RonAmok!

The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.
Nov 24, 2008

When I first saw Western Digital’s job posting for a  Social Media Manager, I was excited. All companies need dedicated employees to spend time in online communities. But the more I read, the more frustrated I got. It was clear to me that the author of the description had no clue as to what Social Media was all about.

The goals for the job include:

“…driving Web traffic and establishing and maintaining a favorable image of the company and its products with influential consumers, potential customers and the general public through social media channels…”

Hmm…”Driving traffic” wouldn’t be the first metric in my list to determine one’s Social Media Success. Nor would using Social Media to “maintain a favorable image.”

The operative words used here are “drive” and “maintain,” two control words used by traditionals who are still under the delusion that they have control over their brand and messages. Social Media is about transparent online conversations. One cannot “drive” or “maintain” a conversation. Instead, one can only “start,” “participate in,” or just sit back and “observe” them.

It gets even wackier. Under Essential Duties, we find:

  • Clear understanding of journalistic media and how they communicate with their audiences. This usually takes several years of working with journalists, understanding their needs, gaining their trust and generating editorial coverage for organizations
  • Ability to write clearly and in the accepted editorial style, as well as communicate verbally on a journalistic level is very important
  • Clear understanding of social media, including social sites, blogs, forums and the tools necessary to reach online consumer communities
  • Clear understanding of online communities, understanding their needs, gaining their trust and participating in those communities

Who exactly is this Social Media Manager supposed to be communicating with? Journalists or Consumers? Doesn’t Western Digital already have PR types to pitch to journalists? If so, why add this as a duty of your Social Media Manager? The Social Media manager should be spending as much time in the community as possible, subscribing to RSS feeds, performing online searches, interacting with consumers, finding content for the company blog, and measuring everything. Let the PR folks deal with the journalists.

Next…what exactly is the “accepted editorial style” for Social media sites? Is there an editorial style guide for Twitter? How about Facebook? MySpace?

The problem with this job — as it’s written — is that it’s asking the Social Media Manager to serve two masters with conflicting priorities: Marketing/PR and Customers. The former wants control and the latter wants to know why they should trust Western Digital.

I feel for the person who takes this job, because without changing the job description first, they’re doomed to fail.

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Comments

Hi Ron,

Thought this post was spot on – I think this is a classic example of how some companies believe that the only messages that exist about them are the ones they create – through their Web site, press releases, PR efforts, etc – when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Communication should not be not one way!

The conversations exist about a brand whether they like it or not, so it’s just up to them to determine how they will leverage that dialogue. I think in 2009, the companies that do the best job LISTENING to what is being said about them on social media sites, and THEN effectively participating within the conversation, will be the ones to watch.

Until brands understand that social media is just that – SOCIAL, they will continue to turn people off within these communities by spamming them with PR jargon, written in “accepted editorial style.” (Read: not conversational, personable or sociable at all)

Ginger
November 26, 2008

Hi Ron,

Thought this post was spot on – I think this is a classic example of how some companies believe that the only messages that exist about them are the ones they create – through their Web site, press releases, PR efforts, etc – when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Communication should not be not one way!

The conversations exist about a brand whether they like it or not, so it’s just up to them to determine how they will leverage that dialogue. I think in 2009, the companies that do the best job LISTENING to what is being said about them on social media sites, and THEN effectively participating within the conversation, will be the ones to watch.

Until brands understand that social media is just that – SOCIAL, they will continue to turn people off within these communities by spamming them with PR jargon, written in “accepted editorial style.” (Read: not conversational, personable or sociable at all)

Ginger
November 26, 2008

Perfectly said, Ginger!

ronploof
November 26, 2008

Perfectly said, Ginger!

Ron
November 26, 2008

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