I met her on Twitter. Okay, that’s not really fair since it’s Shelby’s line, but it’s the truth. If you’re looking for a top-shelf social media manager for your organization, start your search in the social media universe. I wasn’t looking for an expert. I was looking for a person who utilized social media the way I did – to communicate with people.
Social media is NOT social selling
When the time came to find a social media manager for ColorMetrix, the last thing I was looking for was someone who knew how to schedule broadcast tweets. If that had been what I’d wanted to do, I would have purchased ads in the few remaining print trade journals that still exist. What I was looking for was someone capable of holding conversations online with our customers and potential customers.
By conversations, I don’t mean answering questions about quality, price and delivery. I already know how to do that and most of the answers to those questions already exist on our website. No, I wanted someone who gave ColorMetrix a voice online. Sure, I had a strategy in mind; but I was looking for someone to blow holes in my strategy and thereby make it a better strategy.
We already know how to sell at ColorMetrix. What we needed help with was communicating, engaging and telling our story. That is the role of a social media manager.
Engage and tell the story
Anyone can schedule a tweet to promote products or new blog posts on your company blog. Not just anyone can track down a Twitter chat called #PrintChat and participate almost every Wednesday at 4 p.m. for a year straight. Not everyone can write a post about the 17 years she spent in the newspaper industry and spin it as a tale about the decline of color quality in that segment of the print industry.
Your social media manager will need to be on board with the company. I’m not in the camp that thinks your social media can be managed by an outside agency. Sure, Shelby is a 1099 contractor to ColorMetrix; but she does more than social media. She manages our trade show exhibits, our email marketing and even projects with some of our largest clients. She understands us and has her finger on the pulse of the company.
If you’re the senior executive charged with finding a social media manager, look for someone like you. While Shelby and I don’t agree on everything (and have actually made a business out of that disagreement), we do see pretty much eye-to-eye on what a company’s social media presence should look like. You should be arguing the details – not the big picture – with your chosen individual. Also, you should be willing to trust them. I still see no value in our Facebook page, but Shelby insists it’s valuable. I’ll trust her until I have rock solid evidence to the contrary. Just as I trust my gut feelings, I need to be willing to trust hers as well.
That’s what it really comes down to: Trust your gut and then trust the gut feelings of the person you pick. You can’t do it all yourself and grow at the rate you want.