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Conversations on technology for community service providers

Do you Need a Social Media Expert or Not?

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We all know of someone, or some organization who has had wild success with their online marketing and media presence. Tweeting the right thing at just the right moment, showing as many Instagram followers as a minor celebrity, and using their social media to attract and hire a younger and hipper demographic to fill their agencies roster.

What makes the difference between such online successes or failures? Understanding and keeping up with the rise of social media and its increasing importance in today’s work world can be a hugely daunting task, even for those that ARE tech savvy. Discerning the difference between “conversion rate”, “clickbait”, and “clickthrough” rate may not be easy to comprehend for anyone, let alone us helpful feel-good types trying to save the world.

What can we still learn as non-profits about the importance of marketing your online media presence? When do you call in a consultant to tell you what you don’t know? Or how do know when it’s time to hire a dedicated pro?

John Rampton on Open Forum states the following six reasons you will know that it is time to hire a social media manager:

  • When you're neglecting revenue-generating activities to manage your social media accounts (Or client services!)
  • When you don't have the digital marketing knowledge.
  • When you no longer enjoy it.
  • When you're too busy to manage and monitor it consistently.
  • When you're not able to keep up with trends.
  • If you don't know what social media strategy is.

The last three of those reasons may resonate deeply with many under-funded organizations as keeping on top of technology can be very costly.

So you’ve decided you need a consultant, you’ve had it approved by your Board, you have the funding through a grant – and then you read this article: “All Social Media Experts Need to go Die in a Fire”. Peter Shakman – who to be fair, WAS going to call his article the statement above, but then figured he should be nicer than that and changed it to “Why I will Never Hire a Social Media Expert”.

According to Peter Shakman:
Social media is just another facet of marketing and customer service. Say it with me. Repeat it until you know it by heart. Bind it as a sign upon your hands and upon thy gates. Social media, by itself, will not help you. Do you know your audience? Have you reached out to them? I’m not talking about “tweeting at them.” I’m talking about actually reaching out. Asking them what you can do better, or asking those who haven’t been around in a while what you can do to get them back. It’s not about 10 percent off coupons or “contests for the next follower.”

“Being an expert in social media is like being an expert at taking the bread out of the refrigerator. You might be the best bread-taker-outer in the world, but you know what? The goal is to make an amazing sandwich, and you can’t do that if all you’ve done in your life is taken the bread out of the fridge.”

Well he makes some very good points… and especially relevant to non-profits.

So now you take a step back and realize that perhaps you don’t need a social media expert to tell you what to do and to blow your budget. You know you are already making very good “sandwiches” for your clients. Perhaps what you really need is for all the different types of breads that are available to be explained to you first.

Topics: Social Media non-profit