay claim to those terms. I’ll deal with differentiating myself from the johnny-and-jenny-come-latelys once I get my foot in the door. Calling yourself a social media expert isn’t ego, or pretentious, it’s just smart SEO.

  • Great post! The immediate interest of corporations around social media seems to be a vain attempt to wrestle control of “the conversation” back to where it was with traditional marketing. Of course that approach doesn’t scale, but that won’t stop a few “thought leaders” from making a buck before everyone realizes it.