Social media and content marketing are often misunderstood. In our digital world, it seems like anyone with a Facebook account can be social and anyone who has shared an artsy image on Instagram can be a content creator. So who better than a college intern who lives and breathes Snapchat to lead your brand's social media and content program, right? Not so fast. Social media spending is expected to climb to 21% of marketing budgets in the next five years, according toThe CMO Survey. As more eyeballs and dollars are being reallocated to social media, it is more important than ever to hire an experienced digital strategist who can invest the time in thoroughly understanding your business. This is what you should look for in a digital strategist:
Someone who is in it for the long haul
This is the primary reason summer interns shouldn’t run your social media strategy — they’re temporary. A few months is not enough time to immerse yourself in the business and show results. At the end of the summer, you’re left with abandoned social media channels and a poor case for investing more in social moving forward.
A business leader
Your social media strategy will only be worthy of investment if it drives toward objectives that matter to your business. That could be raising awareness for your brand or driving purchase of your product. Whatever your business objectives are, you want someone who truly understands how to engage your customers so your strategy can impact the bottom line.
A brand ambassador
Your social media presence is a representation of your brand. Every piece of content shared in your social channels tells your brand story, so the person who is managing that content and those channels should live and breathe your brand. This includes following your brand guidelines to a T and having complete mastery over your brand’s voice and tone. Speaking from experience, this takes a lot of practice, a ton of feedback and simply time.
A community manager
It takes two minutes to set up a social media channel, but it takes years to build a community. You want someone who understands your community and where they’re spending their time to speak to them in a way that drives action. And they need to be in it for the long haul; think years, not months.
Content marketing is the biggest buzzword in marketing right now. That’s because brands have realized that they can create value for their communities and drive awareness for the company through educational, entertaining, and inspirational content. To be memorable, the content on your social media channels has to come together to tell a consistent and unified brand story.
A business analyst
Social media is full of vanity metrics like followers, impressions, likes, and shares. These are distractions because they don’t impact your bottom line. Your strategist should be able to show you how your investment in social is driving business metrics that matter — awareness, leads, sales. These are the same metrics that will justify why you’re signing this person’s paycheck.
Yes, you will likely need to find all of the above in one person, a unicorn. And let’s be clear — this is a full-time job. The good news is that these unicorns exist (I work with many of them). The bad news is that they’re a diamond in the rough.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not hating on summer interns. In fact, I’ve worked with many talented interns who I’m sure will be my boss one day in the not-so-distant future. Interns, especially college students, are often on the cutting edge of social media. As digital natives, they can provide valuable perspective on what’s trending, help create interesting content, recommend new social media channels to invest in, and more. But if you’re looking for someone to steer the social media ship for your brand today, you need someone who is full-time, dedicated and embedded in your business every single day.
Do you agree? Let’s talk about it. Share your experiences in the comments below.
(Special thanks to social and content gurus Amy Chen, Karen Lee and Liana Pistell for their feedback on earlier drafts of this post.)
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