Hope and an Intern is Not a Social Media Strategy

It used to be a parody we heard:  When faced with a new technology the old, blue-haired boss says, “Hire some smart young kid as an intern to do that”.  Then business goes on as usual.  Sadly, that parody became real life last week at the Cruise World 2011 conference when someone who should know better gave exactly that advice to several thousand conference goers during a general session.

In the spirit of fairness, the speaker was trying to make the dive into social media seem as easy as possible for an audience packed with Boomer generation travel agents and leisure travel business owners.  But in trying to make the transition to a social business seem smooth, the speaker risked making the situation worse for all those within hearing distance.

The notion that simply building out a Facebook page or Google+ business profile (yep, They’re live now!) is all it takes for the self-service orders to come rolling in is myth.  Worse, than that, it is a dirty lie.  Rule number one with social media is that it is about engagement: with your customers, employees, friends, fans and followers.  Engagement is not something you stand up then walk away from.  It is not something that runs on autopilot.

The 2.0 Adoption Council put together a recent study of all their members to gauge the career levels and salaries of their social media practitioners.  The median result (half of responses were above and half below) was a Director level title with a salary of $114,000.

Subsequent studies, like this one from SocialFresh have identified other social media roles.  The average social community manager has over 5 years of experience, is 30 years old and makes $60,000.

These are far from intern descriptions of experience, title and pay.  Ask yourself

via infograhic at http://www.mindflash.com/

why.  Why does social media pay more than intern rates?  Why are social media professionals more experienced than interns?  If it is just about getting a facebook page up then what gives?  The reason is that it takes business savvy, strategy and skills.

Social media technology fosters engagement.  You must be engaged for engagement to work.  It extends the reach of your engagement.  It facilitates engagement at any time and across any geography.  That means it takes work.  To be engaged 24/7 you must be available 24/7.  To put the business  in social business, you need to be engaged on behalf of your business.  That means strategy.  That means business acumen.  That means having and honing the ability to manage your many-faceted social media presence.  It means knowing how to convert an angry customer into a happy evangelist.  It means having the organizational blessing and clout to do so, in real time.  It means having the acumen to mash up sales forecasts with marketing campaigns and blend them in with trending topics to get the most impact for your business.  It means knowing what to measure.  Fans and followers are great but if they’re not turning into customers and evangelists, leave them to the interns.

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