// what do you think?


How to Manage an Overzealous Manager when Running Social Media

It amazes me that, to this day, I run into employees/agencies still trying to convince their managers/clients that they need to be doing social media. (Really? Still?)

A more common problem that I run in to (and one I’m more than happy to help with) is that management is on board with social media and  is relying on them to put together a plan, but they’re not sure where to start and often over worked as it is.

And finally, the one that I sympathize with because I’ve been there over and over again is that their manager is pushing a social media plan or tactic that the employee is not  comfortable with.  The discomfort is felt when either it’s not the right plan for the strategy (if there even is one) or worse it’s boarder line unethical.

There are plenty of people talking/blogging about points one and two. I’ve even covered these topics before and they are probably worth addressing again, but not right now.

Right now I want to help those growing number of people that are dealing with the last point. Why? As more and more companies enter the social media space, more and more managers, with the best of intentions, will push misguided efforts.

First off we have to help you identify a misguided efforts. I must tell you at this point that if you are not active in social media, at least from the point where you’re reading blogs and books on the topic you’ll have a hard time answering these questions.  Of course if that’s the case then you aren’t reading this blog anyway, so we’ll move on.

Ask yourself:

  • Are we doing this to copy a competitor or because it aligns with our customers?
  • Does this make logical sense when we step back and take off our marketing hat.
  • Does this feel right?
  • Is this transparent?
  • Is this honest?
  • Is it real?
  • Will this achieve the goals management is expecting (and that you’re likely being measured on)?

If you can’t answer all of those questions with a yes, then you have a potential problem. If you answer no to any of those questions you need to go do some research. You need some case studies, examples or at the least some good blog posts explaining why said tactic is wrong.

Don’t go back to management and just tell them you can’t do it, tell them why and offer an alternative.

Where do you go to get these answers? This is where being active in social media pays off.  Ask your Twitter followers. Ask a question on FriendFeed, LinkedIn or Facebook. I’ve done all of these and they all work great. You don’t have to give specifics or violate any company sharing policies but ask in generalities about the topic.

Now that you’ve armed yourself with reams of data showing why this is a bad idea, you need to make a convincing presentation not about what not to do and why, but what you should be doing and why. In your backup slides put your arguments why the other plan won’t work, but first try selling management on a better idea before you tell them their baby’s ugly. Leading off with a positive approach is always better received than starting off with a negative.

What if you present your case and no one listens? What if they still want to do the wrong thing? If it’s just strategically wrong, there’s only so hard you can push. If it’s ethically wrong you need to make a choice, and it can be a damn hard one to make. Ask yourself and then ask your management:

Are you willing to ruin your reputation and the reputation of the company over this?

Don’t be afraid to phrase this to your management like that. I have and it worked.

What if you don’t come up with a good reason why not to do something? What if it’s not unethical, devious or even wrong? It just doesn’t *feel* right. You need to ask yourself why are you uneasy with it? I’ve usually found that it’s because of one of three reasons:

  1. You’re not comfortable with how to pull it off
  2. You’re afraid that the tactic won’t deliver the ROI management is after
  3. You’re concerned about the motives behind the request

#1 fortunately there’s a relatively easy solution for this one. Get some help. Either through an agency, consultants, books and blogs or maybe there’s someone in your organization that has more experience than you. I can tell you that I worked on more social media campaigns while at HP for other department than I did my own.

#2 If management is hell bent on doing something you know won’t deliver the results then try to temper expectations and move forward with it. This can be a scary proposition because no one want to be the sacrificial lamb. Cover your bases, document the process and always map back to what outcomes you’re driving and do what you can to pull it off.

#3 Why is management so determined to do marketing tactics even when everyone thinks it’s wrong? I’ve often found it’s because of ego.

I worked for a manager with a company blog who wanted to blog more frequently. The easy solution was to open the blog up as a group blog and get some regular internal contributors.  He wouldn’t go for this. The compromise we eventually came up with (instead of ghost blogging) was to get internal guest posters. He insisted that each post have an intro written by him. This caused extra delays in posting and extra work on the teams part to coordinate. Yeah we were playing to his ego, but it’s his blog, his budget and he could do what he wanted.

Knowing when to trust your manager

Finally I’d like to address the hardest lesson for me to learn. Sometimes, your manager, who has no experience with social media, is going to be right and you’re going to be wrong. <cough><cough>

Your manager is *probably* a pretty smart person. They *probably* (hopefully) have a better understanding of the overall business than you do. They *probably* have years more general marketing experience than you do. They *probably* got to be where they are for a good reason. At some point you may have to trust them to make the call. And I have found, more often than not, things turn out alright. They could have probably turned out better (at least we  think so) but things turned out okay and everyone had more experience the next time around.

If you do your homework, things will rarely turn out as bad as people sometimes imagine.  We love to focus on the social media disasters. In reality there are far more examples of successes (small and big) out there than failures. Don’t let the bloggers and consultants preaching FUD get to you. Not every effort will be a home-run, but very few will be a disaster.

This post is an Updated Post. An Updated Post is where I take an older post and update it based on current thinking or examples. The original post can be found here: Managements Misguided Social Media Efforts

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • http://realurl.org/twitted.php?id=7213180484 Twitted by tacanderson

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  • http://twittermaven.blogspot.com warrenss

    Sage advice, my friend. Much better that any book that I've recently read. Have a very Happy New Year!

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Thanks Warren. It's probably because my post is born from first hand experience not anecdotal evidence and interviews :)

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