Just Checking the SM Box?

Social media job postings reflect the current state of adoption, e.g. a social media specialist for a brand marketing luxury items to the affluent; perfect posting until $8/hour.  (When I told my BFF about it she exclaimed, “You can make $8/hour at McDonald’s!”)  Saw another posting for a SEO/SM manager who would also be the web developer & programmer.  I recently spoke to a recruiter about a position who said, “It’s very entry-level.”  Me:  “What does that mean exactly?”  “It pays less than $40K/year.”  I’ve even seen a LinkedIn posting for a commissions only SM position, which shows a lack of understanding of the time it takes to build an audience, following, etc.

It makes me wonder if people are just ‘checking the Social Media Box’ without fully understanding its power?  “Yep, we’ve got Facebook & Twitter too!”  Most SM folks agree that a brand’s social media strategy should represent the brand DNA (core beliefs, competencies, values) and meld branding, customer service, marketing and public relations while engaging and curating an audience.  How much experience in these areas can someone have who’s working for $8/hour?  If someone’s working for $8/hour at our well-known, well-loved national brand with the golden arches whose french fries I love and ticks off a customer, it’s a one person/time thing; unlike tweets that can be read around the world, country, state, county or city, etc.  (Some may say, “Well, the customer in that instance could still tweet about it.”  True; but consumers of fast-food restaurants forgive a lot simply because it’s a fast-food restaurant.  When you read something representing a brand on the Internet, you expect more.)  Do folks understand the role social media play in their various business strategies?  Or is it they don’t view it as a strategy, but rather just something ‘fun’ for their customers or fans?

Is this why a lot of social media people work for agencies rather than individual brands?  You can set it up, create the strategy and then if the brand doesn’t follow through or actually give it the resources it deserves then it’s their bad?  I’m reminded of a small brand who I encouraged a while ago to “Unlock your tweets!”  They’re still sending out locked tweets to eleven followers; not to be rude, but why bother?  As brands migrate to social media platforms, they need to think about what they want to accomplish from a business objective rather than doing it just to do it.  I have a favorite beach spot and would love to do their social media.  They currently have their food manager doing their Facebook on the side.  I’ve tweeted them but never receive a reply because they just tweet out; don’t actually converse with people.  I can envision adding a blog to their website, and really using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in a concerted, defined strategy that would definitely increase business.

So social media folks, I would love to hear your take.  My take is that doing it half-way is akin to piling the family in the car for a nice drive and then asking the 4 yr old to drive.  Do businesses really understand the value that a good social media strategy can bring and the resources that go into doing it well, including monitoring systems, etc?  Or is this strictly Fortune 100 – 500 behavior?  Please share your experiences below!

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