The Top Obstacle To Social Media Success Is Lack Of Skilled Resources

January 13, 2015

Report reveals the number one obstacle to social media success is lack of in-house resources/skills. Learn why the other obstacles are symptomatic and five attributes of a good social media manager.  

eMarketer published a report in December highlighting what marketing professionals struggle with in achieving social media marketing success. ROI was predictably top of the list. What might be surprise you, I know it did me, is that lack of skilled talent was number one. In an industry saturated with social media “gurus”, “strategists” and “experts” there is certainly not a lack of warm bodies for hire. I suspect that social marketing has finally matured as a profession and companies are starving for true marketing expertise.

Being someone who focuses on social media as their core expertise my perception could be skewed from the bubble, but it seems like everyone coming out of the woodwork is a “social media expert”. They come in all forms from fresh out of college mini-preneurs, to graphic designers looking for upsells, to people without any marketing experience whatsoever offering consulting services. It can be maddening to career marketers who want social media to be taken seriously. I understand it is part of the process to establish an emerging marketing practice. It happened with SEO, which is to this day still plagued with fast food search marketing agencies, black hat consultants, and spammers from the dark corners of the earth. (If you are reading this please stop leaving backlink comments on my blogs.) I accept that social media marketing is evolving. After all we’ve all jumped on the bandwagon haven’t we?

Taking a look at report, below, it is clear that three of the top five obstacles are a symptom of the first issue, lack of in-house resources. The lack of effective strategy, compelling content, and integration across marketing channels and to some extent ROI, tie right back to having the talent.

The type of resource capable of that sort of sophistication has years of experience in various marketing disciplines, primarily digital. If you already have that type of talent on your team congratulations! The remaining issue could be that they simply do not have enough time dedicated to social media to: 1. be strategic, and 2. execute in a quality way. I bet this sounds familiar to a lot of you!

In July 2014 polling by EXHIBITOR Media Group, 58% of US marketers said they spent 5 hours or less managing—strategizing, executing and monitoring—their social media presence weekly. ~eMarketer

Employees need space to be creative and strategic. I call it mind space. Executing a successful social media program takes well above five hours per week. It’s a full-time job. You have got to allow that person to own it. Many companies have turned to outsourcing to skilled professionals rather than putting unrealistic expectations on their team or dealing with high employee turn over. That’s essentially what my social media marketing agency, Fandom Marketing, exists to do. Working as an extension of a client’s marketing team we fill the gap in resources or skill set. Providing a scalable team to expand programs.

I’ve made it a rule not to use interns to manage social media. I hire social media marketers to do social media marketing. Hiring isn’t easy and resourcing the right type of work to the right person is as challenging for me as anyone else. Having interviewed a lot of people to fill social media roles over the years, I have a pretty good idea of what I’m looking for now. Here’s my list.

Top Five Attributes of a Good Social Media Manager

  1. Marketing experience – Depending on the job level (junior to senior) I want to see years of marketing experience. Someone who has a foundation in marketing, communications or PR will understand how social media integrates across channels and what ROI stands for.
  2. Personal passion – You can’t expect a disengaged person to jump in to engage your audience. They are either a social media type or not. If they enjoy doing it personally and have a passion for the space, that passion will transfer to your audience.
  3. Social media for business – While many people can have a passion for doing social media personally, it doesn’t mean they have a lick of knowledge about how to execute properly for a brand. All too often social media is thrown around like a hot potato to anyone who has used [insert social network] before. I feel like I need to create a “Are you wearing pants?” type flow chart for this… refer back to 1 and 2.
  4. Good writer – Social media management requires a hybrid of marketing skills. The perfect resource would love spreadsheets, analyze data, jump in Photoshop to pump out fun Infographics, shoot product photos like a professional street photographer, and craft some well written blogs nailing the hot topic of the day. The reality is you have to rank, pick and choose the skills you’re going to get in an employee. I rank writing and communication tops. Not that creative and analytics are not important, they are. But when it comes down to what skill someone will be using the majority of the time without supervision, I will take a good communicator.
  5. A people advocate – Customer experience is a big part of social media engagement. If you sell a product or service there’s no way around it. Customer service people make excellent community managers for this reason. It takes empathy, good communication skills and most importantly a desire to advocate for people over policies. This crosses over to partners, employees and people in the press who are all part of a companies audience. These relationships with the company are carried out into its social media pages. You want someone who is mindful and good with people on the front line.

Social Media Success

Many of the social media struggles marketing professionals are up against come down to time and talent. Whether you outsource to an agency or hire in-house, make sure they have the expertise and time to do it right. After all, with social media becoming the most popular marketing tactic behind email and with nearly half of business executives planning to up their spend in 2015, it’s time to take it seriously.

Source: December 2014 research by StrongView, in conjunction with SENSORPRO

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