Back in the old days when “integrated marketing” execution was decidedly weighted with more print, outdoor, TV, and direct than web portals or online advertisements, the full service agency I worked for had its own information group bundled under the IT department. It was the mid-90’s, and we still had budgets for employee training, annual raises, and early-out Fridays.
The information group consisted of two staff librarians and one support person. In retrospect, their roles may have seen a little extravagant (very “agency” like–you’ve read the rants about inflated professional rates) to some. But my firsthand experience with the knowledgeable Jo Pearson all those years ago leads me to know otherwise. The work the librarian did was as much a tactical necessity as it was fundamental knowledge development. And I think today’s social media managers and content planners/developers need to take lessons from yesterday’s staff librarians.
image courtesy IGN
Library science is an interdisciplinary field that applies the practices, perspectives, and tools of management, information technology and education. It focuses on the collection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information resources, and the political economy of information. May also include how information resources are organized to serve the needs of select user groups.—Wikipedia
Jo saved my keister more than once when our big mobile phone client wanted detailed information about a market (she often worked in tandem with the staff media planners who helped create segments and profiles of customers). She also made sure we regularly fed our minds so that we could add insight to deliver greater value to our clients.
Sometimes that meant sending over an enlightening article from an obscure publication (the old-school version of the Share This button). Other times it meant culling data from several subscription-only databases to validate a proposed idea and “sell it in.” As an eager young account manager, it also meant getting smarter about business concepts and sharpening my competitive edge by checking out book after book at Jo’s recommendation.
The information caretaker
As the role of social media manager evolves, I think information – the acquisition, cataloging, funneling, and sharing of it – will play a more central role in the job, maybe looking something like this:
I imagine some social media managers, like community managers, are already doing some of the things outlined in the right hand column. But I suspect results would be stronger if methods were codified and people from cross-functional teams helped identify challenges, issues, and needs that often exist in pockets within an organization.
What do you think about this idea of an “information backbone” to the social media manager role? Does it exist already? Am I making it more complicated than it needs to be? Holla.
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