Should a volunteer manage social media?

Last month we read about a social media administrator who had been sacked after an inappropriate “official” tweet had gone viral. Nothing too shocking in its own right – any business that had an employee share something improper online would at the minimum discipline the offender, and more usually, like this person, relieve them of their post.

What struck us about this case was that the social media administrator wasn’t “employed” – they were volunteering to manage this position for the company. This doesn’t exonerate the actions just because they were performing this role out of the goodness of their hearts – but what it does highlight is that too many businesses still see their online presence as a drudge that they suppose they ought to look at.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently” ~ Warren Buffett

Can A Volunteer Manage Business Social Media Accounts?

When it comes to small business’s online presence, too few think about how hard they have worked to build their reputation. By allowing a volunteer to manage your social media you run the risk of destroying your hard-earned reputation in far less than five minutes. A tweet can be retweeted several hundred times as well as shared on other social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, before you are even aware of it. Yes, the original can be deleted, but by then it is too late.

For small businesses marketing is often that extra burden they don’t really see the value of, the first area they can make cuts or not allocate budgets to. Whether you are interested in social media or not, your clients and competitors are. A social media administrator should be held in high enough regard to be entrusted to share the brand online in a professional manor – and that includes listening and responding to people not just broadcasting. Should this be handed over to a volunteer?

I have every faith that the wonderful Street Vets treat their patients whilst volunteering as well as they do in their practices. Nor any doubt that the skilled hairdresser volunteers who give their time free of charge to give haircuts for homeless people do a lesser job than in their salons. But these are all people who are qualified in their field before they put in the extra hours as volunteers.

I managed an account for a charity as a volunteer in the past, and I did so in the same professional manor as I do this for both our own business and our own clients. I had to resign in the end because I had become a victim of my own success – the social media for this particular charity took off and became too much to dedicate unpaid time to. But this is what I do for a living. This is not asking someone who posts a lot on Facebook to add a few updates for a company.

Social media is not taken seriously by too many businesses. This is not just a case of selling your product or sharing the odd meme – social media can bring a company’s reputation to its knees. Can you risk allowing someone willing, but inexperienced, to manage your professional reputation? Or should you outsource your social media to ensure your online presence is as professional as your business is?

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