Social Business, Social Media Staffing and Operations

Permission is the Enemy of Speed

This week I’ve been writing about speed and response expectations for business on the social Web.

speed wins 300x199 Permission is the Enemy of SpeedUltimately, speed wins. The companies that engage customers on Twitter and Facebook within minutes are making a none-too-subtle statement about their embrace of the social telephone and the primacy of the customer. In comparison, slow response or no response produces a decided “meh” vibe.

So how do you win the speed race that has no finish line? How do you become uber responsive to your customers on the social Web? Not with technology, and not with tools.

You win by eschewing permission in favor of response time.

Beg for Forgiveness Rather Than Ask for Permission

Every time your front line responder(s) need to find out the answer to a customer question, or check with a manager about how to word something, you have failed to truly embrace the real-time nature of modern customer relations.

That’s why it’s so critically important to staff your social media front lines with people who not only have extraordinary passion for your company, but who also have the experience and judgement to minimize response delay.

The widely held notion that we should staff community manager and similar positions with young, inexpensive, socially savvy people who juggle smart phones like flaming clubs may actually be a terrible idea.

Instead, what if we staffed community manager and similar positions with experienced team members who know the ins and outs of the company, can subsequently answer most questions without asking for help, and most importantly have the judgement that is accrued only with time?

For a while, Frank Eliason at Comcast (now Citi) was held up as the standard. And experienced, wise, consumer affairs-oriented connector with smarts and empathy. But now, as social-powered customer service becomes pervasive, it seems that more companies don’t want to invest in someone like Frank, but instead hire someone who “grew up with this stuff” – regardless of how little organizational understanding that person possesses.

I don’t often see the logic in putting an inexperienced person at the controls of the only part of your company that is truly real-time and exceptionally visible.

Do you?

Related
  • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

    I love you for this post Jay. It is an ongoing discussion/debate/argument I have with clients & my marketer friends (@DannyBrown). My stance: Using and Intern for Social Media is INSANE. Would you send them to your top client to negotiate a deal?I am either tattooing this on my forearm: “The widely held notion that we should staff community manager and similar positions withyoung, inexpensive, socially savvy people who juggle smart phones like flaming clubs may actually be a terrible idea.” Or, I’m changing my tagline to IT. Or, I’m just going to repeat it ad nauseam to everyone I interact with regarding Social Media.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @AmyMccTobin I’ll pay for the tattoo.

  • tillypick

    I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of this message, Jay. To make it meaningful versus just a rant, though, you need to address practical considerations, or at least suggest some ways of following through on what you’re saying here.

    For instance, if you have millions of customers, how can you mobilize a sizeable customer service organization to achieve this? Related to that, how do you pay for it? The person you’re describing is likely much farther along in their career, so higher compensation expectations. And, think about the perception of being the person essentially answering the social media phone when you’re at that stage in your career.

    Help the rubber meet the road, Jay.

    tp

    • CassieWitt

      @tillypick I agree. There are some practical concerns with this. But if you staff with a higher-payed employee and their main concern is still customer satisfaction, than they should have no trouble with their perception of the job. At least, that’s my take. Although, I’ve worked with a few companies where executives wouldn’t be caught dead on social media, but as the younger work-force “grows up” maybe we’ll see a drastic change in that. :)

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @tillypick True, I did not connect the dots here, but I’m trying to do less of that lately and raise questions rather than answering them. Partially because there is no right answer in this case. How much expertise can a company afford to put on the front lines? I don’t know. Other than in most cases it’s penny wise and pound foolish to not at least consider putting more experienced hands at the controls of real-time business.

  • dirktolken

    You nailed it on the head, no interns for this kind of crm or strategic communications…

  • http://www.scottcrider.com/ CScottCrider

    When I clicked through to this article, I thought it was going to be about upper management hamstringing its social/technology development teams with too much red tape – reducing competitiveness against more nimble businesses. Being forced to endlessly analyze/prove/project and wait for management to “approve” (read: “understand”) the opportunities that exist for the implementation of truly game-changing new social strategies and tools is costing them – big time. Still, great article about staffing, too.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @CScottCrider Well there’s certainly plenty of that too, I just can’t bring myself to write about it!

  • MSchechter

    Hey smarter me! So I kind of want to play devils advocate for a few. Not on the hiring a kid, that is just nutty, but on the speed of response. There is no doubt that in an ideal world and with major budgets you are spot on. In the small to medium sized business, we don’t have the same resources and therefore have to prioritize.

    I couldn’t agree more that hiring the right person with the right skills is essential, that said, they cost more money and that usually means that you can hire less of them (something I am in favor in). This diminishes response time, but it significantly improves the quality of service.

    Not having an army of people tweeting on our behalf has allowed us to funnel those funds into the actual service. It’s helped us to make the overall experience the right one, rather than just the initial contact.

    I’m not saying we’re perfect. I’m not saying we couldn’t improve. What I am saying is that we have some serious limitations that need to be thought out and have had to make some realistic compromises along the way. In this particular case, we value the right outcome over the fast one. And we’ve found our customers do as well. Do we elicit a meh at the onset, possibly, but we go out of our way to deliver a holy cow.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @MSchechter Well said my friend. Ultimately, it’s about satisfaction. Speed is one component in driving that satisfaction. Perhaps the most important one in some cases, but not the only one. Thanks for the reminder.

    • http://www.socialfish.org/ maddiegrant

      @MSchechter love it!

  • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ djwaldow

    “I don’t often see the logic in putting an inexperienced person at the controls of the only part of your company that is truly real-time and exceptionally visible.”

    Do you think part of it is still the fact that many organizations do not put a high enough value on social media?

    • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

      @djwaldow I don’t know if they don’t value it or they just don’t ‘get it,’ that it IS part of their marketing and PR, and a direct line of communication with their customer base.

  • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

    In an ideal world, yes. In a more practical world (as far as expectations go), difficult.

    Others have mentioned the scale of size, and no company in the world can afford to have one rep per customer, which is where the most ideal speed response would come in.

    Additionally, you get to companies in the pharma and legal space, and you have to go through red tape and counsel before replying, especially in the litigous world we live int today.

    So maybe it’s less speed, and more greed and me-too expectations, that needs looked at?

    • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

      @DannyBrown If you need to ask permission to reply to any comment on Social Media then I think you should avoid the space. I have Financial Consultants, Attorneys, and just plain Control Freaks I’ve advised to avoid it. You can’t bend Social Media expectations to fit your model. And as much as you may want to change your audience’s expectations of speedy customer service, you WON’T. What I love about Jay’s post is that he is 150% correct about the importance of WHO should be managing your Social Media voice.

      • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

        @AmyMccTobin Not necessarily, Amy. Think of any celebrity faux pas where they’re offered a comment or opinion and it’s blown back at them. Ashton Kutcher and the sex scandal at the college, for example. Just because you can use speed doesn’t mean you should.

        Additionally, if I’m quick to accept blame as a company for something, and then find out it’s user negligence, the impact of the blame acceptance could have made major damage to my financials or brand.

        There’s more to consider than “social is fast, you should be too”.

        • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

          @DannyBrown Danny – Ashton Kutcher’s wasn’t about Speed at all, but about Ignorance. He was actually LATE to the game in tweeting about Paterno’s firing by Sports Addict’s standards. Anyone following sports avidly knew JoPa’s firing was possibly coming and knew what it was connected to as soon as they heard he was gone.

        • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

          @AmyMccTobin “Speed” as in “without thinking”. If you don’t measure what you’re going to say, you create more problems.

        • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

          @DannyBrown I don’t think “Speed” = “Not Thinking” If the right person is there they can make the decision FASTER. No permission needed from the higher up.

      • MSchechter

        @AmyMccTobin @DannyBrown

        1) Just because you may want to consider your answer, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. We consider our response all the time as each situation is somewhat unique.
        2) They are not control freaks, they have restrictions that need considering.
        3) You absolutely can bend social media to fit. That’s why we seek out the networks and tactics that work best. You cant break it to you, but you can certainly bend it to your needs and the needs of your customers.
        4) I’m not looking to change my customers expectations of speedy service, I’m looking to change their expectations of good service and good service isn’t always speedy.

        The reason you wan’t a good person and not an intern isn’t necessarily only faster service. It’s having someone with the good sense to know when to answer and when to consider. I’m damn empowered in what I say on behalf of our company and how much I can spend to fix a problem, but there are often moments where I stop, think and perhaps even ask someone what possible repercussions could be from an answer.

        There are too many people looking to slam brands left and right for them to always give the first answer that comes into their mind to meet some imaginary ideal response time. This is why there is one skill that needs to be above all others in whoever you have on your front lines. Common sense.

        • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

          @MSchechter@DannyBrown Michael, I’m not disagreeing with you, or rather, my point isn’t simply about SPEED, it’s about putting the right person in charge so that speed is inherent in your Social Media response time… AND, so that you don’t have a PR disaster.I do not agree that you will be able to change the masses expectations of faster, better service. And I’m not advocating that you be “on” all the time… My point, and I think @JayBaer ‘s point is that by having the RIGHT people (i.e. not an intern or inexperienced person) in your Social Media team you WILL speed up response time.

        • MSchechter

          @AmyMccTobin @DannyBrown There are two points here and that in mixing them it’s become a more challenging conversation. The first is what is a reasonable response time and the second is who you put in charge of said that response. I don’t think anyone is arguing the who portion. Where I think we disagree is in what the customer expectation is. I think they crave excellent service. Speed matters, but a satisfactory resolution will often forgive and outshine a quick response. I do not believe the average consumers expectation is measured in minutes when dealing with most businesses.

        • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

          @MSchechter@DannyBrown You’re right Michael – minutes is absurd. I THINK this timing conversation started regarding the Ragu issue and I believe (and I think mackcollier did too) that 15 hours to respond to bad PR is TOO long. And there HAS been debate on the WHO, although perhaps it wasn’t with you two…. I am an advocate against inexperienced, young employees/interns being in charge of your Social Media Voice.

        • MSchechter

          @AmyMccTobin @DannyBrown @mackcollier

          You know where I stand on Ragu, but I 100% agree on the who.

        • MackCollier

          @AmyMccTobin@MSchechter@DannyBrown Hey guys, I think Jay’s main point was about empowering the people that are on the front lines to respond appropriately. That reduces the friction throughout the entire process dramatically.

          Still, I don’t think the speed of the response should be the top goal, it should be having the ‘right’ response as quickly as possible.

        • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

          @MackCollier@MSchechter@DannyBrown Well Amen to that: “I don’t think the speed of the response should be the top goal, it should be having the ‘right’ response as quickly as possible.” Speed is relative. Red tape, and by that I mean UNNECESSARY permission requirements, is the problem.

        • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

          @AmyMccTobin @MackCollier @MSchechter So, on a separate yet related note, can’t help but notice it’s been 14 hours and counting since “dissent” with Jay’s approach, and no response from “the brand” (Jay). Gotta love irony…

        • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

          @DannyBrown@MackCollier@MSchechter Ha… not like Jay though.I know you disconnect sometimes Danny – who mans your stuff when you’re doing that? I know my answer is NO ONE, so there could be a time when I didn’t see a comment for 15 hours. But I’m a small, small biz…. different expectations for larger companies.

        • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

          @MSchechter@AmyMccTobin@DannyBrown It’s not about speed of response, it’s about speed of resolution. Not always the same thing. I agree that today, customer expectation isn’t always minutes. But it will be. I firmly believe that.

        • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

          @MackCollier@AmyMccTobin@MSchechter@DannyBrown Not only empowering those people Mack, but having seasoned enough employees that empowering them isn’t a risk to the organization.

        • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

          @DannyBrown@AmyMccTobin@MackCollier@MSchechter I know! Ironic indeed. Insane day yesterday that left me without Internet access for most of it, and unexpectedly staying the night in a hotel in rural Kentucky at 3am.

          You’re right that I have am faced with the same issues that companies and real “brands” must think through. To whit, process, choices, and tools.

          On process, I have made a conscious decision to not write and publish in real-time. I write blog posts one or two weeks in advance, and have done so for years. I do not immediately jump into WordPress when inspired, or when I find something I want to write about. My schedule is too packed to make that viable now. That’s one of the reasons I don’t do much “news” content here. I can’t be that timely (and other people do it way better than I ever could). Thus, C&C is more of a magazine than a newspaper. At least that’s how I think of it.

          Because of my travel schedule, there are times (like yesterday) when I publish a post when I am unlikely to have Internet access for large portions of the day. This is of course not ideal, because it prohibits me from answering comments quickly. I suppose I could have someone else on my team handle comments, but per the original post I am not comfortable giving someone else “permission” to write comments on my behalf on a post I wrote. I’m not quite ready to go full Ashton! Typically, this approach has not been a huge issue. Of course on this post it does seem somewhat absurd, and I should have been smarter to recognize that yesterday was going to be crazy, and I should have posted it today.

        • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

          (Part 2):

          On choices, I spent the little amount of Internet access I had yesterday responding to client needs in real-time. I made the decision to address client issues instead of addressing blog comments. I suppose that is a distinct and specific choice I made and value system I applied.

          On tools, something is jacked up with my LiveFyre settings lately, and I’m not getting ANY emails when comments are left here. This is of course a problem for the highly mobile blogger. It’s a pathetic excuse, but I probably would have found a way to jump in here last night somehow if I’d seen all the comment emails. I need to find a minute to get that fixed, and the fact that I haven’t found that minute lately is also a value judgement.

          Your comment got me to recognize that while I had some extenuating circumstances in this particular instance, the reality is that I have CHOSEN to make blog comment answering less than my first priority. Just like a brand must do with balancing the demands of Twitter, Facebook, blog, reputation management in other places, and many other things.

          I very much envy you and ginidietrich. and markwschaefer. (among many others) for the incredibly robust comment communities you have built on your blogs. I often wonder if I could build that level of community here if I placed additional emphasis on doing so. But then I think about what I’d have to do less of to make that happen, and I end up right back where we are today. Which is that I want interaction here. It makes me happy and it makes me better. But it’s not the most important thing to me. I’m doing the best I can within that framework, and maybe I’ll change that framework down the line.

          Sincere thanks for making me think deeply about this issue.

          To be continued.

        • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

          @JayBaer Anyone running a small business has to make these choices Jay, and I think our ‘community/customers’ will understand, even if it’s only after explanation, if we’re ‘out of touch’ for a 24 hour period.I think expectation is different for larger corporations, and that’s why you get the Brand Bashing on Social Media. IF these situations are handled quickly and with grace they can become positives. I think our real debate is “What is Timely?”

        • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

          @AmyMccTobin What makes it hard is that “timely” and “satisfactory” and related issues vary based on the expectations of the plaintiff, not the defendant. If we had codified expectations for what is viable on Twitter, blogs, etc. this would be a lot easier for brands (and even me). But we don’t yet. The cake is still being baked. We have those for the most part in legacy communication modalities. 30 minutes on hold is irksome, but acceptable. 24 hour response time via email, etc. We just haven’t decided as customers – not businesspeople – what is right in social media (yet). And it will be the customers that make that call, not the companies.

        • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

          @AmyMccTobin@MackCollier@MSchechter No-one. The whole point of disconnecting is to disconnect and be with my family. But then I’m not a business. ;-)

        • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

          @JayBaer@MSchechter@AmyMccTobin “Speed of resolution” – *now* we’re talking. ;-)

        • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

          @JayBaer Jay, thanks for such a response, mate – it’s just one of the reasons I respect you so much. And I think you make the perfect example of where we need to think of brands and their interaction with consumers. If we (with a more active experience in the space) can’t always “get it right”, think of how difficult the brands learning about it are finding it to cope.

          Cheers, sir, for starting a great discussion with many valid points on all sides.

        • MSchechter

          @JayBaer@AmyMccTobin@DannyBrown But resolution will often take time and can’t always be solved over twitter, email or even a phone. Often times, a customer is going to need to send us a product and they will often choose the cheapest, most untraceable method. Then we turn it over as fast as possible and ship it back. Turnaround is always a reality with tangible products.

          Realtime is a would be nice and I believe it always will be. Faster on the other hand is something all customers care about and something every business should strive for. I answer thousands of customer requests a year and all of them care more about a successful outcome than a speedy one. They want it to go as quickly as possible, but with few exceptions, they are always reasonable with response time.

        • MSchechter

          @JayBaer@DannyBrown@AmyMccTobin@MackCollier

          So what about brands who decide to make the same determination. We consciously decide not to offer realtime service in order to provide a better overall end result. Like you, members of the management team respond to customer requests (even the repetitive ones). This allows us to get a hands on feel for what challenges our customers actually face and offers us significantly more value than a monthly report from an employee. It’s a deterrent to realtime, but has lead us to far better CS practices and a better overall relationship with the customer.

          I think speed matters if you set an expectation that speed matters. If you become that company that’s known for answering the call on the second ring, and that’s how you show you care, you always have to answer the phone on the second ring. What I think matters most is that you care and that you figure out tangible ways to show that to your customer. Speed is just one of several possible avenues to show that and frankly, in the mind of the average customer (at least for now), I’m not even sure it’s a top priority.

          Hope you made it out of Kentucky…

        • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

          @MSchechter@JayBaer@DannyBrown@MackCollier At the end of the day I guess it “depends upon what your definition of speed is.”I know this: I LOVE my Adobe products but I detest calling their support because it is OFTEN an hour wait time. I’ve put off upgrading for this very reason many times. They may think and hour is speedy. I don’t. I don’t think YOU always get to determine what speed is….. the customer does. But again, it depends on product/company/situation/your marketplace.

      • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

        @AmyMccTobin@DannyBrown I would hope that “social media” is available to all, and of course there are good examples of highly regulated businesses doing it well. That said, I find this to be much more a cultural DNA issue than a regulatory one. If your company believes in the primacy of the customer, and in engaging with customers on the ground of their choosing, you’ll find a way to make that work. If you don’t believe in that organizationally, there’s no shortage of excuses to not do it.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @DannyBrown I’m really glad you mentioned 1:1 and scalability. You’re right, that’s the ideal scenario, but of course in impractical. The big thorn as I see it is the overriding belief that we have to find ways to do socially enabled customer service within legacy cost structures. That may simply not be viable at some point in the future?

  • kathysacks

    Great post Jay Baer. Communications is strategic. Period. It’s why you need seasoned, passionate, big thinkers in the role working for someone who has a seat at the executive, senior management table. Or in smaller orgs, they are at the table already. It’s key your community manager be plugged in to the higher level conversation happening in the org.

    To throw an intern into it is no bueno. But you can surely have a less seasoned person work alongside your community manager so they apprentice and build the chops over time.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @kathysacks Really good point Kathy about having your front line people (Joe in your case) having a line in the water to the executive level. Harder to do in truly large organizations, but there’s no question in my mind that community management and duties of that nature are easier and better done if you can see the forest through the trees.

  • aeklund

    As I say to my clients, Jay, Facebook didn’t get to 700M because it’s hard to use. Same with Twitter. But you can’t always teach years of customer service or product development experience. Put the experience in front with the easy to use tools in hand. Your subject matter today is spot on — and it’s killing the social potential of most brands…every day. (BTW…been a while. I hope you’re doing well.)

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @aeklund Good to hear from you Andrew. Doing great. Thanks for the smart comment. What’s new with you?

  • SteveSanders24

    If you think about social engagement eventually replacing traditional customer service, you run into some economic challenges. Customer service org’s are usually a massive cost center for companies. The caliber of employee that staffs a call center is inferior to the community manager-type that can articulate an on-the-fly company messages. Just something to think about.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @SteveSanders24 No question about it. I’ll be writing a post next week on that subject.

  • mthompson55

    Working with several large organizations, you can hire and pay someone as much as you want and they would never have the knowledge to answer every question. Even a seasoned vet does not know everything. One thing I think that may have been overlooked is that speed and not knowing can live together. Customers want to be acknowledged and there is nothing wrong with setting expectations by saying “I have reached out to the ____ department or _____ person and will have an answer for you by _____ time.”

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @mthompson55 Excellent point. You don’t have to always answer the question immediately, just make sure that people know they’ve been heard. I appreciate you underscoring that reality, as I glossed over it too much in the post.

      • mthompson55

        @JayBaer@mthompson55 No worries. Love the post.

  • Chris_Eh_Young

    Yes, yes, and yes. I wrote a few weeks ago about the dangers of hiring a social media intern. Would you send an intern out on sales calls? Would you leave your intern in charge of your customer service department? Would you let your intern represent your company at trade shows?

    It’s a danger that many overlook. Hire for business acumen, develop social media skills. If you can find someone with the combination of both, pay them handsomely.

    • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

      @Chris_Eh_Young LIKE LIKE LIKE!

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @Chris_Eh_Young I concur on the notion of hiring for something other than social media skills, which breeds short-term, tactics-only thinking. Great comment Chris. Thank you.

  • http://www.socialfish.org/ maddiegrant

    OK, I’ll be the contrarian. We help a lot of our clients hire interns and they are amazing, intelligent, professional, and usually get hired permanently. (Wrote more about this here – http://www.socialfish.org/2011/06/how-to-hire-for-social-media-management.html). Sure, there are certain things an intern can’t do – write policy, for example. But the true work of social media management is fairly administrative and mundane. And of course they need to be supervised, and they need to be smart enough to know when to ask a higher-up to help or respond. But as social media becomes more and more ubiquitous, and really part of everyone’s job, that means you’ll want a whole team of people doing that work for various departments, including some smart junior people doing the grunt work and learning about the community around every organization.

    • MSchechter

      @maddiegrant Very, very fair point. There’s a stigma to the word, but I think that has more to do with how many small businesses tend to approach it (or really cheap out on it). Someone who hires someone like you is already taking their attempt seriously. In this case I think we are talking about that breed of local business owner who is looking to hire his cousins kid… you know, the weird twenty year old who likes to play with the magnifying lens but is a wiz with that computer thing and gets the facebookings and twitters. They don’t want social to be a company priority, they want it to go away and therefore offload it to the lowest common denominator.

      • http://www.socialfish.org/ maddiegrant

        @MSchechter I agree that that is what we’re talking about. But I think it’s a cliche, not to say a myth (and of course I have heard of people actually doing that) – and I feel like we need to change this conversation and treat it from a different angle. Such as, for example, this excellent post by CV Harquail – http://www.socialbusinessnews.com/too-many-wrong-messages-on-social-media-try-leadership-not-control/.

        I also think it’s dangerous to perpetuate the idea that social media management needs all these strategic cooks in the kitchen, and no dishwashers. The daily work of social media is NOT strategic, it’s tactical. It’s about implementing the strategy. I know several orgs who hire at the director level only to find themselves stuck with expensive hires who refuse (eventually) to do any of the tedious grunt work.

        • MSchechter

          @maddiegrant Depends on where you are sitting. From the sessions I’m often in, it isn’t the cliché, its the assumed best practice. They often come in asking exactly how much to hire the teenager to do this. I want to take a second and be clear here, I’m not speaking in hyperbole, that is a direct question I’ve faced multiple times.

          I also 100% agree on the strategy side, although I think smaller businesses almost always benefit by getting that help at the onset to help create the plan. In the long run, a good grunt is going to get you a hell of a lot farther than a high paid director, especially if they are working from a sound strategy from the onset.

          Off to check out that link! Thanks Maddie.

        • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

          @MSchechter@maddiegrant I have to say that my experience, which is primarily with small business, is like @MSchechter s. IF the company has already hired you @maddiegrant , then they are away that Soc. Media is a VITAL part of their marketing AND customer service. I’m not advocating AGAINST interns or inexperienced employees being ON the Social Media team, I’m against them BEING the Social Media team.

        • http://www.socialfish.org/ maddiegrant

          @AmyMccTobin agreed :)

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @maddiegrant Agreed. I like what @MSchechter says below in that if a company has you on board, they are already the 1%. Look at it from a 1-10 scale of experience and expertise. If you are a 10, and the super interns are a 3, the average is 6.5. That’s perfectly okay for most social media tasks. But the vast majority of companies are putting threes on the front line, with no 10 holding the rudder. That slows response time, and creates the potential (not a certainly, but the potential) for negative outcomes. All of this is risk tolerance vs. expenditure at some level. That’s what I’m trying to point out.

  • http://www.socialfish.org/ maddiegrant

    Oh, and young does not equal incompetent. Inexperienced does not mean reckless. It’s time to change the conversation on this. /rant

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @maddiegrant True, but inexperienced means needing to ask permission or get a question answered by someone else in the firm. That’s not a pejorative, it’s just reality.

      • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

        @JayBaer@maddiegrant I agree. Young does NOT mean anything negative, but it does mean lack of experience. I know that as a young, college educated, ‘mature for my age’ worker I definitely could not have handled difficult PR issues the way I can now. Experience matters, especially in these issues.Obviously every individual is different… but experience and decision making ability (power) are important to keep pace with Soc. Media.

      • http://twitter.com/citylifematt Matt Saunders

        I don’t agree that young means having to ask for permission… I’ve hired and managed young and old. It’s a mind set not based on age, but on a general attitude. Of course with time and age the attitude can shift one way or the other based on experience. You could become either more cautious and slow or more confident and independent, but I’ve had 22 year old kids who knew they knew what they were doing and just went for it, and I’ve had 56 year olds that had zero confidence and ability to act independently.

  • pbehnia

    One of my biggest complaints these days is that many well qualified candidates are not considered for positions because they do not have “social media” experience though they have deep seated knowledge in their pariticular industry and are marketing pros. What happened to balance? What happened to recognizing that the basics of marketing don’t change and that perhaps a fresh perspective to live (or close to live) engagement may benefit all of us and our businesses?

    • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

      @pbehnia AND, what is “knowing Social Media?” Is it knowing how to use Twitter, FB & Hootesuite? They are just TOOLS. The knowledge to make Social Media successful is: Marketing, Sales 101, Customer Service & PR. I could teach you the tools in a couple of days. All of them. It takes years of experience and education to know how to make them work for you.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @pbehnia I used to hire lots of web designers when I owned a digital marketing agency. We always hired people that had core design education (BFA from a university, usually), who could sketch and draw and knew design theory. Consistently turned out to be better and more thoughtful designers than the speciality school designers that basically knew how to make Photoshop do magic tricks. The same is true in social media today.

  • fergusonsarah

    It’s really nice to read such a good and valuable thoughts that sharing in this blog post.

  • belllindsay

    BINGO. All you young things out there, don’t get yer knickers in a knot over what @JayBaer wrote. He’s spot on. Remember that we were *all* young things at one time, and most of us have worked our way up – and by doing so, we’ve encountered issues and problems and made myriad mistakes. *That’s* what experienced means. It doesn’t mean ‘better’, it means having insight and knowledge and maturity with which to make the instantaneous decisions that are mentioned in this post, and are *required* in this brave new world of SM. Experience can’t be learned – in the ‘book learning’ way – it must be earned. Companies need to realize that they get what they pay for. And just might pay a hefty price in the long run. Great post Jay. :)

  • http://twitter.com/citylifematt Matt Saunders

    YES! This is what my team member and I live by and preach every day. We’ve made a mess sometimes, but that happens when baking a cake. In the end the cake is usually pretty damn tasty too!