A Word on Community Managers…
We were recently invited to a private event in Newport, RI by Conde Nast to speak to a select group of CEOs, who have audience targets in the high household income realm, about social media. Not only was it absolutely fabulous (the photo below is the beach cottage we stayed in- sicknasty), but it inspired me to write this post.
Out of that entire group of people, only one CEO seemed to really get digital media. The truth is that these brands represented a microcosm of the luxury industry at large, the more brands I meet, the more I realize how misguided and behind they are not only in terms of social, but in digital marketing in general. Social media is the voice of your brand. The analogy I use a lot is making social media analogous with a press conference, would you have a PR assistant or an intern get up and speak on behalf of your brand at a press conference? The answer is no. So why do most brands relegate social media community management to the likes of interns or PR assistants? Or throw it on the plate of someone who already has a full time job within the brand? These are HUGE mistakes. There are exceptions to this of course, the “legendary” social media brands winning awards & doing it right. The truth is that they are just using the tools correctly, not doing anything mind-blowing with them. Yet they are heralded as experts because everyone else is SO far behind and it’s embarrassing because it’s really not that hard. It’s ego & fear, pure & & simple. Simply put, it’s all about community managers. They should be among the most highly paid people in your organization. Let that sink in a moment. Now, that does not mean that this person should become the outward face of your brand. In fact, I strongly disagree with putting a face to your brand unless your brand has a face already and it’s integral to your brand message. Ever think of what Oscar de la Renta will do if they lose Erika Bearman? They would be completely fucked. She is Oscar PR Girl and her face is everywhere. Most of their posts are photos of her in a mirror, it’s almost like she is a personal style blogger.
That is why DKNY has played it really smart, if they need to slot someone different into that role, they can. She has a hell of a challenge filling those stilettos, but the persona allows for it 100%. I would also love to take a moment to discuss this “PR Girl” thing brands are doing. First of all DKNY was the first one to do this- everyone else nicked that idea. Secondly, unless you have a supremely dedicated PR director that has the ability to run your PR- which is a FULL time job- and be able to manage your social media- which is also a FULL time job- do not put this on your head of PR. These two women are exceptional and are not the norm, nor should they be. A community manager needs to live and breathe your brand and allowed access to every single little nook and cranny, they can accomplish this without being in your PR department. They need to be given an allowance to spend freely, be given a wardrobe stipend and a clear strategy as to what living your brand persona is all about. They need to live the lifestyle your brand has created all these years through analog mediums. Instead of a static photograph in a magazine or a singular video for a commercial, you have a living breathing medium that brands insist on trafficking the same assets to as before. If you don’t have a brand persona, get one. Post haste. Before you even start TALKING about hiring a community manager, you have to know who you are as a brand. Further more, if you are still in the mindset that every tweet needs to be approved by anyone other than your community manager, do not pass Go and do not collect $200. You are in the stone age and aren’t ready for social media. Additionally, don’t bother to hire a CM if you don’t have the resources to build a community large enough to justify the investment of that hire. If you don’t know how to build a community faster than you are organically, you need to hire me. You need awareness marketing. That is the beginning of all paths to conversion, but that is another blog post.