Why social media needs a senior brain

Social media is a young media. It’s an ever-growing piece of marketing budgets everywhere. It’s also a medium that takes a lot of resources to support. Many marketers first engage in social thinking it’s inexpensive—only to discover that the cost of entry doesn’t take into account the constant monitoring and engagement needed to truly do social right.

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Once down the path, marketers often scramble for resources to accommodate the demands of social. The trend we’ve been seeing lately is the turn to inexpensive college kids, recent grads and interns to oversee a company’s social media strategy as well as its execution. After all, young kids today know more about this “social stuff” than the older crowd, right? They’re the ones tied to their smart phones every waking moment, posting what cereal they had for breakfast. Many marketers think, “I’ll just let them do it!”

While the younger generation is definitely more comfortable with technology, especially new technology, don’t mistake young people’s energy and zeal in this arena for marketing savvy. At the end of the day, they can be great at monitoring and executing social, but the strategy behind social media still needs to come from a seasoned marketer.

Like any marketing communications undertaking, marketers need to have a firm understanding of their business objectives. Only by recognizing objectives can marketers comprehend how a social media strategy feeds into the bigger scheme of things for their brand. The only person who has that high-level vision is the marketer and only marketers can determine where their “social home base” is, and start developing the plan. From there, marketers can use research and listening tools to figure out who their target audience is, where that audience is, what content resonates with it, and when the audience wants that content. The good news is there are many social media tools available to the seasoned marketer that can help with management to ensure the correct and efficient implementation of social media.

Only after a strategic social media plan has been established should marketers put a college kid or recent grad to the task of managing social media for a brand. It’s also critical to ensure that young social media managers have an understanding of the brand, the content that resonates with its target audience, how often the brand should be posting, as well as when to post, how to monitor and engage in the conversation, and on which platforms to focus time. Senior marketers can make this easy by providing a daily “to do” list based on the social media strategy. This is the only way marketers can rest assured that social media in the hands of a rookie is not running off the reservation, but working in tandem with their overall objectives.

Social media has the potential to drain your resources, so it’s crucial to ensure that your resources are providing a return. Leverage the energy and fresh thinking of the younger generation, but make sure the people you tap are on board with your thoughtful, smart strategy. Young professionals have a lot of potential and value to offer. Take this opportunity to mentor college-age interns or recent grads and you will likely help shape an emerging professional, as well as the success of your social media program.

Flora Caputo is executive creative director at Jacobs Agency

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