Can you handle social media in-house?

I’m always concerned when I see job ads running for social media managers of companies. I can’t help but wonder if it’s something of a knee-jerk reaction along the lines of ‘this social media thing isn’t going away, throw resources at it, and hopefully that sorts it out,’ by a management team.

While social media has been around a while now, when it comes to recruitment, in my mind it’s a wild frontier with plenty of candidates to choose from, all purporting to know what they are doing because they’ve had a Facebook profile for more than two years and post status updates fairly regularly.

In actual fact, I’d dare say there are more than a few cowboys and cowgirls in the mix, spurred on by a motivation for a job playing on social networks eight hours a day and hopefully having a hell of a lot of fun in the process. Sure they might bamboozle you with talk of ‘engagement’, ‘Hootsuite’ and ‘daily insights’ in the hope of convincing you that they know what they are doing, but I’d say your chances of finding someone who can really do it justice are about as hopeful of finding a gold nugget at the end of the gold rush.

All the good ones are taken

You see chances are, all the good ones are probably not looking for a J.O.B (Just Over Broke). They’re much more likely to be riding their own crazy horse in the massive stampede that is social media by running their own business, or as a highly paid consultant or professional speaker. The other tell-tale sign is that they will have a significant social media imprint of their own. After all, if they are talking the talk, are they walking the walk? The social media specialist for The Creative Collective for instance has 60,000 Twitter followers and 100,000 video views on her YouTube account. The Creative Collective as a company has combined social networks in excess of 100,000. And we didn’t buy one of them.

Collaboration is key

I reckon you’d be hard pressed to find someone who actually knows not only what they are doing across networks, but who has the marketing and business acumen to execute and effective strategy and keep up with all the trends, tools and emerging networks.

Instead of hiring and hoping, I’d therefore encourage a collaborative approach, with a significant training budget to still work closely with an agency to ensure you are keeping at the cutting edge of what is a very fast and vast marketplace.

In 2012 alone we had Facebook introduce promoted posts and sponsored stories, effectively ambushing Facebook posts as we knew it, Pinterest launch a business version, Facebook buy Instagram and Google buy Wildfire. Have you got an internal social media person already? Try them out now by asking them if they’ve heard of any of these major developments and watch them sweat.

What I predict will happen

I predict that this year, many companies will wake up to the fact that they can’t do social media justice without a strong commitment to training and will look to rightfully outsource, or certainly call in for some assistance. The sooner they do the better.

By working with professionals, they’ll discover that there is a lot more to social media than what meets the eye and will start to dabble with it for more elaborate HR purposes then checking up on what a prospective staff member did on the weekend, and straight-forward marketing and promotion.


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Yvette Adams
BY Yvette Adams ON 26 March 2013
Yvette Adams is a serial entrepreneur and multi-award winning businesswoman based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. She is the founder and owner of The Creative Collective, a creative agency offering a range of creative services and training, and, an online portal helping connect business owners to business awards they could enter.
  • jaganlamb

    Definitely an interesting perspective – notably, due to the fact that the author probably has a vested interest in agency validation and promotion. Whilst I have an amazing amount of respect and admiration for the value that most agencies provide, I am somewhat surprised at the seemingly arrogant (and frankly, rather naive) view of the author.

    The insinuation [I’m paraphrasing here] that it’s only dim-witted children who are ‘playing’ at social media work for clients – because clearly anyone with any ‘skill’ must already be working in an agency is astonishing! (In a preposterous, gaping mouth kind of way)

    Perhaps the author has had some poor experiences or personal challenges with certain clients or individuals – unfortunately, we all deal with idiots at work who don’t know what they’re doing – but to have this generalised accusation of all client ‘Social Media Managers’ is both naive and insulting.

    Agencies can provide some amazing ideas and required support- however let’s be honest here – if we look at the social media ‘blunders’ over the past few years; most of them have been driven and implemented by an agency on behalf of the client.

    Here’s how it happens…the agency pitches to the client, and the client – who has not yet invested in this area – trusts that the agency understands social media and how to use it best for their business and brand. So the client gets whisked up in something that they really “must” do (because, like, everyone is on this platform now and it’s totally what you should do)

    The end of this story can be seen in hundreds of different examples we all chuckle about when we hear of them – the social media blunders.

    The role of a Social Media Manager within an organisation is critical – this is the person who needs to fully understand digital, social media AND the brand – the values…the voice…the products…the customers..and of course, the employees. The strategy within social needs to be built around pillars such as these in order to be truly successful – and forgive me, but there is no agency in existence that can truly understand all these critical factors. (Refer back to those blunders if you need proof)

    I don’t disagree with the author that many ‘social media managers’ probably should not be in their roles. I do believe though that the author should further explore what the role of the social media manager is actually for, how to best leverage them, and why it is critical for (both) the agency and the client that one is employed.