Why I would hire a social media expert

Just a quick one.

I came across this post a couple of weeks ago (and just got round to following it up): http://shankman.com/i-will-never-hire-a-social-media-expert-and-neither-should-you/.

Basically, @petershankman is very much against the “Social Media Expert”. His argument is based upon social media being just one component of a good marketing stratergy – and not so alien or complex as to need a dedicated expert on your payroll:

Social media is just another facet of marketing and customer service. Say it with me. Repeat it until you know it by heart.

While I do see his point of view – and do agree that social media should be considered part of a broader marketing effort (even if it’s the main part) – I think he (and a staggering amount of commenters) have missed the point. It does sound like something a social media expert would say, but…. they don’t get it.

The point is this: social media isn’t just used as a soapbox to shout from. Unlike many other marketing channels, social media makes it incredibly easy to listen.

Let’s compare it to another “facet of marketing”, email campaigns. What do we learn when we send out a marketing email? Maybe we get an inbound lead – if we’re lucky. Then, we learn that the particular prospect who responded really liked our message. However, we’ve learned very little about all those who didn’t. And aren’t they the more important ones to listen to?

True, you could argue that potential customers might email you to tell you about their requirements and expectations and the preconceptions they have about you. I’m sure it happens. Not often, though.

Using social media, on the other hand, one just needs to do a quick search on Twitter and they can see potentially huge numbers of opinions expressed about them. Combine that information with some clever analytics and a marketing organization has a huge amount of usable and very valuable data to hand.

You could still argue: you don’t need an expert to search on Twitter, which is all Peter asserted. True, you don’t, but that’s only the most obvious use of social media outside of the normal scope of marketing channels. What about automating reactive messaging (as lots of big brands now do already)? What about feeding positive trends, being discussed about your competitors, to your R&D team? What about personalizing how a visiter sees a Web site based upon the publically available information about their likes and dislikes (as idio does)?

What if you don’t know how you could use social media to imprive your business stratergy? Well then, I’d say, you need to hire a social media expert.

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