Video and the Changing Role of ‘Social Media’ Employees

Social media is no longer the arrow that points to content: It is content in and of itself.

The line distinguishing social media and content continues to blur. Led by Facebook’s aggressive video strategy, social media companies are making a concerted effort to keep people native to their platforms instead of directing them elsewhere. Social media is no longer the arrow that points to content: It is content in and of itself.

This shift should inform how organization’s social media employees are both hired and utilized, along with the structuring of a holistic content strategy. It also provides a challenge to current social media employees to expand their skill sets and to reshape internal conceptions of their managed platforms.

The latest State of Social Marketing Report from Simply Measured shows that 57 percent of social media employees roll up to marketing within organizations, with another 22 percent rolling up to communications or public relations. Going forward, it makes sense for them to spend more time working alongside content and production teams as programming is mapped out. Content needs to be created that will flourish on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine and Snapchat natively and to push those platforms to develop into individual revenue streams.

Over the past year, our social team at Whistle Sports Network has gradually increased participation in weekly content strategy meetings and ideations for brand campaigns. This has allowed our team to get a better understanding of the content creative process while bringing input from what is trending across social media and offering adaptation strategies for Facebook- and Twitter-owned platforms. This has helped improve our overall engagement and reach on brand campaigns. It has also helped our team better understand the challenges of the production and programming process.

It is not a matter of if Facebook and Twitter are going to monetize video–it is a matter of when (Facebook has already started with a small group of properties). It is unlikely that they will leave their other owned video-driven properties behind for long, Instagram and Vine. Snapchat is more complex but remains a valuable component for branded campaigns and a rapidly expanding tool for direct access to a millennial dominated audience.

So why not think of these platforms in the same way as YouTube or other owned and operated video platforms? Why not incorporate those who operate the platforms daily into the content planning process?

When hiring social media employees, their ability to ideate and think in a programmatic way should be considered as critical criteria. Production skills and experience working on multiple content series are valuable attributes. The ability to handle basic editing tasks is increasingly valuable and, while writing skills should have always been considered, being able to format short scripts and series pitches is useful.

Current social media employees need to challenge themselves to view their managed platforms not just as marketing tools but as content hubs. This requires an upleveling of scheduling, consistency and a deeper understanding of the necessary style for video content platform to platform. They also must push their internal peers to not exclusively put “social media” platforms in a separate bucket from YouTube and other owned/operated platforms, especially Facebook.

The strategy for video content needs to account for how it will perform on both YouTube and Facebook, along with how it will fit on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. It cannot continually default to having social media platforms publish short-form teasers of a final product that pushes people to YouTube or another platform. The more Facebook and other platforms clean up their video tools, which are rapidly improving each day, the more brands and advertisers will value views on the platform, if they don’t already.

It is necessary to evaluate how much time your social media staff is spending with the marketing or communications team helping to pursue their goals compared with the time spent with the content or production staff.

Joe Caporoso is director of social media at sports video content provider Whistle Sports Network.

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