If you’ve started your own social media program, you’re ahead of millions of other companies. Kudos to you. But it’s a reflective path. The most recurrent question we get is “what are the tools you recommend?” Give them a hammer … everything looks like a nail. Tell them ‘blogging’ and they mostly melt. Whether you hire an ‘expert’ to give you all the keys to social media or you believe that your marketing department can actually integrate these activities into your existing public relationship framework, it mostly becomes another thing to do in the day.
Over the last few years developing and managing social media programs, we have had, of course, some customers who have said: “that’s it, we understand what you’re doing, we’ll integrate this back in house” … guess what? They mostly fail. Social Media tools and ‘copy paste’ behaviors will not solve the ultimate reason why social media is ripping through business and friendly communication. A social media strategy is integrated with every bridge you build between people and vice-versa. The ‘heat‘ is what I believe is a deep cultural change within a company and its constituency. Social media champions are the humanizers of a company and its constituents. Take every chance to make a warm connection. It’s easier than it looks. You know who actually has value in your community eco-system.
So what are social media agencies (most :)) good at?
- Augmenting your social media intelligence and bring best practices to ramp up quicker and avoid pitfalls or an all too common waste of energy.
- Bringing the constituent voice out: It’s not about you or your brand (rant…). Too often, I read a post starting like “here at ‘brand name’ we blah blah blah….bam! you just lost 50% of your readers right there. If they come to your blog or your facebook fan page, teach them something. Make it worth their while. Your discount coupons maybe creating some instant buzz, but they suck at creating a meaningful relationship with your constituents.
- Perfectly geared to be an outsourced journalist for your brand: Marketing departments are good at creating ‘case studies’; they do less well at bringing conversation. The most enlightened companies actually learn to let the message go…because it’s not about the message. It’s about curating and creating great content which empowers the user or customer. It’s a lot easier to craft these stories from outside of the company.
- Helping identify and build relationships with who matters: Inside the community (the best fans or just finding the right followers) and outside (influencers, bloggers, journalists, independent writers)…
- Looking outside the marketing department: All too often, marketing is in plain control and it’s becoming one of their channels. Social media is NOT another advertising channel and an agency can help foster conversation with the constituency, including other departments or locations inside the company.
- Navigating the new media landscape: We used to have paid media, now we more like five ways to make use of media according to Brian Solis: Earned media, owned media, paid media, participatory media & sponsored media.
- Providing the Social Media Glue: Most of all, a social media agency is here to glue all the pieces together. It starts with a coherent publishing strategy, taking into account the constituents and moving into fostering community engagement inside and outside (PR 2.0).
Sounds easy doesn’t it? Then let’s make it the top 100 list of best companies to use social media!