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Staffing Strategies for Social Media Marketing


In this excerpt from my Marketing 2.0 book, I discuss staffing strategies for social media marketing…One of the benefits I described is the ability to tap into staff wherever they may be in the org chart. Staffers should enjoy their work when they are instrumental in building and maintaining your social media strategy especially as their personal brand begins to grow. But, how do you develop your staff to get great results?

social media staffingHaving the Right People on the Bus. Successful social media marketing requires people who understand it, embrace it and know how to work within the culture and technology.  People need to understand the lifecycle and the types of community involved in social media in order to better understand the opportunities and the risks to minimize.

Roles should not only be well defined and documented, they should also be discussed in-depth.  Everyone on the team must be on board with his or her roles and responsibilities.  Then, the heavy lifting begins.  In some cases, heavy lifting has been in place for some time, but now you are in a better position to turn it up a notch with better clarity of roles. Ongoing discussions about roles and responsibilities should occur as changes may be needed as your social media plan matures.

However, what if you realize you don’t have the right staff for social media marketing?  The fact is some people just don’t understand social media.  Sometimes the barrier is demographic, but most often it’s just an I don’t get it attitude. Worse yet, some may just resist it for any number of reasons.  There are still many people who are stuck in the traditional marketing paradigm, and they are not ready to shift to the new social media paradigm.  Remind yourself that when the Internet became available to the public in the mid 90’s, many companies at first resisted setting up their website for a few years.  Today, a website is considered any organization’s calling card to the world, and every serious business has one.  Don’t fret- the laggards will eventually get on the social media train because the forward momentum of the culture and the technology will sweep them along.  The real problem is this: What if they’re holding you back today?  If you face that scenario, here are some ideas to consider…

Not an Overnight Thing…Don’t force everyone to jump into a social media strategy overnight.  An overnight commitment with a take no prisoners mentality can produce corporate culture shock.  You run the risk of becoming a maverick, which can trigger counter productive results.  The best way to win people over is to approach it gradually with small but highly visible wins.  Assess the people on your team and determine who is best suited to contribute to your social media strategy.  People have strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes.  It’s your job to recognize who may embrace using social media and who may shun it.  If you are not the manager and you want to convince management to begin using social media for marketing purposes, you may have a tall task ahead of you.  Consider some of the advice I offer here.

Think Social…People who embrace social media tend to be social.  If this sounds a bit trite, hear me out.  Being social doesn’t necessarily mean being gregarious, boisterous, or the life of the party.  Social people are self-confident people, even if quietly so.  Their self-confidence may be limited to a specific area of expertise, but they are confident about something.  I’ve noticed that some people who might otherwise shun a public social setting are often very social about something in online social media situations.  The key is to recognize the personality attributes of the people in your organization, as well as to recognize their domains of expertise and passions, and then convince them to dip their toes in the social media waters.  Asking someone to display their expertise or passion in a way that helps your organization meet its strategic objectives is giving that individual an opportunity to shine.  For some, it’s a new opportunity they may embrace willingly.  Find the people who will embrace these opportunities and recruit them to your team.  If necessary, move people around on your team to position it for success in using social media.  Along the way, giving people new opportunities where they can achieve tangible results and be recognized by peers and management will be part of your job as the manager.  People who like to write about a specific topic and have some level of creativity or technical acuity are good candidates for your team.

Definition of Job Roles. At some point it will be wise to redefine job roles so that they reflect your commitment to a Marketing 2.0 strategy.  If you consider social media marketing additive, then to which employee’s plate do you add it?  This will be different in each organization.  In some companies, the CEO embraces social media by blogging or being active in a social network.  This is a best-case scenario, because the CEO can set the tone for the rest of the organization.  In most cases, you’ll need to allocate time away from one activity in order to allow time for social media marketing activities.  In the beginning, always start small.  It may not be difficult to decide to cut back on some activities that don’t yield results.  Don’t continue doing something just because you’ve always done it that way or because it always produces the same results.  You do know this is the definition of insanity, don’t you?

A commitment to a social media plan requires a formal review of people’s job description and in some cases revising job descriptions to reflect allocation of their time.

Social media staff skills require a blend of creativity, writing, organizational skills, analytics and teamwork. A social media plan should leverage the individual talents of staffers while orchestrating them to work as a team to achieve results.

As your social media strategy evolves, so should your staff’s skills, titles, the way they spend their time and the way you recruit new team members.  In the years to come, social media skills will be prominently displayed on resumes. In fact, they already are…

What staffing strategies have you observed among Marketing 2.0 organizations?


25 thoughts on “Staffing Strategies for Social Media Marketing”

  1. Great information, especially the part about people within your organization and the benefit they gain from participating in building/participating in the company's social media marketing. You're right, who better to leverage social media for a company.

    Maria Reyes-McDavis
    Social Marketing with Impact

  2. Well explained. Thanks.

    I agree, Social media gives staff the opportunity to produce good results using contemporary tools in an enjoyable work environment.Also Marketing staffers who embrace social media tend to really enjoy it,especially as they begin building a personal brand.

  3. Nice post. I've noticed that organizations are finally starting to come around and realize they need to start staffing for social media marketing positions. This is mostly due to the fact that they realize social media is out there and they need to "do something about it", but also genuine realization that the new paradigm of marketing is for real.

    I agree that it's a great idea to staff within the organization, but at the same time I think it's important to have someone who's full-time role it is to be the social media leader in the organization. This would be the person who is the external voice for the company, serves up best practices for the rest of the organization, and helps with other social media efforts. Over time, I think the need for this role will slowly disappear as social media marketing becomes so integrated into every part of the marketing efforts that it will be everyone's job to be a social media expert, not just one or two people.

  4. Very interesting post. Thank you for sharing this.

    I really like the emphasizing of team work. That will be the key to success.

    The thing I am wondering is what amount of time will be set of to do social media marketing from a person in the virtual team?

    or more?

  5. The amount of time it will take a marketing team for SMM varies from company to company. For those just getting started it will be low. For others it will be much more.

    As companies commit more to SMM and get positive results the percentage will be very high. The results will justify it.

  6. I strongly believe that "speed to market" and "co-opting existing talent" are at odds in this scenario. To me, THAT is the issue.

    Most of our organizations are pretty lean. People wouldn't be onboard if they weren't strong contributors. So simply walking away from existing talent because they "don't get it", while sounding expedient, leaves some critical value behind. Conclusion: move slowly.

    On the other hand, playing nice while everyone catches up wastes precious time and squanders learning opportunities, possibly eliminating the first-to-market opportunity. Conclusion: move quickly.

    The question is, how does an organization move quickly AND enjoy their existing team resources? I wish I had THE answer.

    My path forward on this challenge has been to clearly state the facts, issues, goals, dreams, etc. to all, and to invite any- and everyone to join in. Eventually (quickly) a cadre of true believers emerged – while others remained "traditional".

    The "believers" had to assume more work (and risk) as they implemented social media tactics and practices, while experiencing the scrutiny and, sometimes, criticism, of the "traditionals". As each victory arose (and was published), we continually shared why and how we did it, and invited everyone to join in. Eventually more and more people got it – as the results became conclusive and impressive.

    Interestingly, in the face of overwhelming proof, data, and facts, some "traditionals" still say, "I don't get it". I am dumbfounded at that, but remain open, transparent, and welcoming – in hopes that the facts eventually earn everyone's confidence.

  7. Rick – your experience is very credible. For the benefit of other readers I'll mention that you and your organization have been at it for at least four years now and you're getting measurable results as you mention.

    Your valuable insights offer tangible evidence that social media marketing is for real. It's not a magic wand which perhaps is sometimes incorrectly implied. It takes hard work with persistence and measurement strategies.

    Thanks again for your valuable insights.

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