This week's Chrysler Twitter hiccup brought up something that's been rolling around in my head for a while. As brands try to find their place in social media, there are two common approaches.
Some outsource everything to a third party; but if you understand social media's full potential and you're genuinely interested in engaging your customers, then you'll probably agree this is not the best option. It's like throwing a dinner party and asking the caterer to host while you go out to the movies.
Others bring it in-house, but in most cases these are junior-level roles. Which was fine a few years ago, but as these channels begin to gain bigger and bigger reach, the stakes keep getting higher. Consider the fact that most traditional forms of marketing go through many levels of approval before reaching the public, and most tweets go through exactly one ... and things don't always end well.
That's why I think there's an opportunity for a new role -- a kind of social media captain (in honour of James T himself). Someone with a rare mix of skills: part marketing director, publicist, ad copywriter, brand evangelist, diplomat, and a great improviser. I picture them sitting in the middle of a room, working closely with a team of community coordinators, all managing different social channels. They have a morning scrum to make sure everyone's on the same page regarding current marketing objectives and programs. Throughout the day, the coordinators are able to handle most interactions on their own, but when they come across potential landmines, or opportunities to reinforce the brand story (or in a lot of cases, both), they have the option to call on the "captain" to quickly craft the right response.
Maybe this isn't the right answer, but it feels like a good approach to staying engaged with the growing volume of social media conversations in a timely manner, while minimizing the frantic next-day backpedaling.