The advent of the internet and social media not only created billionaire founders and billionaire employees, starting from the dot-com bubble, but they also revolutionized the way we handle business and project visibility.
They made new kings at the rung of the food chain with freshly minted job descriptions rolled out everywhere.
Search engine optimization, analytics, visibility and identity experts - like coders and programmers slightly before them - became necessary commodities, canvassed with the aggression of need by headhunters and job hunting platforms.
Social media platforms promoted interconnectivity of people and businesses. They also bridged the gap in conversations and information dissemination — social media also became that tool for the side to visibility, brand identity and communication as we now know it.
For this reason, and seeing how social media gave individuals a voice, companies, bodies, politicians and political aspirants saw potential. To put it simply, if you want to do anything worthwhile in this day and age, you need a social media presence, not just because your rivals have social media accounts, but because you need to appeal to the myriad of dedicated social media users, brand promotion and for ease of information dissemination.
But because some of these companies, bodies, politicians and political aspirants are either an aggregate — more than one person or because they are too busy, or without the needed savvy to navigate the waters of social media, they needed a person who would understand the ethics of communication, have the required savvy of ‘cool’ language, understand the concept of solutions provision on a large scale while he/she spoke from their perspective on things.
Thus, the social media manager, a key part of modern-day operations of any brand that wishes to matter was born as the person in the shadows, communicating and solving problems.
That job description has grown in weight, responsibilities and skill requirement over the past nine years though as social media managers get more in-demand by the year because a good social media manager can single-handedly promote your brand without spending a dime on ads.
This is proven in the case of F Shaw (Tweets @FShawKingFisher), the erstwhile social media handler for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) who brought the body from the shadows to contemporary relevance.
He probably set the standard for what a social media manager should be in this day and age. In fact, since 2016 that he created viral tweets after another, brands have knowingly or unknowingly aspired to someone like him while searching for social media managers to get the job done.
Asides F Shaw, we have seen people social media pages both put out fire like bank and e-commerce social media handles do on a daily basis or create effortless brand promotion like Sterling Bank’s social media manager has done so far in 2018 with viral acts like the #BankWars or like the AS Roma English Twitter handle has done with its love for Nigeria.
With these successes, the standard for an efficient social media manager got set. The parameters are; creativity, being an effective conversationalist, being immersed in the brand he/she represents to have effective conversations and great attention to detail - especially on foremost conversations platform, Twitter, whose phone application permits having multiple accounts logged on simultaneously.
You simply cannot afford to pee the bed with your lack of meticulousness.
Apparently, the handlers of APC Governorship Aspirant, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Guinness Nigeria didn’t get that memo
While publicity, good or bad is anything you make it, some things are just bad and simply irresponsible; you simply cannot afford to make those mistakes. Even if you manage multiple Twitter accounts on your application, you must always know from which Twitter account you are tweeting from what when you represent a steadily followed brand.
The fact that brands seldom manage their own social media — especially Twitter — accounts is a truth we all know, but we still want to believe that whatever is being said represents the undiluted intentions of the brand owner. Thus, when a social media manager’s identity is revealed, there is this air of betrayal, especially when a handler is a controversial person or when controversial tweets are involved.
That was why staunch APC member, Ayobami Oyalowo also known as and tweets @Ayourb became a laughing stock when he apparently forgot to switch accounts on the morning of December 12, 2018. A tweet that seemed worded from the perspective of APC Governorship Aspirant, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was sent from his personal Twitter account, @Ayourb. He then deleted the tweet and sent the same Tweet from Sanwo-Olu’s purported Twitter account.
But as Twitter never forgets, people produced receipts in form of screenshots and voila, Ayourb was outed. He was simply negligent at his duty as a social media handler. You simply cannot afford to make that mistake.
Guinness Nigeria’s Twitter account handler ‘outshines’ Ayourb in the game of bloopers
As if that was not bad enough, in the thick of the Vice-Presidential debate which held on the night of December 14, 2018, the Guinness Nigeria Twitter account suddenly got involved in the political conversation and called someone who criticized PDP Vice Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi a “goat,” and here are the receipts;
From all indications, while we don’t know who this person is, it is arguable that he too forgot to switch accounts and intended to ‘goat’ another person from his personal twitter account. If not, why would an independent beverage company, owned by Diageo get involved in political discourse?
While private media companies get involved in political discourses, a beverage company has no business in or motive to get involved in such discourse. Even if a PDP member owns huge shares in Guinness Nigeria, letting Guinness Nigeria fight political battles will be ignorant and unnecessary. It’s not like a contract to supply stout to the Aso Rock or a lack thereof will affect Guinness’s year-end revenues in any way.
It then becomes clear that Guinness’s social media handler had a blooper and it doesn’t look good. It’s also worse than whatever Ayourb did, he has betrayed his brand and made a supposed independent body seem politically motivated. Its reputation has also been marred in a way.
Social media managers must do better
As noted earlier, one of the qualities of a good social media manager is a core understanding of the brand he represents and the type of conversations such brand must have.
It’s election season and political affiliations for brands can be both a blessing and a curse, but no brand needs the negative reputation of political alliance if it doesn’t directly benefit from such an alliance.
The reason is; Nigerians will treat you differently once they realize your political alliances or realize whose voice is behind a social media account.
While Sanwo-Olu’s account was previously accepted as the man’s voice in some quarters, any tweets from now will be judged off the sentiments of Ayourb. It’s bye-bye to whatever that account hopes to achieve. Rivals also have ammunition.
The Sanwo-Olu social media brand has taken a huge hit.
That said, businesses and most brands that don’t primarily benefit from political alliances, but from a market share, off great product and services to consumers should not be involved with political discourse except viral banter is involved.
Since social media managers represent brands on platforms where scrutiny is high, they simply cannot afford to have bloopers.
As conversations build during this election season and we all contribute our two cents to conversations, social media managers must be more responsible by understanding the conversations the brands they represent can get into.
More importantly, social media managers must separate private views from corporate views or opinions of a brand. They must also be meticulous that mistakes don’t betray this.
If that means constantly checking the account they tweet from, so be it. If your job requires your meticulous calmness, that you must do.
While Guinness Nigeria has since apologized for the major blooper, social media managers must do better during this election season.