Social media community manager: Gatekeeping experience required

Recently while researching for a guest speaker a thought stroke me: What is the future of gate-keeping in organisations?

Let me introduce the situation: We were looking for an unusual company to feature as a social media success case study in a webinar. Instead of being innovative in our approach, we simply pinpointed candidates and contacted their Marketing and PR Departments over the phone …

Guess what we found? While in some cases we spoke to the decision maker (just as you want in sales), we found more than one gatekeeper in others. We were actually trying to feature a company and got some answers which will sound familiar to those of you who have cold-called at some stage:

  • “He’s unavailable at the moment, What is it in connection with? Is this a Sales call?”
  • “Mmm, I am not sure they’ll be interested…”
  • “See, she’s still on a call but we’ll be quite busy you know…”.

Hello? I am offering you an opportunity to stand out, no worries, never mind.

Obviously the mistake was ours and we should have been more original and probably approach the candidates directly on Twitter or their Facebook Wall; even network with them publicly in their blog before hand. Nobody likes being surprised over the phone. We should have known better.

Nowadays those brands who interact in social media are (or seem to be) very prone to feedback and the buzz words “conversation” and “listening”. We should have taken advantage of that, but forget my example for now.

I am sure you perceive this whole democratisation of Twitter streams and Facebook walls, and massive tagging and updates, which is something good overall because it empowers users, consumers and people in general.  Let us not discuss if brands are really accepting this or just feel they have to catch up, that is not the point. The point is figuring out where all this is going to and how long these holes in the gates will last.

Looking at some little facts

People who are not necessarily “all-about-social-media” are catching up really quick:

  • More and more cold callers feel the need to connect with me online before approaching me over the phone.
  • More and more noise and spam is generated online and both consumers and brands are targets

The point is that consumers and anyone that has to sell something actually use very similar channels (if not the same). You can now think of sales people as anyone trying to convey a message in social media, we all have to sell:

  • A recruiter connects with a candidate on LinkedIn.
  • An unemployed person writes on a company’s wall looking for a job
  • A managing director opens a question up to the Twitter following and 40 responses are received from random sales reps or automatic script replies
  • An unhappy customer wants to approach a (soon unhappy) brand and complains on their wall, while tagging 3 (soon happy) competitors.
  • Social networks feel the need to open more and more to companies interacting in their users in some shape or form.
  • The community manager role starts proliferating (plenty of job openings) and/or more “online pr” companies handle efforts on behalf of clients.
  • Everyone in general takes advantage of the openness of social networks and the actual physical receptionist starts missing the old gatekeeping days, almost everything happens online.

Over to you:

How long do you think this democratisation of streams will last?
Can the job spec of an online community manager say something like  “One year experience in online gatekeeping”?

Or maybe the very platforms will develop gate-keeping technology or policies and keep our online relationships and engagement a bit real?


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Comments ( 2 )
  • Virginia says:

    Social media brought a whole new level of “relationship” through a faster and more open communication in both personal and business environments. People are less reluctant to communicate with strangers and to post personal information on the web. Strangely virtual communications are making human interactions more personal. It may be because people feel that their intimate zone is not invaded as they can control when and how they will respond. In a way social media represents less commitment therefore managers are more inclined to talk to you. But in my opinion this will only last for a while as spammers will quickly ruin the effect… Managers will get tired of being invaded by useless communication and instead of gatekeeping managers we may see gatekeeping admins and then software to help select relevant information to businesses. Now the question is what will be the next level of communication? sending holograms?

  • facundo says:

    Good point. Not sure how much people can control the “whens and hows” of responding. As for holograms, I am sure there will be spam too!!! Thanks for your comment

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