Lately there has been a lot of conversation about brand strategies and social media in the real estate industry. The conversations may not have been public but they’re certainly happening privately. A lot of these conversations are probably more a question of “what do we do here and why?”
In this series of blog posts, I’m going to address the process of hiring a social media strategist (or whatever title you wish to give that person in your organization), creating your strategy from top to bottom, implementing the strategy and monitoring the effectiveness. As often as I am asked to advise a person or company in this process, I thought it would be beneficial to put it on my blog.
Today I will be reviewing the basics of hiring a qualified strategist who will help your company succeed, grow and own the social spaces.
As companies in and out of the real estate industry recognize that they need to have a corporate brand strategy to grow their presence in the social spaces so growth the demand for guidance and advice from those who are considered experts. Unfortunately it is very easy for someone to be perceived as something they may not legitimately be. Checking qualifications and credentials is essential in finding the partner you need to develop a strategy, a mission statement, a purpose, and ultimately an educational program for the whole organization to work together.
Many companies are missing a few essential components in a total strategy, this can be incredibly costly. Consistent brand strategy and identity is the key to reputation and risk management in the social spaces. What often happens is that once a corporate strategy is created and implemented, it is forgotten. Disseminating this strategy through every level of an organization is essential to the success of the organization. That might sound dramatic because it is. It takes years to build a brand and reputation, and seconds to destroy it in the social spaces. The most frequent cause of damage is the failure to train, engage and share the plan with every employee or person associated with an organization.
I often hear complaints from corporate officers and executives that people are not posting messages consistence with the culture of the Corporation. When involved in these discussions, I often ask to see the corporate social media policy. My request is often met with a look of bewilderment. If you don’t have a policy, and haven’t educated the corporate community about the policy and expectations, it’s difficult to expect those people to adhere to the policy. I don’t know how many of you are psychic or have crystal balls, but I don’t.
It is the responsibility of the person hiring the social media strategist/PR/marketing person to understand what the purpose of the hire is. A good way to determine the needs of the corporation are for the executives to work directly with the head of the marketing division, as well as members of the board. Making a definitive list of needs, will help to identify the qualifications necessary. Asking for help in identifying, vetting, and qualifying candidates is essential, but possibly one of the most difficult steps in the process. It is a bit of a catch-22, you’re seeking someone with qualifications to help you identify someone with qualifications that will match the qualifications that that someone may have helped you establish. Kind of confusing?
Taking your time to figure out the needs, the partner, the qualifications, and checking the credentials is essential to success. Is the difference between doing it and doing it well. Word-of-mouth is great for consumers in determining of vendor to use for service but should not be an option for Corporation hiring a social media marketing director, or other similar position. Using a reputable agency, recruiter, or appear in another Corporation is a good way to go about this. Be sure to check resumes and references, even asking for a demonstration and sample proposal is reasonable. When I used to hire web designers back in the day when everyone fancied themselves to be a web designer, I would plop a note had and pencil down in front of the candidate and ask them to write the code to create a page which I would hand them on a separate piece of paper. If they could do it and write HTML themselves then they would pass the test, the ones that needed a visual editor were the ones I didn’t want to train.
More often than not cost becomes a question in the hiring process. The kind of expertise you need is not inexpensive. When hiring a person who will develop, implement, and monitor your corporate present in the online spaces money should be the least of your worries. The cost of doing it wrong far outweighs the cost of doing it right. Mack Collier does an annual post about the cost of social media, it should be mandatory reading. You get what you pay for, the old adage absolutely applies.
As we say in the social spaces, shiny objects are attractive. Every day more people are claiming the title of social media expert, guru or otherwise. It is far more important to seek those that have long-term credentials which lend themselves nicely to the current iteration of social media. When an individual can demonstrate longevity and personal development and evolution which runs concurrent with the growth and evolution of social media you will have a winning combination. People like Chris Barger, Scott Monty, Frank Eliason, Jeff Pulver, Amber Naslund, Christine Morrison, Liz Strauss, Margie Clayman, and select others are uniquely qualified to advise a Corporation in their hiring process or can do the job themselves. (As an aside, I have met everyone on this list – except Frank, and a proud to call quite a few my friend).
Every day there seems to be a new “golden child” but the true test isn’t in popularity, or “shine” but in longevity, credibility and a multi-year track record.
In the next post in this series I will review the elements and structure of a successful social media brand strategy.