Small business owners and managers are facing the question of “Who should manage our company’s social media presence?” with increasing puzzlement. If you are one of them, don’t feel bad about it.
First, you are not the only one who feels a bit lost in this subject. Second, the discussions you can find regarding to this matter are confusing indeed.
Ultimately, the question boils down to content creation. More accurately, relevant content creation. What you call relevant is dependent on what you are talking about, who you are talking to and when you are talking.
Let’s just take a bit of an extreme example in order to make the it easier to nail down this problem. Boys love to talk about cars, no matter what age they are. Nonetheless, a six year old kid might not only be interested in different aspects of the same subject, but he would also go into a different level of details and expect a different interpretation than his sixty year old uncle. Women might be attracted to conversations about cars too, but the statistical probability that they would be equally interested in the number of valves, horsepower and engine management technology is extremely low. Talk about color, finishing touches or the vacation you’d take with that new car and you’ll see their eyes getting wider.
Adversely, it would be difficult to engage most men with an in-depth discussion over the technical aspects of that beautiful pink purse`s zipper. Would the same audience (i.e. men) be interested however, in how they can bring a smile to their significant other`s face by selecting the best matching purse? Of course, they would! So, just as much you can interact with ladies on cars, you can talk about pink purses with men. The path would be markedly different though.
Timing is just as an important factor as the subject and the participants of the conversation. Rolling out a new product you’d like to draw attention to is a completely different situation than emphasizing a certain product that is related to an upcoming event or a specific calendar date. Announcing a perfume that is new in your store or in your product line requires a totally different approach than talking about the benefits of buying the same perfume as a Valentine’s Day gift.
What, to whom and when are always critical elements of your communication. You may have noticed however that as we discuss content in the context of social media we’ve not mentioned communication, we rather talk about conversation. If you take a snapshot of the process of releasing social media content, the first still picture you get is communication indeed. But if you did it right by talking about something relevant and addressing the right audience at the right time, your communication would initiate a conversation. And if you did it really, really well, then people would find the conversation so interesting that they would bring in their friends who you have never met before and those friends would also engage their friends in a conversation along the same subject.
The rule of thumb in social media content management is this: If you don’t have something to say, don’t say anything and always take into consideration that no matter how sexy or hip your company or brand is, they are very likely to be dramatically less interesting or cool to your customers than they are to you. In a study done by Agent Wildfire, lack of appropriate content was found to be the second biggest sin committed by brands engaging in social Web environments.
Before you start seeing this as too burdensome, too complicated and way over your head, no need worry. Not being able to announce the moon-landing of your company on a daily basis is completely OK. If there is one single reason why people should be interested in your product or services, you have something to talk about and if you couldn’t identify this reason, your problem is not social media management. Once you know what the subject of the conversation should be, then you can get to the question of who should be in charge for managing that conversation hence your social media presence.
There are three popular methods to approaching this decision.
1. Allocate resources within your company by selecting a person or team.
2. Outsource the work to an agency or consultant.
3. Utilize a combination of internal and external resources.
Here are some key questions to help you decide the best approach. Each have their own risks and rewards.
Do you have an employee full of passion for your brand and an eagerness to share their enthusiasm? The advantage of selecting an existing employee is that they are likely already familiar with the message you want to communicate. However, most situations call for a social media training investment to bring the individual up to speed on how to launch and maintain an effective campaign.
A common misconception is that hiring an agency is an unnecessary expense – but consider the time sacrifice that must be made when tasking an existing inexperienced employee with your social media management. Can you afford to have that team member fulfill this extra position? While there are available tools that help streamline social media maintenance (i.e. HootSuite and TweetDeck ), consumers will not be fooled by a ‘set it and forget it’ approach. Content should be relevant, timely and constant to keep your audience hooked. Many companies find it daunting to take this on themselves.
If you are not comfortable with outsourcing your social media management you should consider an internal/external team combination. Hiring an agency to help identify an appropriate existing employee to take on the role of the company’s voice, create a social media strategy and plan with measurable goals, and coach the employee on implementation of the campaign.
While consultants like us offer a valuable service, managing your company or brand’s social media in-house is a better option. Here are four reasons why:
1. No one knows your business better than you or your team. The members of your team have their fingers on the pulse of your business.
2. Your business is not static: Having an outside strategist create an editorial calendar is great, but eventually they’re going to come off sounding canned and out of touch. An outside consultant should work alongside an internal team member, transitioning the consultant’s role to that insider on a gradual basis.
3. Your people are more flexible. A consultant has an agreement which he/she tries to stick to. An in-house person has no such pressure and can always be on the lookout for new content to create and post.
4. Someone in-house likely has more passion for your brand than an outsider. Find someone on your staff with a passion for both your business and social media and set that person up to manage your social media profiles and accounts on a daily basis.
Having said that, an outside consultant can have a long-term relationship with your company or brand when it comes to blogging or more extensive content creation which is less “of the moment” than updates on Facebook or Twitter. And for busy executives and others responsible for the day to day operation of your company, it is often easier to edit content than it is to create.