Watch Who Handles Your SM?

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Social media is one of the best tools in a marketer’s arsenal, but also one of the most dangerous. Because it’s a more direct form of communication, there are no built-in ways to screen messages for offensive or inappropriate content as there are in print advertising and public relations (granted, mistakes are still made in those mediums, but it’s far less likely to happen than in social media).

What it boils down to is that you have to be extremely careful about who manages all your social media accounts. Even responsible employees can make mistakes, but some are more prone to risk than others.

Executives

Giving C-Level executives access to a blog or twitter account is a great way to build credibility in B2B clients, especially if their tweets and posts are relevant and thought-provoking (bonus points if they write it themselves). But there are still executives who can’t string together a coherent written sentence, or have no idea how to use a company Twitter account responsibly. This can result in irresponsible tweets, horrible blog articles, and embarrassing posts on LinkedIn groups. Because they are placed so highly, it reflects badly on the company as a whole.

Contractors

It’s common practice to hire a third party to do your social media, whether it’s an agency or an individual. This arrangement definitely has some advantages, especially if social media is the contractor’s specialty.

You should, however, be realistic and accept that the contractor is not part of your company and is not as immersed in your brand as you are. Some of the messages might be off-brand as a result. Also, they may not provide the right answers when questioned about your product—especially if it’s highly technical. Also, being in another location slows the contractor’s response time in case of time-critical situations like emergencies.

Intern

At the face of it, handing your social media to an intern is a good idea. They work for free (or nearly so), and are probably young and well-acquainted with the technology. The problem is that interns are also temporary, and any connections they make will be gone the moment they leave the company. You could mitigate this by giving them a generic company-branded profile, but you still have to make sure they properly document their activities so you know exactly where they’ve been, who they’ve been talking to, and what they’ve been saying.

Yourself

You might be thinking, “if you want something done right you better do it yourself”. Nothing’s stopping you from doing so, but keep in mind that you’re just as prone to mistakes and oversights as the next person. Handling multiple social media accounts in addition to your own can make you vulnerable to accidental tweets, and being your own voice means nobody will second-guess you as to whether your message is appropriate or not. You just need to ensure that if things do go wrong, you are proactive to prevent the brand falling from bad to worse.

All of the problems above are indeed possible, and have already occurred in other organizations, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give these people access to your social media. The advantages of each person still outweigh their risks, which are easily addressed by establishing some procedures and guidelines that will help your social media people do their jobs safely and effectively, such as editorial calendars and pre-approval procedures.

Who handles your social media? What challenges have you encountered in managing them? Share them in the comments below!