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The outsourced and in-house Social Media administrator

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25 September 2009

Since fellow RAAKonteur Wessel wrote his post about PR, advertising and the new roles in communication, and David Meerman Scott’s penned his thought-provoking Is it time for companies to hire a Social Media Administrator, we can now officially add social media administrating to the list of services we offer.

And not just in one way. In two.

In a previous life, we built a website, blog and e-commerce solution for WHERE, a new and exciting (ethical) fashion brand. And last week they asked us to advice them on an ongoing basis on how to use the right social media tools.

Good on them. Good for us.

So now we make sure they have access to the right tools, use them well and that their website is in great SEO shape. We also double-check their blog posts and tweets if needed. And listen for them. That all makes it easy for them to be up-to-date, found and be part of the conversation.

But as with most new things, it was a particularly interesting exercise in how to quantify this service, a problem that was also mentioned in Jason Falls’ very decent blogpost about the culture clash between Social Media and Ad agencies and in Jay Bear‘s comments on that post.

It’s not that straightforward to bill or staff for.

Because Social Media is about knowing the brand through-and-through-and-through. And through.

And, ideally, about being part of a brand 24/7, because your crowd doesn’t stop talking about you. Which means that even reacting quickly to a crisis can be a bit late – as Domino’s Pizza recently discovered.

Thirdly, it works best when you have the power to make day-to-day decisions without having to go through layers of sign-off procedures.

Based on those thoughts, I can see two models working:
1. A retainer model (we prefer to call it the ‘plug-in‘ model) where you’re really close to the brand (or the organisation) and you guide them on a day-to-day basis. This is more suitable for small to medium-sized companies, who can’t afford to hire a full-time person and trust you to do what is needed.
Will this be easily scalable when the brand becomes bigger? Possibly not. Option 2 might then make more sense.

2. A training model, which aims not only at consulting, but also at teaching key people at various levels. Those key people could be CEO’s as well as Brand & Product Managers. It could be someone from the Marketing department, a customer service rep or even a developer. Anyone who’s into and understands the medium and is keen to take on the role of ‘Social Media Administrator’.

Importantly, this training course should not only be on a strategic level, because Social Media is about ‘doing’ it. In other words, how you write a blogpost, what keywords you use, how to craft a Tweet, how to produce good audio for video. The list goes on.

For now, we use option 1 for WHERE. And we’re currently developing option 2 into a workshop about ‘Social Media in PR’, about which we’ll write some more soon.

Exciting times! And we’ll see if these options still stand in a year’s time. Or even in a few months.

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  • Posted by Carlo Abadilla
    February 28, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Sooner or later I think that each company will be needing Social media administrators. This job could be an essential role since an SM administrator could somehow monitor the trends when it comes to topics and discussions on forums and other blogs

  • Posted by Gerrie Smits
    March 1, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the comment.
    I agree with you. In an ideal world, each company has an SM administrator to make this kind of communication authentic.
    I can also see a system where their trusted PR company takes on the role of SM administrator.
    That’s why I think that, if you position yourself as a ‘soclal media agency’, your role is to make yourself redundant.

  • Posted by Maisie Marshall
    June 10, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    There is a rapid growth of Outsorcing these days as manufactures try to cut cost and maximize profit.:~*

  • Posted by 120mm fan
    December 20, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    well, outsourcing can actually save any company several million dollars because of cheap labor “‘.

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