For far too long, many advertising tactical groups only played in their own categorical silos of search, display, email, affiliate, social, DSP, and SEO. As new technologies came out, some first movers would delegate that responsibility to the person or department best equipped to handle new marketing channels.
But who is best equipped to manage your social campaigns?
Let's first take a look at some historical perspective on other ad channels:
Ten years ago, site targeting was the hot new tool released by Google, allowing marketers to bid on display ads on the Google Content Network (now Google Display Network). This raised a question of which department should handle biddable display inventory within Google. The search team has the experience with bidding on Google, but no experience in display, while the inverse was true of the search network for display marketers.
Six years ago, Facebook gave advertisers the ability to start marketing their products on the social media giant. Facebook soon launched a biddable marketplace and insertion order-based media options for marketers that blurred the lines between the traditional display marketers, who traditionally buy on an IO basis, and those search marketers who traditionally only look at biddable media. Depending on the product or service, goals, and objectives, a brand or agency might look to the search team for biddable media or to the display team for those IO buys.
Three to four years ago, this was the hot topic among marketers, and some believed ad exchanges would fundamentally change the way they bought media (I still think we are going in this direction). Even though the exchanges offered biddable inventory to drive retargeting and performance campaigns, very much in the wheelhouse of a search marketer, the vast majority of buys were done on a full service basis. Very few could actually bid on this inventory outside of the exchanges or the DSP providers that offered connections into them. Marketers would see the exchange buys as just another line item on their media plan between their network and affiliate buys. This is something one would expect from the wheelhouse of a display or affiliate marketer.
In the last couple of years, social media marketing and management gained traction as advertisers started making larger investments into paid social advertising, social content management, community management, and app development. Earned media took center stage. The caveat is titles like "social manager" vary tremendously from one company to the next, and the KPIs differ if they have been defined at all. A social media manager could be managing the published content on a brand's Facebook or Twitter page, act as a social media buyer, or just work in analyzing social media's impact on the bottom line.
So, who should manage your social campaigns?
Advertisers give different levels of attention to their social grid and their overall strategy due to general naiveté or a lack of understanding of the best practices of social media marketing. Moreover, beyond the truism that "it depends on the advertiser's goals and objectives," I would append that it also depends what the advertiser has done to date. An advertiser still in the nascent stages might want to look for people that have some experience in managing content and knowing how to amplify that through paid media. Looking at measuring "likes" and fans is typically a standard first step for many brands, while others focus on a direct response approach.
Seasoned social advertisers might look to incorporate Facebook applications and all their social media factions on top of their other nonsocial online channels (e.g., display, search, email, and affiliate). Looking holistically at the entire marketing mix requires skill in understanding attribution, tag management, and analytics. This approach will require a more tech savvy "social manager" who has the skills for not only cutting-edge campaigns, but also app development and social attribution.
The boundary lines of social media are blurred, so instead of identifying roles best suited to manage social, it is best to focus on character traits. Look for people who:
- Ask questions
- Challenge the status quo
- Get excited about what they do
- Stay up late thinking about the latest in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest
- Love to "geek out" and try to push the limits of what is possible
Thomas Moyer is a product manager for Optimal.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
Image via iStock Photo.