Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Don't Hire a Social Media Manager

I'm at the ASAE Technology Conference. LOTS of sessions about social media, of now we association people should have this whole social media thing down pat, right? You need to be listening to what your members and others are saying online--about you, about the professions your org represents, etc. You need a strategy with clearly-defined goals and objectives. You should be thinking about who, on your staff, will lead your org's social media efforts. Because everyone knows, by now, that social media is not a fad and is not going away.

You have all those boxes checked and you're golden, right? Not so fast. For all the talk of strategies and techniques and engagement and, you know, unicorns and rainbows, there's one piece that is critical to social media success that is still not being addressed. That piece is the importance of your organization's culture.

Charlene Li spoke to this point in her keynote address yesterday (ok, I have that on hearsay only because I wasn't there, but read Open Leadership to get the gist). Her point? Is your organization really ready, willing and able to roll out these magical social media initiatives? Sure, you just got budget to hire a dedicated person for this role....but are you really ready to go there? 

Let me ask you a few questions: 1) what staff level is this new role benchmarked at? 2) Is your organization high on hierarchy? 3) If so, will this person have a seat at the senior management table? 4) I mean, who puts a coordinator at that table on a regular basis? 

Here's my holiday gift to you: if your answers to those questions are 1) support or non-managerial, 2) yes, 3) no, and 4) nobody, do yourself a favor and save that money--don't hire the budgeted-for coordinator or manager-in-name only. Just abandon your social media plans and stick your head back in the sand and don't bother.

Why? How can I, the champion of social media and/or community management, be saying don't hire for this role when I've been writing about how important it is for years? Because IF YOU ORGANIZATION IS NOT FULLY COMMITTED TO SUPPORTING A SOCIAL MEDIA/COMMUNITY MANAGER, DON'T WASTE THAT PERSON'S TIME. Or yours, for that matter.

That person will be passionate about doing the job right and well, and doing that requires you to dispense with your hierarchy, your non-existent internal communications ability, and most importantly, your "we've always done it this way" mantra. If you are not ready to break your overall organizational mold and open your mind and your closed senior staff meetings, your social media efforts--and manager--will fall flat.   

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