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Opinions of Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Columnist: Kuseh, Jerome

Is the Social Media Manager on the Way Out?

Not in Ghana.

by Jerome Wematu Kuseh

If you’re a tech-savvy young Ghanaian graduate who spends a lot of time on social media, you’re likely to know some few people who you think have the coolest job – social media manager.

In the last three years in Ghana, many businesses have woken up to the importance of having a presence on social media. But it’s only in the last year or so that many businesses have understood that it’s not enough to have a Facebook page or a Twitter account; you have to give people a reason for making you a part of their social media experience – you have to engage them.

Using social media is gradually becoming less of the preserve of the early adopters. Almost everyone I know has a basic understanding of Facebook. A significant number still struggle with Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn, but that is shrinking at a remarkable rate. This development has led people to conclude that the role of social media manager or strategist will soon be extinct, as almost every young person has some kind of social media skill in their CV. They foresee a time when people will be required to take on social media roles as part of their duties as opposed to having dedicated social media staff.

There are four reasons why I doubt this will happen in Ghana.

1. Social Media does not follow regular work hours. Let’s assume that social media does become a basic function like e-mailing, and every employee has to do it, who will take the job home? Customers don’t care about your working hours. If they have a problem, they will start taking on the company on social media. Social media managers take on the task of working at odd hours, on weekends and holidays as well. To suggest than an employee who is already working full-time on another task can effectively take on that role is to either expect too much of your employee, or think too little about the importance of social media.

2. Social Media is spontaneous. Social media allows a quick way to react to opportunities for advertising (as Oreos did during Super Bowl XLVII and Arby’s did during the Grammy Awards). It’s not enough to develop a marketing campaign and expect people to go with it, you need to monitor what’s hot and what’s not and get relevant responses to it. Even with the importance of having a central message, there are variations needed depending on the platform. Facebook has virtually everybody, Twitter & Instagram has the cool kids (if you don’t know who a cool kid is, get a social media manager), Google+ has the tech-savvy and LinkedIn has the professionals and upcoming professionals and entrepreneurs. To simply copy and paste the same posts on your platforms just won’t cut it.

3. Nobody is watching TV or reading newspapers. Most of the people in my social media circle only watch TV for live sports or award shows. If you can pay to have your advertising during such times, good for you, but since most of these programmes are only available on satellite TV, that’s going to be very difficult to do. Well, so what about newspapers then? A lot of people get their news right off the internet, a lot of it through social media. I’m not saying my circle is representative of the population, it’s not. But it’s a trend. It makes sense to be where your customers are going and Ad agencies are not sleeping on this (just look at the number of ads on YouTube). This shift of advertising from traditional media to social media is going to create opportunities for people who know their way around social media.

4. Someone has to take the blame. When something goes wrong in the company, the one at fault has to be identified and reprimanded. What happens if your best HR/Accounting/Management person gets it wrong on social media, would you be willing to get rid of them because of a mistake on social media? Someone has to be responsible for your social media passwords, ensuring adequate and timely responses to customer complaints on social media, taking advantage of opportunities to promote a brand and working around the clock at the customer’s (and your) beck and call.


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