I was reading a post by Mike McGrail (of Velocity Digital) titled “Social Media – Stop Thinking Tech & Start Thinking Why!“
It struck me that after all this time a professional like Mike still sees the need to write a post like that.
Point of the matter is that by now we know better. We know that without proper goals one is just poring time and money down the drain.
Not to mention the frustrations that go along with an inevitable failure.
At some point some manager will want to know if the whole endeavour is worth it, if there is a ROI. And the person in charge might only be able to show a graph of the number of Likes the Facebook page has, or how many Retweets (if any).
And if that same manager has been reading up on social media he or she will know, by now, that these are not key performance indicators.
Then, like with any other failed process there comes a time to clean up.
This is where the Interim Social Media Consultant comes in (I just made that up, but it sounds good and really plausible).
“So what does a ISMC do?”, I hear you ask.
“Good question”, I say.
There is a difference between a ‘normal’ consultant and an ISMC.
Because, with any luck, a normal consultant starts out with a clean slate. A pristine environment where an enlightened manager gives you free reign on how to set-up their SoMe.
I know, this never happens, we do not live in an Utopia. Although, if you ever encountered a situation like that, tell us about it in the comments, please?
Anyway, the difference between a situation where a client is enthusiastically looking for something new and a client that is looking for someone to clean up the mess can be quite striking.
And it will take a different, more ad-hoc approach to get things done.
For instance, the manager hiring you is quite likely frustrated through the lack of (real) results from his team. She also, probably, has to answer to somebody higher up. Making results an urgent matter.
And we know that results take time. Building significant relationships take time.
The Appointed Social Media Person
In many cases somebody is made to volunteer for ‘doing’ SoMe. Preferably somebody young, because they understand all this modern stuff. Or an intern, the cheapest we can find.
Or, if we’re lucky, somebody who is really trying, reasonable dedicated, but no expert.
In any case, here too you might find a lot of frustration. The ISMC will be in a position where they need to explain what went wrong and bring this person (or multiple persons, depending on the size) really fast up to speed.
No, multi-week training schedule here.
With social business, and a more open and respectful structure, we hope to limit the amount of politics, but until then it is something you have to be very sensitive about.
In a situation where things have gone wrong even more so.
Neutrality is very important, but you also have to make a stand. There is a right way of doing things and the ISMC has to find the balance between all involved to get things done.
The bigger the company, the bigger the investment done, the more politics are involved.
And somebody might be looking for a scapegoat.
A New Breed
In many different disciplines the Interim Manager is a common appearance. For the financials, the human resources, the IT processes, the customer care. All have their experts in cleaning up.
This is because most departments, where things can get messy, have been around for quite some time.
People have come up and grown out of these departments, and now they use their expertise to troubleshoot and get things back on track.
The discipline of Social Media has not been around long enough for people to already have grown out of it. Many are still learning, and with the current rate of change, we probably always will be learning.
So, it’s the “before” experience that counts, the seniority if you will. Combining years of working in different environments with the (relatively) fresh SoMe learnings.