For Brill, the social manager's task is largely about building, maintaining and managing an online 'editorial calendar', acting like a kind of ‘party host’, encouraging online conversations and making sure people connect with one another. She explains that as an online host, the social media manager facilitates the introductions and sparks conversations; he/she picks the topics and adjusts those choices according to how the conversation goes. The social media manager is there on the spot to respond to the needs of the market conversation.
According to Brill, effective social managers pick the one, two, three or five specific online tools and channels deemed to effectively reach the target audience, and they develop a strategy to maximize effectiveness.
Brill: I think that web sites over the next twelve months are going to change. You are going to see a site (that) feels more like a community verses just a web site. Where a company exists is going to (be) beyond just their domain (website).
O’Neill: Is there a lot of hype around the idea of inbound marketing and social media marketing? You still have to have sales reps out there making the connections, making the sales, writing up the orders. How much of this social media is perhaps overreaching? Are we taking too much stock in the idea that we can encourage customers to come to us just by being present on the web and at these different social media sites?
Brill: This is why I think you do need a dedicated “community manager”, because it's not just expecting them to come to us. Just like any other marketing campaign, I think you really do need to have a strategy, it's not just a matter of saying “oh, excuse me, because we've enabled comments or because we're on Twitter…they’re just going to come”.
I think just like any other marketing campaign you know you've got to have a dedicated person who's growing that strategy. The community manager’s role becomes a lot more building and maintaining and managing an editorial calendar, and they are basically like the “party host”, and constantly making sure that conversations are happening and people are connecting with other people and they're doing the introductions and they're starting the conversations. Without that community manager…you don't actually have social media, you don't actually have a community or a campaign. It's not just the (social media marketing) tools; it’s the strategy behind how you use that technology.
O’Neill: And the quality of that manager is obviously critical when it comes to determining the outcome?
Brill: I agree, and that's where the social media expert comes in. You know, while we haven't had social media around for many years, there are still going to be some who get it a little bit more and understand the strategy and have experience in successfully building a community.
Tomorrow we conclude our conversation with some final comments about the importance of metrics in social media, thoughts on the applicability of online gaming and how both are being applied to social media marketing within the B to B space.