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Valeria, you've just depicted a situation I had in our company a while ago. My boss told me - why don't you just hire an intern for $300 a month? Well, my position on this is exactly like yours: "Shit in - shit out".

After countless presentations and explanations that we indeed need a decent social media strategy both inside and outside the organization, I was told that in B2B market SM doesn't work O_o.

Anyway, my team started working in that direction without management's approval and in our free time. We were all certain, that our efforts will soon be rewarded. And indeed that happened - after 1.5 months of strategy we got our first lead.

Without experience, profound planning and great skills my team possessed it would be impossible to create a new marketing channel in such short time and bring value to community simultaneously.

My message to all the companies out there is: social media is as hard as directing an orchestra. People with no musical education don't understand why there is even a director at first place. Luckily, we all know how to get our message heard ;)

I think brands still consider that all these tools are just to show up when someone looks for a particular brand name on these sites and thats why they have completely misunderstood the analogy of social media professionals and hiring people who have accounts on all these sites.
Again integration is very important so we need people who understand every part of the cycle From involvement in the conversation, building the community to getting the right kind of ROI from the work done.
Thanks for sharing your words on this Valeria!!

@Elena - the community manager is someone passionate about communications, knowledgeable about business, capable of getting things done through networks and connections, with a solid grasp of people and group behaviors. Depending on the complexity of an organization's structure and the maturity of the organization (which doesn't mean how old the company is, it means how sophisticated and evolved it is in knowledge sharing terms) it will need a senior person in that job. One with a young hearth and a curious mind. You make a good case for external collaboration - Amber Naslund started that way. For it to be effective though, eventually the function needs to be embedded in the company.

@Paul - many organizations still don't understand the role and value of public relations and marketing beyond "getting more leads" and "doing the promotional thing". So yes, education and success stories continue to be important.

@Rich - many companies underestimate the value experienced players bring to the organization. It's easy when you focus on the tools and not on a profitable business strategy. You know what they say, you become what you focus on, thus you bring to bear upon yourself/your business the worst fears and stories that are in your head. Are there true communication courses and practicums in business school? Learning to negotiate a sticky issue, listening, responding, engaging. it looks to me like many business administrators (the BA in MBA) spend a lot of time thinking alone and presenting, instead of thinking together.

@Eric - how about adding a bunch of blogs for media outreach and a week of tweeting during the news release time? Surely that is doing social media, right? Thank you for the opinion, love the Twitter handle!

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