Look for the communicators, not the geeks

I have just read an article by Melonie Gallegos in iMedia Connection on “9 social media questions you’re afraid to ask”. There are lots of good points in it, but one thing that I disagree with in the “What if I don’t have the resources to do it?” section. Melonie talks about what to do if there is not enough resource in the marketing department to undertake social media. She suggests seeking out geeks in the organisation and recruiting them to help, while I say – don’t search out the geeks to help you, search out the communicators!

Geeks love technology but they are often some of the worst people at communicating. On the other hand there are lots of people in most organisations who are already great communicators. They may be anyone from receptionists to project managers to HR specialists but they will stand out because you can see how well they engage people offline. It is far easier to train them in social media than it is to train most geeks to engage the people with whom they have online discussions.

Natural communicators can be given some brief instructions on the use of social media if necessary, but they are probably Facebook savvy anyway. Also they will need some guidance on brand guidelines of what to say and what not to say about the company. Then you can give them the opportunity to engage with customers, prospects, suppliers and anyone else who is communicating with the company on social media.
One other thing that they will need, as will anyone who uses social media on behalf of an organisation – the channel to be able to pass on key feedback, suggestions,questions and complaints to the appropriate department and the authority to ensure they receive answers which they can pass on. Social media is worse that useless, it is counter-productive, if input from received is not acknowledged and answered in a reasonable and timely manner.
Organisations have untapped talent in different departments that can be channeled to provide great resources for effective social media.