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.
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!
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?
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 Social, Pam 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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