Social Media is a Team Sport, Not a Solo Act


blog-2-photo3As someone who spends the better part of his days – and nights, too – either reading about, talking about or working with social media, I can speak from experience when I say that as much fun as it is to spend so much time on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other such online communications platforms, to make that time pay off is no easy task.


It’s true. Given the cacophony of content that’s being disseminated across the social web these days, anyone on the front line of their brand’s social media efforts knows they have their work cut out for them if they expect to command attention, engage constituents and win friends, fans and followers.


Not only does a social media practitioner need to be on call practically 24/7 (see what I wrote about being “Sleepless in Social Media” here), but if you’re the go-to guy or gal, you’re only as successful as you are proficient in writing, publishing, PR, advertising, marketing, customer service, web design and development, SEO, web analytics, project management and, well, I think you get the picture.


No one individual can possibly be an expert in all of the areas above, which is why – ideally – no one individual should be carrying the social media workload alone.


Of course, in many cases there’s no choice but to make social media a solo act (due to budget constraints, talent scarcity or the fact that you’re a company of one). If that’s the situation you find yourself in, I would concentrate on writing and producing quality content, PR, marketing and customer service, putting the other stuff off till you have the necessary bandwidth.


Sure, there are many independent personalities who manage to stand out among the social media clutter, people who live and breathe the brands they represent and are able to articulate and position themselves so well that their constituents will gladly fall in line.


They are the affable, authentic corporate all-stars referred to in the Edelman Digital white paper, “Five Digital Trends to Watch for 2009,” everyday employees whose social media usage – even if it is for their own personal branding – helps their respective organizations earn loyalty, support and, yes, new business.   


They are the front men and women referred to in a recent post by Arthur Germain (“Does your brand have a frontman?”), the corporate personalities who go a long way toward humanizing the brand, people who are as energetic as they are authoritative, those who actually revel in being in front of an audience and who are looked up to as the real deal.


When all is said and done, however, social media really is a team sport, not a solo act. There is just no way one individual can be the Jack – or Jane – of all the different trades it takes to be successful on the grid, at least not consistently over the course of a long period of time. An exceptional writer with a strong body of knowledge, a charismatic personality and a boatload of enthusiasm can make a huge social splash – don’t get me wrong. But to sustain an effective strategy for an indefinite period of time requires the input and output of a collaborative, cross-functional group, a small team of people with complementary skills who can tag-team the initiative.


Yes, even if he or she is the CEO, you really don’t want to depend on just one person for your social media activity.  As Greg Wood writes in this recent post (“Don’t leave social media to one person”) of his… 


“Making one person a core element of a brand is very risky. It can be powerful, yes. People love to connect with other people, especially those they admire. But what happens when the person falters, has health problems, dies, retires, acts like a jerk, or screws up?”


The fact is that the more successful you are in social media, the more you’re going to need a full complement of professionals working the beat – listening, responding, engaging, creating, strategizing, scheduling, measuring, you name it. You’re going to realize that there may be differences between social media and other business communications channels, but something they all have in common is that they’re better done as a team.  


Bob Cargill is a copywriter, creative director and social media marketing consultant who helps brands (both commercial and non-profit) to strategize, develop and implement successful new marketing programs. He is available for hire on a part-time, temporary, freelance, project or contract basis. To contact Bob now, click here.
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3 thoughts on “Social Media is a Team Sport, Not a Solo Act

  • Bob – My take is that over time roles in social media will expand to cover some of the sub-specialties. A client of mine is the social media manager for a software company. He is the one and only person at the company that has anything to do with social media. Over lunch, he complained that even though he has full support from the CEO, he just can’t get everything done that should be done. Most of his job is spent educating internal resources on what social media is and what it can do and the rest is spent maintaining relationships with influential bloggers and industry press. In his spare time, he Tweets and Facebooks. He’s frustrated because he knows he can be much more successful

    Success in social media comes down to two driving factors, people and content. It is a time intensive task to establish and maintain thousands in not hundred of thousands relationships. Content needs to be fresh, frequent, and digestible. Think 30 quality but inexpensive one minute videos versus one 30 second spot. To make that happen it requires all the titles Bob lists in the post and probably a few more.

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