Recently, Sam Fiorella, the co-founder of Sensei Marketing, wrote a blog post called “Why Your Social Media Team Should Be PR Professionals.” As a PR and marketing professional, I wanted to see what he had to say. I found myself nodding all the way through his post:
- Yes, PR pros know how to manage crises.
- Yes, we are trained to manage reputations.
- Yes, we know the right questions to ask to create a calm before the storm.
- Yes, we can train pros in other disciplines to manage themselves appropriately online.
- Yes, most of the knee-jerk reactions that occur in social media happen because the community management is handled by someone without these skills.
But as much as I'd love to agree with Fiorella—that social media should belong to the PR pros—I just can't.
The Key to Social Media Success
Back in the day, people (mostly women) were hired by companies to type. Businesses had an entire floor of typists so the "real" businesspeople (mostly men) didn't have to be bothered. But as Bill Gates got his wish and the personal computer found a place in every home, office and public space, it no longer made sense to hire typists.
We all learned to type. In fact, schools are now teaching typing more quickly than handwriting. It's become an essential communication tool—from texting on our smartphones to emailing all day long behind our computer screens. The keyboard now belongs to everyone.
In the same way, social media belongs to everyone. Every department in your company has reasons to use social media to achieve their business goals:
- The sales team should use it to network with new prospects.
- The customer service team should use it to answer questions, immediately respond to issues and generally build loyalty.
- The product team should use it for research and informal focus groups.
- The marketing team should use it for customer acquisition.
- The advertising team should use it for market research and crowdsourcing.
- The PR team should use it for reputation management and brand awareness, and to manage an issue before it becomes a crisis.
- The finance team should use it to scope out pricing and early indications of commoditization and bearish economic market.
- The executive team should use it for thought leadership and credibility.
And one person (or a team of people) who has enough knowledge of each of the departments to be dangerous should be responsible for coordinating the corporate-wide messaging. That person could be a PR pro, the receptionist, a computer programmer or an engineer. It doesn't matter who it is, as long as they have the knowledge and skills to oversee this task.
When you approach social media as everyone's job, it becomes less of a hassle to try to keep up with technology. It makes your brand and reputation easier to manage. And you can systemize the way you manage internal and external audiences.
To put your employees on the same page, hold monthly training sessions that talk to key messages and your brand's vision and values. Offer examples of social media done well inside your organization in the past 30 days, leads you've cultivated and customers you've won. Not everyone will be on board to begin with, but when they start to see the success of their colleagues who are participating, it will begin to cultivate throughout your entire organization.
The culture will shift from "sales versus everyone else" to "we're all responsible for business growth," all through the approach that social media belongs to everyone.
Read more articles on social media.
Photo: Getty Images