Why You Shouldn't Hire a Social Media Specialist

The demarcation between business divisions are fading and news cycles are shortening, meanwhile 'New Media' takes hold, even in Sub-Saharan Africa. As responsibility falls between departmental cracks #Vegefail, 3M, Telstra FSC, Domino's, Southwest Airlines, and other Social Media car crashes spread like wild fire on and offline.

No-one could predict the explosion in global communications from the first broadcast 100 years ago, it's the evolution of Media in action. It would be naive to think otherwise, and it's also the reason you shouldn't hire a Social Media specialist. Today we need different kind of giants.

"If you always hire people who are bigger than you are, we shall become giants" (Ogilvy).

Social Media is one part of the bigger picture for business... and for most in Australia (still very small). There are pros and cons for hiring and outsourcing for Social Media but shilling out a campaign budget to have someone else take responsibilty is not embracing the medium at all.

Why you shouldn't hire a social media specialist.
1. No-one knows the workings of your business like you do.
2. You can use leading agencies/consultants to develop a best practice Social Media strategy and guidelines.
3. Nobody knows what the next communication leap will be, being 2.0 compatible can only help.
4. Social Media increases the intimacy of customer relationships online.
5. Your employees should be your biggest advocates.
6. Social Media doesn't happen in a vacuum, it's a mirror of the world at large - good business practice is good business practice.

Companies need staff that: embody their brand and can take it to the world, understand marketing, news cycles and writing skills, are advocates of science, adept business analysts, understand law, culture, the arts and psychology. Universities need to provide a progressive education to communications students that empower multi-disciplined engager's, and business needs to demand it.

Hire people with gravitas not just competence.


inspiredworlds said...

Do you mean hiring a social media consultant to work with you (i.e. in a client - agency relationship) or hiring a person who has expertise in social media as an employee in your organisation.

I think you mean the former. That's just like saying you shouldnt hire consultants in general lol. I always thought that org should handle it themselves, but they might not have the expertise, confidence or experience. I agree that they should provide strategy, guidelines and training to employees, and let the business do it themselves.

nextbrett_au said...

Hey Matt.

I meant a variation of the latter. I've noticed increased discussion about business' appointing a dedicated social media specialist who can handle that marketing function.

Sure, you need evangelists who trigger adoption internally and externally but I think the greatest value of Social is the ability to bring employees from the coal-face closer to the end user. How that's done depends entirely on the business (this is where agencies / consultants can assist the greatest) but it's the flow of information that is critical.

Cheers Brett.

Nathan Bush said...

I still think there is a benefit from having a person dedicated to social media development, whether this be internal or external (of course I would!) But one person won't make the difference. Like you said, it has to be carried by everyone throughout the organisation for it to be effective. This is going to mean that those organisations who can change their culture will be the big winners. Nice post.

Karalee_ said...

Brett cracking post.

Completely agree that companies need staff that embody their brand, create the conversations and embrace a culture of openness and engagement within the company (both internally and externally). And, social media can be the catalyst for this.

I do, however, acknowledge Nath's point that social media for an org needs dedicated resources as well as widespread adoption with the employees. At some point, I think there can be a risk of saturation and dissolving of the objective for the company. Thus, where a strategy (and perhaps) external direction could assist.

Leverage the foundations of the gravitas with competence!

Sam said...

Consider other factors, I think that you should really have at least a few social media specialists. They can definitely help promote your business.

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Adrian said...


I'm glad I'm not the only one who advocates caution regarding outsourcing of social media strategy.

In particular the theme that they don't know your business resonates with me. I gave a (somewhat sarcastic) talk on this recently that you might like: How to Hire a Social Media Consultant

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