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Marshaling the Resources for a Social Media Engagement Program

May 31, 2011 By Monique Elwell and Steven Jackson
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The following is an excerpt from the just released, in-depth report “Social Media Success: Best practices for creating, implementing and managing social media marketing strategies, plus 7 multidisciplinary case studies” from DirectMarketingIQ.

What sort of resources do you need to run your social media program? The answer greatly depends on your first decision—to hire or outsource. If you chose the former, you will need to hire one or more people to build and manage the social media communities on a daily or even an hourly basis. The size of your department depends on the size of your brand, the level of discussion that is already taking place in the social mediasphere (it’s very likely that even if your business is not yet engaged in social media, at least many of your clients and prospects are, and they are already talking about your brand) and your organization’s commitment to speaking directly with your target audience.

Like anything else, good social media marketing results stem from a good strategy and planning. The first hire needs to be a social media strategist. This role is less about technology—though some familiarity here is important—and more about the ability to understand how to create emotional engagement in the social space and how people adopt technologies.

The strategist also needs experience in branding, messaging and customer service. What you say and how you say it are just as important as what venues you say it on. The critical part of this role is the ability to nuance or translate communications appropriately into the appropriate social media outlets to create and stimulate conversation, engagement and emotional brand attachment. Some of this may look like traditional marketing, but it’s different due to the real-time aspect. This makes it important that the strategist brings experience in creating and managing the communication.
On the technical side, the social media strategist will need to be aware of the various social media tools and channels as they are emerging (GetGlue, is an example of a new tool), when they hit mass-adoption (Facebook), and when they are waning (MySpace). Assume roughly 10 percent to 20 percent of the time will be spent researching and understanding existing and new tools, and the ways people are adopting this technology.

Then you’ll also need to hire people to run the sites on a day-to-day basis. Their activities fall largely into these buckets:
 

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