Why Social Media Is A Fulltime Job

Many financial institutions delving into social media simply shovel the additional workload on top of the existing marketing staff’s responsibilities.

Reality Check: Even if your marketing department has the experience to pull it off, they are probably already stretched thin and don’t have the time.

It’s very easy to underestimate the amount of time and energy it takes to create any kind of success in the social media space. Just to run a blog, it take a bare minimum of five hours a week, and more realistically 10-20 hours. Add another five or so hours a week for Twitter. If you run promotions, or integrate video into your social media initiatives, the hours really start to balloon.

now-hiringHere’s something to keep in mind. A couple of days ago, the Washington Post reported about the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s approach to social media.  After two years of intensive efforts to boost its Facebook profile through social networking and hiring two full-time people, the breast cancer cause had acquired only 135 fans.

Reality Checks:

  • You can’t just hope to put a few hours a week into your social media projects and expect any kind of success.
  • Social media may be free, but it isn’t easy. There are no short cuts. Just like with anything else, you get out of it what you put into it.
  • If you’re going to take social media seriously, you need a new, full-time position.

Smart financial institutions are hiring this person months prior to launching their social media projects in order to have them (and their expertise) on board during the development phase.

This person could be called an “Online Community Manager,” “Director of Online Marketing” or a “Social Media Manager.” Whatever titles are used, expect to see more financial institutions hiring these kinds of people in coming years.

There is perhaps no better illustration of this than a recent Fifth Third Bank ad for a new Social Media Strategist position. The Cincinnati bank is looking for someone to “unleash the marketing potential locked within everyday conversations about our brand.”

The bank’s help-wanted ad outlines the position in great detail, a blend of both tactical skills and strategic acumen. On one hand, the candidate must have direct experience with social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. On the other hand, the applicant should possess “a strategic vision of the social media landscape and a game plan to infuse social media best practices across all aspects of the business.”

Fifth Third Bank – Social Media Strategist

Essential Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Oversee and manage program and project development from definition through delivery including indentifying key measures of success.
  • Develop ROI models around Social Media engagement and prioritize projects based upon a solid business case as well as determine guidelines for evaluating benefits and risks for certain Social Media engagements.
  • Translate business strategy into applicable interactive experiences that drive business results and meet business and user goals.
  • Be the primary interactive marketing point of contact for assigned key initiatives.
  • Work with various management teams to gain appropriate input and buy-in on social networking strategies and execution.
  • Serve as primary content developer for brand and corporate social media sites including Twitter and Facebook.
  • Develop corporate blog strategies and write or review Line of Business blog posts.
  • Monitor trends in social media tools and applications and appropriately apply that knowledge to increasing the use of social media.
  • Obtain appropriate regulatory and compliance approval for all social networking endeavors.
  • Ensure that all social networking strategies are compliant with brand regulations.
  • Supervise integration of efforts among external partners (advertising agency, digital/direct agency).
  • Work to ensure consistent messaging between advertising and internally produced communications.
  • Stay current with new social media sites, platforms and emerging technologies.
  • Manage program costs, scope and schedule.


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, Business, communications, journalism, English or related field, and/or equivalent work-related experience.
  • A minimum of 3 years experience in interactive marketing; 5 years experience as a professional communicator.
  • Experience sourcing and managing content development and publishing for social networking functions.
  • A passion for social media marketing and other inbound marketing strategies.
  • Excellent written and communication skills.
  • Experience with social media, SEM and SEO.
  • Expertise in writing and maintaining a blog.
  • Self-motivated and able to manage multiple takes and priorities within specified time frames.

Jeffry PilcherDon't miss The Financial Brand Forum 2019, the biggest and fastest-growing annual conference for senior-level executives in the banking industry. Join 2,000+ of the best and brightest in banking April 15-17, 2019 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Banks and credit unions that register now save $1,105.00 and pay nothing until next year!

This article was originally published on January 12, 2010. All content © 2018 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.


  1. Amen! I’ve come across many bloggers in the CU blogosphere who are quick to assume that CU marketers ‘don’t get’ social media or accuse us of ‘doing it wrong’. The truth is, where I work, we have to make do with the resources we have — a staff of three with a limited budget. I’d love to hire someone to do social media full time, but that’s not going to happen this year. Until then, we do what we can!

  2. Right on. The key is to get the right person who has the insight and savvy to do all of this. Social media is so new everyone is still learning. Creativity plays a big part in the mix also.

  3. I agree that social media is something financial services need to give time and budgets to. If people are curious about how to get a social media presence started White Horse is doing a webinar about Digital Marketing/Social Media Marketing for Financial Services. It is called “Top 10 for 2010 Digital Marketing for Financial Services” It show viewers how to create brand loyalist using social media and increase your ROI.
    It may give those of us with small marketing departments ideas for the 2010 social media campaigns.

    Register here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/343197896

    Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about social media for financial services.

  4. You hit the nail right on the head. Those trying to use social media for their business have to understand that this is a full time job. Not to mention, it’s a PROCESS and takes PATIENCE. Like anything, you can’t expect overnight success. You have to work hard. I think businesses should start hiring someone directly for social media. I wonder if that will ever be done?

  5. Thanks for your comment Frank. You bring up two excellent points. It is a process — one that you must constantly be adjusting and refining. It also takes patience. You are not likely to hit a home run on your first attempt.

  6. I was amazed by that stat on the Susan B. Komen Foundation and did a search for it on Facebook, thinking that if they can’t get fans, how can a bank? It says there that they have over 152,905 fans. However, it comes up with 135 search results (perhaps where that number came from?).

  7. I like most of the articles on this site and read regularly, but I disagree on quite a few points in this article.

    I think that defining what you want to get out of your social media presence and what sites you will focus on up front will allow you to accurately determine the resources needed to meet the goals of your FI.

    If you’re thinking big (blog, facebook page, facebook ads, twitter, yelp, youtube, myspace, and other channels) you’re going to need proportionate resources. If you not going for the gusto (facebook page, facebook ads, twitter) and keeping it manageable, you probably can get by without adding a FTE.

    To say “You can’t just hope to put a few hours a week into your social media projects and expect any kind of success” is just leading people astray. If the objectives are clearly defined, content mapped out, and procedures developed up front, a few hours per week will be all is needed to ensure the site still feels fresh to fans.

    Social media is not new, it’s new to banks. I think that is a distinction that needs to be made. I have been on facebook since mid 2004 when it was still thefacebook.com. I’m no expert, but I have made many fan pages and educated many people about the site in that time and none of it has really taken much time at all… Now if you want to have a presence on many sites or keep people visiting your page on a daily basis, you will need more resources. I would argue that not many people are going to visit their bank’s facebook page (or other social media site) everyday (just almost) regardless of what you do.

    Things you can do to slim resources:
    – Put the time in up front (specifically in development. Measure twice, cut once)
    – Set goals and expectations (awareness & visibility? drive business? service channel?)
    – Develop clear procedures
    – Develop a policy for all employees
    – Develop your compliance strategy (hint: start with your online advertising compliance procedures)
    – Outline appropriate content for the end owner
    – Integrate social media into your overall marketing plan
    – Make sure your approach is a good fit for your FI

    Remember, social media did not come to us from another planet and the users are not little green men. You probably have experts (or at least power users) already on staff and don’t know it.


  8. Fair enough Ian. You are absolutely right that the first step in any social media initiative should be to define your objectives.

    Setting up and running a Facebook page is only one possible social media venue, and you’re right: Running a basic Facebook page isn’t a ton of work. If your objective is to merely “keep it manageable” by simply “ensuring the site still feels fresh to fans,” then you can cruise through smoothly with no additional resources. If you want to grow your fan base measurably, that takes more time. If you want to integrate promotions, that takes more time. And if you want to add Twitter, or do something on YouTube, or host a blog, the hours pile up.

    You’re right, financial institutions probably do have “experts” or “power users” on staff already. But how much free time do they have? If you have someone sitting around today with 5-20 hours to spare, then sure, you don’t need any help and can make it work without a new FTE. Also note that a full-time social media position does not mean you have to hire someone specifically for social media. You can tap the “expert power user” already on staff for this position, then hire a new employee to replace them.

    Like I said, you get out of it what you put into it. People seem to have the expectation that social media gives you some sort of leverage that yields relatively more impact/results for less time/energy. Not true.

    The main point is that every social media tool takes time, and each one your financial institution wants to adopt increases the odds that you need a new FTE. You may be able to run one or two social media tools with moderate success. But you probably cannot run three or more social media platforms effectively with the staff you have today (if you can, that means — in all likelihood — that you were overstaffed.)

    Please note: This article wasn’t intended to be a comprehensive primer on social media. The article didn’t suggest nor imply that social media is something new and radical from outer space. The focus of the article deals exclusively with manpower and resources. We could have had this exact same conversation 10+ years ago about websites. Certainly websites at first were not that tough to manage, and therefore there were no FTEs with titles like “Website Manager.” But today, many/most financial institutions have a FTE whose sole responsibility is the website.

    Social media FTEs aren’t a reality for every financial institution today…yet.

  9. Arvest is hiring a fulltime Social Media Marketing Specialist.

    SUMMARY: The Social Media Marketing Specialist is responsible for leading research, strategy and implementation of marketing strategies in the emerging forms of paid digital/online media and social media inclusion. This includes leveraging social media platforms, search marketing and other digital marketing tactics to communicate Arvest’s products and brand story.

    ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES include the following. Other duties may be assigned.

    Oversee the production and implementation of organic search engine optimization and search engine marketing campaigns and establish a consistent measurement system for evaluating program success

    Oversee the production and implementation of social media campaigns and establish a consistent measurement system for evaluating program success.

    Partner with agency and social media publishers as needed to develop communications strategy & executions around key Arvest brand efforts.

    Responds to approved requests of banks and subsidiaries regarding web advertising and promotional goals.

    Stay current with latest technologies and advancements and look for opportunities to further the Arvest business in a profitable manner.

    Develop unique ways to use media dollars to connect with customers on social media forums.

    Formulates and communicates new ideas and suggestions that will enhance operations and profitability of the organization.

  10. Well put Jeff. My intention was not to challenge your perspective, but to highlight that by defining the scope (and expectations) of a social media presence so that it is scaled to the FI’s size, sophistication, and resources any FI can dip their toe into social media. I just wouldn’t want an institution to shy away from this project because they cannot justify the resources on day 1.

    I work for a mid-sized institution ($1.1B in assets) and we tend to like to walk before we run on most new initiatives. I think a lot of smaller and mid-sized FI’s share this philosophy when it comes to change. I’m not saying that it’s the best philosophy, but it is a common reality that we need to acknowledge. If my CEO asks for a ROI on social media, I do not know if I could provide it in a “dollars & cents” format yet. I might get more pushback from the executive level if I came out with a strategy that required a FTE from the get go. I’d rather see the initiative get off the ground and develop, then as the program expands (as with your website analogy), seek an FTE at a future point in time.

    I believe that there is no “one size fits all” approach to social media as the strategy, expectations, approach, and resources will be fairly unique for each FI.


  11. Christopher Morris says:

    Nailed it.

  12. Maybe I don’t get it – but I don’t ever see Social Media Strategist as a stand-alone position. Social media is not a campaign. It’s a communication tool. It’s a space we cannot and should not seek to control. At some level it’s a discipline that marketing needs to learn. That of listening rather than always dominating the conversation.

    The Fifth Third job description wants the person to:

    Develop ROI models around Social Media engagement and prioritize projects based upon a solid business case as well as determine guidelines for evaluating benefits and risks for certain Social Media engagements.

    Seriously? HR wrote this. They used the wheel of words to say nothing.

    What’s the ROI on social media? What’s the ROI on talking? Listening? Thinking? I think as soon as we departmentalize social media we’re screwed.

    Companies like Fifth Third may be wired for business – but they still struggle with how to communicate WITH consumers. Asking someone to be a fan of your bank is embarrassing. If someone truly is a fan of your bank, they’ll use their own social media tools (voice) to spread the word. We need to focus on giving people something positive to talk about….where’s THAT job description?

  13. I echo Christopher’s comments. Denise, you nailed it. I was a banker for 15 years and the past 2 years have been consulting in the “internet” and digital marketing space, mostly for community banks. I have had the opportunity to speak at a few state association meetings on the topic of social media and most of the C-level executives that drive the decision making process for their banks are concerned more about what they can’t do, regulations, the “pissed off” customer posting comments to an un-moderated blog, etc…

    Many, and this is understandable given the economic times we are in today, are managing by fear and simply trying to keep the doors open and survive another Friday. I hear it all too often that they think having a blog or doing something online to engage with their customers would be a good idea, but they simply “don’t the time”. Additionally, all too often the “typical” banking industry folks are missing the boat on using social media (which is really just another means of communicating) to spread the word on the good they do, the realities of the industry and to build relationships with their customers (or members, if you’re a credit union).

    They have become, in my opinion, comfortable talking “to” their customers from a one-way website or maybe a blog (with comments turned off) and not really looking to engage and talk “with” the folks that are either doing business with them now, or giving it consideration. Until there is some acceptance on what social media really is, what it can do and what the requirements from both a time and money resource perspective, any organization simply won’t “get it” when it comes to communicating online. What if we didn’t have the “time” to answer the phone open the mail or respond to e-mail?

    Customers that use these methods as their preferred means of communication would become frustrated, possibly try another way to get in touch with you, but in the end likely would leave and find someone else that’s willing to listen. I’m not sure where that tipping point is in the banking industry, but I suspect at some point this is going to become all of our reality and will be just one more way we’ll all be expected to keep in touch. If not, the customers will simply go someplace else…

  14. The Financial Webinar I posted about earlier is now ready for download. So if you missed the actual webinar you can download it here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/343197896

  15. Denise,

    I think the ROI for Social Networking sites could come in the form of click throughs to the bank’s main website which end up as an opened account. However, this depends upon the strategy set forth by the FI. If it’s a service strategy (like BofA on Twitter) this will clearly be calculated differently (efficiencies of scale as customers are not in branch or clogging the call center).

    Developing a “fan page” for a bank provides customers a location for customers to discuss items related to your FI…Think of it as providing them a place to post if they actually want you to listen (they may not want that if their goal is to bash you behind your back). Social media is so huge that we will never be able to “control” it 100% (no matter how many resources are devoted). We can only hope to manage aspects of it what yield the best ROI, as determined by us.

    I agree that it does not need to be a full time job, but I think determining ROI and objectives up front are important success factors.


  16. Ian,

    Thanks for keeping this conversation going. I understand what the purpose of a “fan page” is, I just cannot imagine a scenario where it makes sense for the object of the proposed affection to initiate it. Do you have an Ian fan page? Do you invite people to become your fan? See how icky that feels?

    The web is group bricolage. Individuals build it without working from a master plan. Once you try to control it, you’ve missed it. And you will stand alone, waiting for click throughs….and determining the ROI just isn’t there….

  17. Facebook called corporate profiles “fan pages.” Was it a good choice on their part?

  18. B of A has a fan page with 1,512 fans. and no recent posts (insert cricket noise)

    On the other hand USAA has 50,627 fans and posts daily.

    USAA also leads the nation in Net Promoter Score. These are REAL fans, not manufactured fans. The Facebook page facilitated a conversation that was already there.

    I’m sure B of A is measuring click-throughs – an active of hubris.

  19. Shoot – I meant to say “an act of hubris” because that’s today’s word and I wanted to use it in a sentence.

  20. Who created USAA’s fan page? USAA? Or the fans?

  21. Facebook created the page. USAA set it up but the fans made it legitimate.

  22. What about the possibility of FIs outsourcing some of there SM efforts to a partner who is an expert in this stuff. We have seen some FIs we work with try to bring social media in house only to struggle (as social media seems to become the red headed step child) and end up asking for help. It takes a crap load of time to manage a blog and produce good content.

    I preach all the time that while SM tools are free… there is a real investment of time to create and manage content. I find a lot of people just don’t get that.

    In regards of the FB fan page, too many times there is a “Field of Dreams” mentality. If we build it… they will come. BS! Credit unions ask all the time what can we do to get more members on FB (only fans are employees and other CUs). I take a look at the page and it was a month since the last post that happened to be about the latest rate promotion. I then ask them… would you become a fan of your credit union if all they posted were promotional material once a month. Then you see it in their eyes that they are thinking and a light begins to click.
    @Denise – nice use of the word of the day 🙂

  23. James – Good point about utilizing a third-party social media partner.

    Whether creating a new FTE or outsourcing, odds are that financial institutions do not have currently have the available manpower required to make a significant social media commitment.

  24. Thx for the note Jeffrey. My thought is that it is better to hold off on entering the social media waters than to jump off the deep end and possibly drown. Planning and strategy are a must.

  25. @JamesRobertWLay (not junior, now I know).

    I would love to help credit unions with their social media efforts. I think it would be akin to a celebrity having a “handler.” Constantly gaging reactions to decisions made. You make a bad decision (like charging members to talk to a live person) it shows up on our radar (reputation). NPS could be your compass, social media is your telescope.

    Oh, that was pretty good. I gotta go write that down…….

  26. When all this first started creating buzz about a year or two ago, people thought they would throw a few sticks of dynamite in the water and wait for the fish to rise to the top. The problem is the water they’re throwing their ammo into is more like the Pacific Ocean versus a small pond. If your ammo (i.e. content) isn’t compelling, then all you do online is a waste of time. So when hiring this “social media manager”, make sure they know how to craft compelling content as well. The next problem is making sure the content remains compliant.

  27. Denise,

    I don’t have an “Ian fan page”…but I do have an Ian page… Jeff poses an interesting question on if the term “fan page” was a wise choice by FB… While I don’t think it is the best word choice, I think it works… I am a fan of a few businesses on Facebook, not all that I shop at, but only those I think are special…. The business owners made the pages and manage the content (some better than others). Up until now, as a consumer, I never thought twice about it being odd that they were creating a “fan page” for themselves.

    It still doesn’t really bother me. Hey, someone’s got to do it!…We’re not all blessed to have fan clubs like Michael Jackson and the other mega celebrities. We’re got to do what we can to get our message out and sometimes that means taking the initiative.

    Interesting posts here today. Thanks!

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