Everybody’s talking about social media rock stars. I’d rather be known as a social media Maytag repair man. Here’s why:

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Everybody’s talking about social media rock stars. I’d rather be known as a social media Maytag repair man.

Ok. So that pop culture reference may date me but I don’t care. Here’s why: You’ve watched “Behind the Music” on VH1. You know what happened to Elvis, Kurt Cobain, Charlie Sheen. Well, maybe not Sheen yet, but – most of us know what happens to folks that live the life of a rock star.

Bright stars tend to burn out faster. Sure, maybe there’s some fun to be had on the front end. Tech companies, after all (we know from George Clooney in “Up in the Air”) throw great parties. And why not? Life is short and work is hard. There’s nothing wrong with a little fun, right? I guess not. The problem comes because wisdom rarely factors in.

Social media, like any media, often requires much in the way of wisdom. When you’re working with real clients who have real investments at stake, taking a devil-may-care approach is not the best way. Sure, rock stars can charge in, be bold, and encourage others to “join the party” but where do they go after that? Social media, after all, is probably the best thing to happen to customer service since the desk bell.

Is it the rock star that is going to help you ascertain how to solve serious service and brand issues at the end of the day? Will a rock star say, “no, you don’t need to be in that space?” Or are your customers being left in the hands of well meaning yet decidedly inexperienced social media proxies in the form of outsourced Hootsuite powered interns?

Think about it. If you were hiring someone to build and repair something else you use every day – say your washing machine – would you rather entrust it to Russell Brand in “Get him to the Greek” or the good people on the front lines of your business who know your customers, know your industry, and have genuine expertise to deliver?

When you are considering how best to move your business in a more “social media friendly” way, please, please, PLEASE take a moment before hiring that consultant or staffing that brand new position to think about that Maytag repair man, sitting on his duff because the product he supports was made to last.

Get training for your existing staff to facilitate folding social media seamlessly into your existing culture. Be wary of anyone offering amazing results and promising minimal effort.

Got questions about how to hire that consultant? Let me know. I’ll work with you for free for two hours to help you determine what you need and don’t need.

Staffing a brand new position and have no idea what to ask for in a candidate? I can help you write a job description and give some best practices concerning what to look for. Here’s a hint, it may not always be “more than 10k Twitter followers.” In social media spaces, it is the strength of the connections that matter, not the volume.

The last thing I would highlight is that social media takes more on the back end for success than on the front. Reporting out on the success of a call to action is much more important than falsely inflating your fans and followers or using gimmicks to get comments or click-throughs. The less your community is aware of how you track the efficacy of your involvement, the more at home they will feel.

Give good, genuine service consistently and you won’t need a “rock star” to bring everybody to the party. Build good systems and you won’t even need a “repair man” if something goes wrong.

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