In many jobs there’s a lot of disconnect between the ivory tower and the front-line employees. I doubt AT&T executives know that on an average day there’s at least 4 tech trucks parked outside my apartment complex, the inhabitants visiting with each other rather than answering tickets.
Here’s 3 things that the C-Level suite still doesn’t understand about social media:
1.) That the job never ends.
Executives inherently get that the Internet is “always on” and that customers are always talking about your brand, but what they don’t often understand is that you could literally work all the time if you so desired.
You could spend more time:
- Searching Twitter and Facebook for people talking about your brand and answering their questions, pointing them to your content, and fostering a genuine relationship with them
- Scouring message boards and engaging with people discussing your brand
- Creating more content, promoting and sharing it on more outposts
We get that you saw something cool that Brand X did, or a metric that Brand Y put on a pretty slide and wondered why we didn’t think of that. Chances are we thought of it, but a big part of our job is prioritizing what will make the most impact for our brand, and there’s only so much you can do every day. This is especially true if social is integrated within the majority of your business objectives.
2.) There aren’t always specific projects.
Executives always want to know what projects you’re working on. Community managers, coordinators, analysts, etc. that work primarily with social media don’t usually have projects that span months at a time with fancy flow charts and time lines.
While we do sometimes execute bigger campaigns (ones that hopefully don’t end at the end of said campaign), much of our day-to-day job is significantly more granular that. A lot of our time is spent:
- Keeping up with constantly shifting emerging trends and technologies
- Creating content to raise awareness, drive traffic, and convert new customers
- Facilitating interactions with our customers and also helping our customers engage each another
- Determining new KPIs to measure, evolving ways to convey key metrics and ROI to you
We’re in the trenches, connecting with the people who open their wallets for our product. We’re not scheduling vendors, organizing projects or conveying vision to the masses — we’re executing on the front lines. It’s different; good companies need both types.
3.) Your customers don’t care about your marketing message or your branding campaign.
You think they do, but they really don’t. They care about what you can do for them, how your product makes them feel, and if your brand’s narrative becomes a part of their story. Hipsters don’t wear Wranglers. Rednecks don’t drink Hennessy.
“Get a PDF of that article about our new hand soap in Magazine XYZ and tweet that out. Share it on our Facebook page too.” – Imaginary C-Level Executive
And that’s fine. Social validation is important, but your social channels are not just another platform to push out your marketing message or your accolades. Accumulating counting numbers like Twitter followers and Facebook fans means absolutely nothing if those people aren’t actively engaged with the content your sharing.
Part of that is having great content, but a bigger part of it is NOT shoving that content down their throat, rather giving them what THEY want, and then taking it a step further and fostering 1-to-1 relationships to ensure it really is what they want. Give them a reason to share your content, but also show them how.
Creating ambassadors that market your product/service for you is takes a lot longer than blasting your marketing/PR messages out of the bullhorn, but the ROI on advocacy will be better, particularly as our society becomes increasingly dependent on the word-of-mouth from friends and family.
What other things have you found that the C-Level just doesn’t get about social media? How should employees on the front line explain these things to the higher-ups?