By Adam Wakefield

Not a job for the fresh-faced intern

Digital marketer and marketing company Spit Spot founder, Robyn Hobson, says corporate social media serves as a valuable customer touch point, and it is critical that it is managed by a team who understands the brand’s values and operations, social media marketing and ideally a bit of consumer psychology.

“As we saw in 2015, these channels are a fertile breeding ground for PR disasters and these are amplified when you have a powerless or unskilled team managing the channels,” Hobson explains.

“In a crisis, customers and media alike turn to these channels to gauge how the brand responds and handles the matter. It’s a significant reflection on how you do business and should not be dismissed as a line-item in the marketing budget. It cannot be stressed enough that this is definitely not the job for the fresh-faced intern you just hired.”

Kelly Dido, an account manager at public relations consultancy Atmosphere Communications, says consumers tend to be more vocal on social media and if this is not managed in the correct manner it has the potential to damage a brand’s reputation.

“As a PR specialist, there are specific steps to follow in managing a ‘crisis’ on social and to ensure the consumer is satisfied in the quickest time possible,” Dido says. “Apart from a crisis, the platform could also be valuable for the brand to learn more about their consumers - what they want and what makes them happy.”

The right team needs to be in place to manage communication, identify opportunities, gather insights from day-to-day management, and give feedback to brand teams.

Communications, PR, marketing or bust?

Last year, American recruitment company The Creative Group conducted a survey of advertising and marketing executives, asking the question “In your opinion, which of the following departments is best suited to manage a company’s social media efforts?”

Over half (51%) picked out the public relations and/or communications department as being best suited for the task. Marketing was next placed at 28%, then customer service at nine percent, and the CEO or owner at five percent.

The results differ from The Creative Group’s 2013 survey, where the PR and communications department received 39% to marketing’s 35%. Customer service received 15%, while the CEO or owner stayed on five percent.

All for one and one for all

When asked a similar question, Dido and Hobson both suggest department integration is a necessary facet of managing a corporate’s social media. Where they differ slightly is where such a team exists within the corporate organogram.

“The PR, marketing and advertising space is so closely linked; I believe for a corporate account to work successfully it’s important for these parties to work as an integrated team. We are all experts in our various fields and if this fusion of expertise can work seamlessly it presents the best results,” Dido argues.

Hobson says the role of social media management needs to draw from several areas to be effective for both the brand and the consumer. 

“In my experience with corporate companies, an entirely separate team who interacts with all the necessary departments should manage your accounts.  Nine times out of 10, this team sits within the marketing department,” she says.

When eggs get broken, make an omelette

While every effort is made to eliminate mistakes, when one is made on social media, Hobson and Dido advise a planned approach that emphasises speed, authenticity, and transparency.

“This is not the time to dodge accountability and fabricate excuses that exonerate the brand of guilt. If anything, this is an opportune moment to turn a sour PR moment into a golden one – so don’t waste it,” Hobson says.

Are you a social media professional? Tell us your thoughts in the comment below.