Charlene Li Says My Job Shouldn't Exist

I don't know if anyone has noticed but I haven't been posting much lately. First I was away at ASAE's Great Ideas conference, where I presented a fun session with Lynn Morton "Choose Your Own Social Media Adventure" and participated in Maddie Grant's fun fishbowl session about social media managers. Not to mention attended some awesome sessions and socialized a lot. Then I wrote a guest post for SocialFishing about things you can do with a Facebook page. Then I did a presentation on social media engagement strategies for associations for the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents with Andy Steggles. Then I crashed.

Just when I was feeling like quite the social media mover and shaker, one of my heros, Charlene Li, took the wind right out of my sails.  The current issue Association Media & Publishing's magazine, Signature, features an interview with her where she states that my job (community & social media manager for an association) shouldn't exist. Unfortunately, I can't link to the article because you have to be a member to access it, which is too bad because it was a really good article--albeit kind of a downer for me. One of the questions the author poses in the piece is "How much time should an association allow its staff to spend listening in on social media sites?" Li answers that there are several good technologies that can help association staff easily follow conversations they need to hear in just a few minutes a day. She then adds "Another important point is for the association not to designate one person 'in charge of' participating in social media sites on behalf of the association. Everyone in the association should be listening in and following whatever conversations out there that pertain to their job and expertise."

Yikes. Mind you, this is not the first time someone has made the case that having one person "do" social media for a company is not a good idea. Even I have blogged about it before. All the same, it's not the kind of thing you want to read when you're forging a career in social media. I mean, if you think about it, isn't the ultimate mark of a social media manager's success that he or she's done the job so well that he/she's no longer needed?

Then again, if you're going to be a social media manager, maybe the association world is a pretty good place to be, because it's going to be a long, LONG time before social becomes something everyone is willing to accept responsibility for.