I read this post by R.L. Stollar about Applebee’s incredibly botched attempt to salvage their reputation with ever-increasing horror. I took more than a few moments to feel very grateful I have a fantastic team that includes a person overflowing with the PR goodness, if you’ll excuse the rather odd visual.
Far too often, the social media person in a company is someone handed the virtual keys to the corporate Facebook and Twitter accounts and told to go play in addition to their regular job. The company wants a presence on the big social media platforms, so the company gets that presence. All the other companies are doing it, right?
This clearly isn’t enough. It helps to have a person who knows their way around Facebook and Twitter, but you can’t just leave it at that. There is always a learning curve, and social media constantly evolves on top of that; we’re all finding out new things every day.
If you don’t keep common sense in the forefront, though, mistakes like Applebee’s are going to happen. That’s why I recommend not only a dedicated social media person but a team around that person. Since companies often add social media as an after-thought, they might already have the people they need in-house. These include:
- Someone with PR-savvy. An editorial background helps here. What you want is someone who can help de-escalate situations before they even have a chance to get to the state of Applebee’s current migraine. While it’s important to respond to issues like this, saying something just to have a response can do even more damage than waiting until you’ve crafted the right approach.
- One or two people focused on lead generation and lead nurturing. If your company sells anything, you should already have people who do this. Make sure they include social media in their campaigns, and are available to help guide the person in the trenches with ways to connect with your audience.
- A campaigns coordinator. “Campaigns” can mean different things in different companies, but a dedicated campaigns person can help establish trends around what people want to see from the brand, and help generate more of what keeps people coming back, from website to social media channels.
- An analytics person. Often this task is lumped in with the social media person, but being the spider moderating the social media web is a full-time job itself, so having someone available to analyze data such as Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, traffic back to the website, SEO, and so forth is essential.
- A content guru. There’s really no point in having a social media presence if you’ve got nothing good to back it up. Whether or not your goal is to drive people back to your website, having good content that makes sense for your audience and gives them what they need is essential. Don’t just put something out there for the sake of filling up space.
The most important thing you can do, whether you have a huge team backing you or you’re on your own, is this: Think before you act (or react).
If you have any other tips, please leave them in the comments.