A few months ago, The New York Times instituted a new policy: they made their reporters available for comment. It’s unusual for a large company to put their employees “out there” in that way, and groundbreaking to mandate that semi-famous (and even flat-out famous) people—hello, David Pogue—be that available.

I was impressed then, and thanks to this blog post, I’m even more impressed now. The New York Times has eliminated the position of Social Media Manager.

I’ve never seen a better example of why Search Engine Optimization matters to Business Change.

As the author of that post pointed out, The Times realized that it isn’t really practical—or even possible—for someone to be “in charge” of their social media policy. There are just too many variables.

Think about the ramifications of having one person to decide, teach, and police the social media and social networking activities of everyone at your company. The only part of social media that can be “taught” in a cogent and cohesive way is the Cover-Your-Behind stuff. And let’s face it: lawyers don’t teach, they lock down. As soon as you  “manage” your social media in a top down kind of way it stops being social.

So assuming you aren’t going to manage this issue by just not doing social media and social networking at all, you’re left with two choices:

  1. Everybody Into The Pool
  2. The Pool Is Closed.

And #2 isn’t an option. Miss this business change and I promise: a few years from now you won’t have a business to change.

Enter SEO Consulting.

Search Engine Optimization is about driving traffic to your web site. So is Social Media and Social Networking. But without SEO, the social stuff eventually becomes just so much noise. Your web site will be busy, but unless your only goal is lots of traffic, as a media company might see things, that’s not good enough.

You need to manage how people get to you, and what they see when they arrive. Volumes of surfers is a start. Search Engine Optimization is actual progress toward a goal.

By all means: fire your social media manager. And then, hire an expert in Search Engine Optimization.

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