“Who’s got the most Facebook friends? You? OK, good. You are managing our social media.”

It is common knowledge that every business needs to be a technology company of sorts. In this online era, thinking digitally is an imperative and not an option. While organisations big and small are understanding the digital space more and more, it’s confounding to discover that sometimes this doesn’t match up with the hiring of staff to manage this critical function. As a social media and digital strategist, I’ve come across two mistakes that might indicate that social media and digital is still an afterthought in practice.

Most organisations should have a strategy to integrate digital and social with CRM (Customer Relationship Management).  Keep in mind that your digital and social interfaces are often the first port of call, and a continuing format for customers past, present and future in engaging with your product, service and brand. And remember, it’s customer RELATIONSHIP management.

Mistake #1: Choosing the least social person to manage your social media

It’s called social media, and the first word should be your crucial guide. So why would you put the least social person or the most socially awkward one in the role?

I remember working with a client in the US who had a vast database/customer base. They brought us in to do a two-day intensive with their marketing team. The first question I asked was who their social media person was. A hand went up at the back of the room, the girl who had hardly even pulled up to the table. All eyes turned to this sweet young girl who was, of course, horrified that the room had looked at her. I asked her, ‘what social media platforms are you on?’

Her answer, “Facebook and I have it to stay in touch with my family. I don’t have any friends on there.’ My next question, “How many hours a day are you on your social media?’ Her response, ‘A day? Hardly at all. I go on when I have to post something for work, and that’s about it. Maybe 2 hours per week.’ A week.

I asked her if this role came naturally to her and whether she like engaging with people in this way. How often, during her 2 hours per week, did she communicate with people using social media and by that, I mean responding to people, reaching out to them and commenting. With all the boldness this girl could muster she told me (and the rest of the table) that she hated this part of her job, that it didn’t come naturally and that it was a considerable burden.

On the other end of the scale, you may find someone who spends ALL their time on social media. However, offline, they have little social and communication skills. They aren’t good at relationships. Social engagement is all about knowledge of how people communicate and want to be communicated with. It’s about a relationship. So perhaps look towards someone who is social in person and enjoys it. Moreover, someone who is a good communicator.

Mistake #2: Choosing the cheapest/youngest staff/trainee to manage your social media.

This one makes me crazy. We’ve all heard it said, ‘pay peanuts and you get monkeys’. Digital certainly isn’t a role that you want someone who may or may not be taking the role seriously. OR someone who may be spending most of the hours you pay them for, scouring the net for better-paying jobs. Your social and digital presence is often the first point of entry for your customers. This is a massive responsibility for a trainee or junior staff. Something I would suggest, maybe in the wrong hands.

Imagine if you needed life-saving surgery and as you lay on the operating table filled with meds and about to inhale the anaesthetic, the surgeon shows up, but instead of the seasoned surgeon, you are greeted by an overzealous trainee. Would you leave your life in their hands?I’m not denigrating the ability of staff who are young and eager. We are generally tempted to give them the social media role because they grew up in it, and it is an integral part of their lives if you’ve found talented people based on this, then good for you.

However, as organisations, we have to ask ourselves why we are leaving the most public-facing engagement space to trainees or young or cheap staff. The reality is that you spend time, money and resources on what you value. Making this mistake may speak volumes.Digital and social media is layered with customer engagement, data science and artful protocol. It requires a depth of knowledge that goes beyond knowing the popularity of certain YouTubers, time spent “grinding the Gram”, or having excellent Snapchat skills.

So what should I do?

You are reading this and may have made one or both of these mistakes, but say “I don’t have the budget to pay for a full time experienced staff in social media and digital role.” My answer? Have you thought of outsourcing to a digital and social agency? Where for the cost of one full-time staff, you get the expertise and commitment of an experienced team, who take the time to understand you and execute seamlessly, who are “embedded” into your organisation.

If we embed within our organisation what is the legacy?

I was asked this question recently. It’s a great one. If we bring SOMO Society into our organisation how do we sustain the work you do, what you create, build and grow when you’re gone?

We have solved this in an excellent way and let me be very specific about this. For the sake of this article, I’m going to focus on two particular organisations. Company A is a for-profit Australia based organisation. Company B is a not-for-profit that plays mainly on the global field. We worked closely with their marketing teams, and in Company A’s case, we revamped their entire marketing team.

Company A had a team in place and when we joined we quickly realised it was a case of the wrong people in the wrong roles. Here’s what’s interesting, we didn’t need to launch a lengthy search through job ads, trying to find the right person. The person was already in the organisation but the wrong role. I suggested that they should move that person and put him/her under our leadership. They would work with us, and we would teach and train them to a point where we are no longer needed on a daily basis. As I’m writing this, we remain in a consultancy role for support. As a result, this proved to be so successful, that when asked this question I used this example and said, ‘this person is so good, we would hire him/her for SOMO Society in a heartbeat.’

Company B asked us to come in and mentor/train their existing person in the digital marketing role. We worked closely with their staff member and again are at a point whereby we would hire this person in an instant if the opportunity were to present itself. We haven’t hired them, but instead the purpose was to get get them to a place where they could run the digital space through our embedded approach. My point is, the young padawans (sorry, couldn’t resist) are, in our opinion, some of the best digital people we’ve seen. We need to embrace this younger workforce, the digital natives as they are called. We need to recognize them for their natural ability to engage with people, because they have been taught the mechanics of the digital space and are now owning it.

I remember my late father telling me always to leave a place better than you found it.

It is that wisdom that SOMO Society embeds within an organisation. We work closely with the team and management to help develop their brand in the digital space. Rather than just focusing on numbers, we want to generate real, meaningful engagement. Because at the end of every number is a person and in this game and any other, people matter. This is the legacy we leave.