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Social platform

Bearing Partnership co-founder Tim Smith discusses how social media affects the composition, responsibility and recruitment of an ecommerce team

I n order to remain at the forefront of the extremely competitive ecommerce retail market, businesses need to consider how the emerging trends in ecommerce translate into new skills and responsibilities and how these can be best addressed with internal or external resources. Social media is an emerging discipline and we carefully consider how this affects the composition, responsibility and recruitment of an ecommerce team.

A brand’s presence on and use of social media platforms plays an increasingly important part in the attraction, engagement and conversion of customers. In today’s recruitment market, roles with ‘social media’ in the title are only just beginning to emerge. Some larger brands have heads of social media to define and deliver a consumer engagement strategy while others hire social media executives to manage and monitor the content upload process and act as administrator of the social media platforms. Others add social media into the strategy and give the management of it to an existing team member.

The first obstacle in hiring talent is that the sector is still in its infancy, so candidates have not had the chance to build up a legacy of skills or demonstrable achievement in social media. One part of the industry where individuals are being exposed to a range of social media initiatives is within digital agencies and this is proving a fruitful training ground for social media professionals. So what are the key indicators of a credible background in social media?

Social success

Social media’s success is reliant on consumers acknowledging their interest in a brand through some form of engagement: Facebook is no longer the number of friends you have but the number of “likes” you receive. Twitter is no longer the number of followers but the amount of retweets. Blogging success relies not just on broadening the exposure of your brand with links to your site but in gaining the endorsement of prominent bloggers that consumers respect.

A digital marketer who uses social media effectively will be able to demonstrate its relevance in terms of customer engagement and some form of conversion. For instance, competitions, offers and promotion campaigns on social media sites can be effective in gaining customer data and insight while also encouraging loyalty. This data can then be directly used in email marketing CRM campaigns.

Channel output

To achieve the most from the social media channel, output needs to be regular, fresh and relevant to the audience. Despite the routine nature of tweeting, output should never be facile. What is essential is that someone is monitoring the platform to deal with customer enquiries, respond to complaints or just be there to influence the dialogue. An ideal scenario is that the social media community moderates itself with your fans and advocates answering the questions themselves or defending negative comments. This reduces the need to constantly review the activity but is only evident in the more mature communities.

So who best to take responsibility for this activity? Digital marketing and ecommerce managers need to offer leadership and direction to ensure the social media strategy delivers to brand values. These senior managers also need to hire operational executives or mid managers to execute the social media campaigns. These are the individuals that will offer creative output to ensure the engagement is respected and remarked upon by the community and will have the time to devote to developing and enhancing this user base with regular updates and tweets. One point to consider is that often the most suitable person to deliver the best tweets will be a senior figure in the business that is a known face of the brand but these individuals will need guidance and support in delivery.

Selecting the right candidate

The problems that have always been present in digital staff recruitment are perpetuated in the rise of social media. That is to say, hiring people to do jobs that haven’t been fully defined or where there is not a blueprint of success. As such, businesses must carefully review the social media objectives of the brand, assess the skills and availability of internal resource and review the budget available to recruit external support (agency or new hire). Where an external hire is considered there are some key indicators that will assist in the consideration and selection of the right candidate.

Bearing Partnership hires a number of roles in social media: social media executive - travel; digital manager - social media - retail superbrand; and social media content manager - broadcaster.Taking all of this into account, social media is an essential and expected part of an ecommerce proposition and one that will increasingly feature in the responsibility of an ecommerce team.


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