Social Media Marketing Experts Or Amateurs?

Why should you care about social media?

The rapid rise in social media over the last few years has given business owners some pretty exciting tools to connect with their customers.  Social media presents huge opportunities for dialogue in a global market where discussion, sharing information and exchanging ideas contributes to building better and longer lasting relationships with customers.

Who can you trust?

It has also produced a whole new wave of ‘social media marketing experts’ (SMME) or ‘social media managers’ (SMM) willing to be the voice of your business and take control of your social media strategy.

Social media manager with gag

While some SMM’s will prove themselves adept in managing your business campaigns with social cohesion, it still remains intangible for them to become the ‘voice’ of your business.  There has been a lot of debate over this as business owners scream long and loud “You’re crazy if you think I have time to twitter all day”.

With changes in the Internet happening at the speed of light, finding a SMM today is an interesting proposition. There is no code to follow so you need to be sure when casting your eye around to fill this role that you ask the right questions to ensure you get the right answers.  It is essential you confirm they are fully up to date with the increasing speed of changes in the social media landscape…

Beware the amateurs and the damage they can do!

Take a look at how this ‘voice’ of the business went seriously wrong:

You may be willing to hand over the “voice” and reputation of your business to a SMM company who knows nothing about your business.  Within a matter of hours your business is  let loose in the hands of some rookie sitting somewhere in a room full of thirty or forty people in their early 20’s working on commission and claiming to be versed and trained in the art of social media – its bollocks!

Is it a good idea to outsource social media?

How they can even start to get a handle on how your business or any other business operates is beyond me when you are one of hundreds of companies being offered a monthly package with a ‘one size fits all plan.’   You don’t have to look far on any of the social media platforms to recognise some of the accounts they handle and what a dismal job they are doing.

It may seem like an easy option to hand over the tricky job of understanding and using social media to a SMM company.  However, at best you will be ignored, at worst you will effectively damage your online brand and reputation by looking inept!

So… back to square one then?

You can’t afford to ignore the mighty social media giants because you don’t understand how social media works or because you won’t invest the time to learn this stuff.

You are missing a golden opportunity to engage with your customers to share insights, educate and advise and promote your business by building long term relationships and connecting with literally thousands of potential customers on a personal and informal level.

The best way to think about social media is to liken it to a business networking event.  You are not there to sell things, you are there to make new contacts and find people you may want to collaborate with in the future.  Except social media is networking on steroids!

What other form of marketing gives you the opportunity to build relationships with thousands of potential clients, referrers, collaborators, advocates and thought leaders?

What about getting the new girl to do it? She’s on Facebook isn’t she?

I can still hear you saying  – “I can get one of our young members of the staff to do social media – they use Facebook and Twitter all the time – they know how it works”.

Just because you have a young staff member who has grown up using Facebook (in their personal life) doesn’t mean that he or she can transfer that knowledge into the business world and manage and implement your online communities successfully.  A few years back when social media was in its infancy and people were still experimenting and getting use to how this new phenomena played out, this would have worked… but not now!

If not, then who?

The voice of your business needs to be many things and when you pass the mantle over to your preferred representative they must speak with passion and integrity about your business and brand.  They have to  enjoy discussing ideas, sharing information, engaging with followers and attending to comments and questions in a friendly and helpful manner.

The art of social media is all about building long term relationships, offering knowledge, engaging and connecting with your audience – all of these need to be reflected in your daily tweets, shares, conversations – and you won’t get this from some rookie in a back room.

The role of social media management should be in the training, encouraging and monitoring of the ongoing performance of the designated person or people trusted with this important responsibility.

OK, but does it work?

Here’s a case study where true ‘authentic helpfulness’ had amazing outcomes using social media.

When you are next approached by a company offering social media management – ask yourself these questions.

  • Who knows your business best?
  • Who knows your ideal customer best?
  • Who knows and cares most about your products or services?
  • Who is the most passionate advocate for your business?

It could be the business owner, Marketing Manager, Business Development Manager or another key member.

Then look at the approach from the SMM company.

Have they talked about how they will get a comprehensive understanding of your business?  Have they talked about the key member of your staff who they will work with on this long term project?

Or…

Have they thrown lots of figures around about the number of people on Facebook, number of Youtube video views and so on to impress you with their data?  Have they talked about how many status updates you will get for your money on a weekly basis?

I know which Social Media company I would be talking to!

Having said all of this there are plenty of areas where a ‘social media manager’ can be a tremendous asset to your business in the planning, strategizing and implementation of a social media campaign.

A big tip here:

When you are looking to engage a social media manager or strategist, have a good look at their own social media efforts and see if they are “walking the talk”!

Check out their profile, the number of followers they have, the level of engagement with influential social media users, what sort of information they share and if they are up to date with some of the big social media sites like Mashable, Social Media Examiner, Social Mouths, Social Media Today, Pushing SocialPam The Marketing Nut,  Businesses Grow and other authoritative blogs.

If your SMM doesn’t have his/her finger on the pulse and is not sharing ground breaking news from around  the social media world, you will miss the many opportunities available to keep your business connected with customers in your local communities and internationally.

In his book, The End of Business as Usual, Brian Solis cautions that businesses that embrace and adapt to the revolution will survive the perpetual threat of digital Darwinism—and those that do not will die!

Have you had any experience with rogue social media management?

Leave a comment with your thoughts or talk to me on Twitter!

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About Midge Hand
Midge is a co-founder of High Profile Enterprises and loves social media management and building powerful online brands for businesses of all sizes. Midge has a penchant for keyword research, especially uncovering those hard to find gold nuggets! When Midge is offline, you will find her experimenting with new recipes, in the garden, or watching a great film while relaxing with a good French red! Follow Midge On Twitter Here

Comments

  1. Some really good insights here. And I agree that it should be done by the person who really understand your business and who’s better than someone’s from one’s own workforce. And at the end of day a social media campaign without proper roadmap, strategy, monitoring and relationship building is another way of doing right things the wrong way!
    Thank you sharing this wonderful article.

    • Thanks for your comment Nikhil – you are so right!
      Any area of business needs to have a roadmap and particularly social media as ‘everyone is an expert’!
      Glad you enjoyed the post.

      All the best
      Midge

  2. Another fantastic article Midge.

    I have heard some horror stories from clients who don’t know social media but know they need to be participating, and so have outsourced only to find their company ‘voice’ is screaming the wrong notes.

    In an age where much of our image is perceived by the written word I think the best thing for any company looking for assistance with their social media marketing is as you stated, see how they are representing themselves online – and ask which businesses they are also representing.

    Ask around, word of mouth and referrals are more powerful than as people reach for the human connection.

    • Thanks Justine,

      Your comment about ‘people reach for the human connection’ got me thinking.
      It’s interesting in the online world we work in where our image is perceived by the written word.
      I think it makes us want the human connection and trust factor even more as a lot of people are still fearful of the Web.
      As anyone can say anything but the proof is in the pudding.
      Cheers
      Midge

  3. Do you think all companies have room for social? I have worked in b2b for the last ten years and I never really cracked it, i think its hard to get people other than business owners to be genuinely interested in social aspects of b2b marketing?

    • Hi Sash,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
      Yes, I do think all business should make room for social – it’s not going away so they may as well get on board now or get let behind.
      You only have to look around at all the success stories to see when it’s managed in a strategic way with buy in from the key members of a business how effective it can be.
      Cheers
      Midge

  4. Hi Sash,

    yes i agree with midge, even small businesses uses social media.

    • Hi Dave,
      Thanks for your comment. I think small businesses benefit hugely from social media.
      Particularly as often it is the small business owner who doesn’t have a lot of marketing budget, so the social arena is perfect.
      It does however take time and commitment.

      Regards
      Midge

  5. Great post Midge. I do believe that one could be trained to be a social media manager. This could even be done long distance.

    • Hi Neil,
      Thanks for taking the time to read my post and leaving a comment.
      I think that anyone with tenacity and commitment can be trained for almost any role.
      A social medial manager taking on this role for a business would need to be fully versed in business etiquette and totally know the business inside out.
      This would enable them to comment, interact, promote, engage, share and everything else that is so necessary on this platform.

      Cheers
      Midge

  6. Since reading this and making my above comment i am coming back to vent!

    The people in this field really dont seem to know what they are doing, there are agencies that I have contacted and the people in them know so little about how to run a sensible social campaign that it really upsets me. They are clueless, however, as they are from an agency my manager always hears them out and takes their opinions on board where as mine are dismissed.

    I cannot understand why I have a call with an agency, i tell the people their my ideas, they write them down and present them to our board of directors and get the go ahead to work on them?

    • Hi Sash,

      I can understand your frustration – you should be the one getting the credit for taking the time to understand how social media works.
      Why not try presenting a ‘proposal’ to your employer in a format that he would have to take notice of.
      I had a similar situation happen to me several years ago and I overcame it by research and putting a paper together.
      I then requested a meeting where I presented my paper formally.
      Let your employer know you are serious.

      All the best
      Midge

  7. Very good tips! For a small business owner, I would always say that it is better if they learn to use Social Media themselves. When they learn to use it effectively it will only take a few minutes each day for them to manage it. But if they want to get someone else do it for them, they should ask for a concrete plan the person/company is going to undertake for his/her campaign based on inputs from him/herself.

    • Hi Reese,

      You have a very good understanding of how social works! If the business is unable to be responsible for managing social media for their business then the next best thing is a delegate who is passionate and committed to work this platform, that requires consistency and a good strategy.
      Thanks for your comment – much appreciated.
      Cheers
      Midge

  8. I think the best person who can be responible for your company’s social media world is yourself as an owner of the company. The reasons are: you can trust yourself to do best you can, you are passionate about your business and you know how to sell yourself (your services). Thanks, good post!

    • Hi Martin,

      You hit the nail on the head! Who esle know (who care) about your business more than the owner themselves.
      Thanks for stopping by.

      All the best
      Midge

  9. You really made your point in this post. In the end, we should not let someone not directly involved in the company to be in charge of the social media marketing. The best option is to get a business insider to collaborate with a social media expert. This will make sure that both areas are covered.

    • Hi Billy,

      Glad you enjoyed my post. Collaboration, knowledge and a planned strategy is the way to go with social medial.
      Thanks for taking the time to make comment.
      Cheers
      Midge

  10. Great insights Midge – there is nothing more infuriating than dealing with a company who tells you what your business does … what sets someone apart from the rest of the self proclaimed “experts” is someone who can respect that, and work with the business owner to achieve their vision!

  11. Its all about ROI. With not many metrics available & everyone claiming to a social media expert, its a dangerous territory for most. I believe there is no harm in setting aside a small budget & testing a few things yourself, to have an idea what to expect & how from your “Social Media Expert” (pun intended).

    • That’s a good option to test social media, slow and steady, see what works and what doesn’t!
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.
      All the best
      Midge

  12. Very good tips! For a small business owner, I would always say that it is better if they learn to use Social Media themselves. When they learn to use it effectively it will only take a few minutes each day for them to manage it. Thank you for sharing.

    • You’ve got it Bery! Once you get an understanding of it and practice how to use it, it becomes second nature.
      Keep up the good work. Thanks for commenting.
      Midge

  13. It doesn’t sound complicated. But SMM can be a pain in the ass if you do not know what you are doing. I myself have experienced handling my own business’s social media marketing. Your article is a great help for starters.

    • Hi JP,

      Always best for the business owner to handle social media themselves or a staff member who is really connected and enthusiastic about social media.Thanks for stopping by.
      All the best
      Midge

  14. Facebook seems to be the reigning website of social media. While they keep making changes, a lot of these changes seem to be for the better. For instance, Facebook pages now has Facebook Insights which allows you to track your fans participation and interaction with your website.

    • Hi Elena,

      Facebook is introducing changes frequently and seems to be the most popular social media platform. It’s absolutely necessary to keep up with social media changes and adjust your marketing stragegy to algin with these. Thanks for your comment.
      Midge

  15. “Just because you have a young staff member who has grown up using Facebook (in their personal life) doesn’t mean that he or she can transfer that knowledge into the business world and manage and implement your online communities successfully. ” Excellent point! This is a general misconception many of us have today, in my opinion.

    • Hello Alethia,

      Yes it is a good point and one that people are not realising how important it is for the business owner to be the face/voice of the business.
      Thanks for taking the time to make a comment.
      Cheers
      Midge

  16. Great share Midge , ya social media provide us a large support especially in promoting out products , really an insightful article to read. Thanks for sharing

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