For most consumers, social media is fun. It’s amusing, it’s a distraction, it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends. It’s many things, but it’s not a job. This is probably why companies have been a little slow to realize the need for an in-house social media expert. Many businesses have thought they could get away with having Jane in Customer Service create a Facebook page or post a few Twitter announcements. What they didn’t realize is how much dedicated employee time is required to successfully partake in social media marketing and customer service.
For personal networking, a reasonable, minimum amount of time dedicated to social media sites could be 30 minutes to an hour a day (which is a lot considering that’s on top of a normal work day). For businesses however, social media takes at least twice the time as traditional marketing. A business wanting to promote themselves through social media channels could easily dedicate one person for a half-hour to a full day on social media and blogging sites. A successful social media plan involves multiple social media websites, involving writing, connecting, promoting, answering, and getting the “buzz” out.
What should you expect from a social media guru? They’ll spend their time on Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and maybe MySpace. There might be additional sites, depending on the brand. They’ll be writing blogs, answering questions, commenting and following up on customer feedback (both positive and negative), creating and maintaining “pages,” promoting new features, products or services. Some may additionally promote sweepstakes and special campaigns. And let’s not forget reports back to management.
The key to successful interactions, monitoring and customer service online is a consistent presence, and presence means visible time online. If customers don’t detect a presence then they’ll interpret that as poor customer service. Consumer focus via social media is time-consuming because there are multiple avenues in which to reach consumers, each worthy of attention; and therefore worthy of your time. It’s easy to see how a dedicated employee is necessary to successfully stay on top of customers in online social venues.
So, if the new social media expert explains that they’re spending most of the day tweeting and responding to Facebook comments don’t be surprised. The question decision makers will ask is whether it’s worth it. After all, a part to full-time salary for something that almost seems “fun” might appear a bit trivial. But the answer is a big Yes. Allocating resources for social media sites is very worth it. With proper and consistent evangelizing and customer support, businesses will most likely see positive results sooner than they expect.