Publications & Products
Volume 3, Issue 21

Avoid Common Mismanagement of Social Media Staff

Senior leaders' lack of understanding about social media can negatively impact their organization's online presence and those who maintain it, says a communications practitioner.

Allegra Holbrook, web and social media editor at the British Association of Occupational Therapists, recently shared with Social Media Today ways in which managers "hang even the most talented social media officers out to dry and shoot their organization's online persona in the foot." Some include:

  • Being too slow to respond or not responding at all. There will always be some questions that social media officers can't answer alone, and they will need input from their managers. However, managers who are slow to respond to an urgent query from a social media officer on how to answer a pressing question or comment can risk making it seem as if the organization doesn't care about its constituents. Holbrook says, "Many senior executives don't grasp this element of social media—it moves fast. They are used to having hours, even days, to prepare a lengthy statement when issues arise. This is no longer the case. It needs to be short, to the point, and it needs to be ready in 5 minutes."
  • Not understanding how to respond. "If your social media officer emails you with a query from Twitter, please don't reply with a 2,000 word position statement," she says. "If the query is from Facebook, technical speak or jargon won't go down well. If you're not sure what approach is best for this particular query, ask your social media person. They will be only too happy to tell you."
  • Using phrases like "It's only Twitter." "There's no such thing as ‘only Twitter' anymore," Holbrook says. "The sooner you grasp that, the better the public perception of your brand will be. Using phrases that marginalize or trivialize social media not only make your digital [communications] staff feel undervalued and miserable, they grossly misunderstand your customers."
  • Isolating the social media officer. "It's not uncommon for organizations to spend months planning complex [communications] campaigns and then to run up to the social media officer at the last minute and say ‘could you pop this on Twitter?'" she says. "Include your social media officer in your [communications] planning and give them an opportunity to develop an effective social media campaign that will complement your other channels and will actually work. At least give them all the information on the topic and its background. This is the first person most of your [constituents] will speak to on this issue—don't leave them in the dark to be blindsided."

This article is from the Nov. 18, 2013 issue.

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