It has been a few years now since marketing departments jumped onto social media and scrambled to develop a interactive brand presence.
Commonly referred to as a “Community Manager,” the person-in-charge of the efforts has varied widely between companies and over time. I see the evolution path like this:
1. The Social Media Intern: Find a college student with some extra time, and have them set up a Facebook page for your company.
2. The Social Media Specialist: Hire on a recent grad to update your Facebook and Twitter.
3. Community Management Agency: Make sure your brand reputation is protected online by hiring a professional “Social Network Management” group.
4. The Community Manager: A mid-level employee with experience in interaction, manages daily brand presence on social networks, and researches the next social innovation.
5. The Online Content Director: An experienced copy writer or content strategist executes a top-level content plan covering the brand’s entire online strategy.
6. The Digital Curator: New this year, a specialist sweeps all the brand assets to select only the most optimized online content.
Where are we moving to next?
I call it “Communal Content Management.” In fact, I believe we’ve already moved there.
This approach is based on the belief that a brand can not be represented completely without the entire brand community behind it.
It gets a little existential, I know. Think of it as: it takes a village to raise a brand.
We’ve seen time and time again, when a big company leaves all their social media decisions to one inexperienced person, PR disasters abound. Although these disasters have still occurred when an entire team is working on it.
There is no anonymity in social: the public will demand reparations from the top. Brand managers and executives are put in jeopardy as they try to save face. I would think the person responsible for cleaning up the mess would also want to oversee the daily management.
Updating online content may comprise only one person’s job, but it should be everyone’s responsibility.
If you take this “Communal Management” idea all the way, it means everyone in the company has a part to play in the online brand presence. That’s right— the janitor has a valid experience to share; as do the accountants, designers, clients, community members, and everyone else interacting with the brand.
It also means that executives need to set their company up for “content success.” Easily done: the more specific your overall brand strategy, the easier content curation is.
What I’ve presented here is a little utopian. Communal Content Management is not far beyond companies’ reach though. Start with two steps:
- Keep content in mind while you refine your brand strategy
- Disseminate community management responsibility
I believe this will lead to the most true brand representation, both online and in all marketing communications.