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Getting Grown Up about Social Media: An Interview with Mandy Jenkins
About 10 years ago, I started working for a large, publicly traded company where only the CEO was authorized to communicate the press. Restricting who could speak on behalf of the company was a common practice where stockholder confidence (and securities compliance) was at stake.
Fast forward a decade and we now have many companies where the only people who are authorized to speak to the press are the CEO — and whoever is handling social media. And too often, social media is assigned to an entry-level employee or even an intern.
Mandy Jenkins, departing social media editor at Huffington Post, recently wrote about this trend on her blog. We caught up with her to talk about why that’s the case—and why undervaluing social media is an unwise and even dangerous strategy.
Innate: How is managing social media different than other functions in the communications field?
Jenkins: It’s a job that’s still being developed. There are not a lot of set guidelines. Not everyone understands what it entails.
Innate: You’ve said that a social media position is often treated as a “young person’s job.” If that’s the case, it seems like the social media staff would be kept out of high-level meetings where the fundamental decisions are made about communications strategy, business goals, crisis management, etc. Is that a mistake?
Jenkins: It’s important for companies to understand that this person [who is managing social media] is just as much a representative for the organization as someone as the top. They need to have the knowledge and background. You have to understand what that role really means for your organization.
It’s so easy for someone to capitalize on a mistake you make [on social media channels].
Innate: If you’re working in social media, what can you do to encourage your company to get more strategic about it?
Jenkins: It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. … When you’re the voice of an organization, you feel a lot of ownership over it and you feel like you have to be a part of it. But you and your management have to find a way to make it work. Don’t get caught up in just running accounts. Make sure you craft a strategy and re-craft it. Take the lead for yourself and your organization.
Jenkins offers great advice to social media professionals, but her comments really illustrate how crucial it is for business leaders to get educated and strategic about social media, and to fully understand the benefits and risks inherent in using each social media channel.
If you’re struggling with your social media strategy, contact us and talk to us about our customized consultation services. We can put you on the path toward an impactful — and manageable — social media strategy.