You may be thinking that this is another 'How to do social media properly' post, but as we all now know what social media does and its benefits and value to our brands, I'm really reluctant to go down the same old routine of writing a '10 tips' or 'Why you should be doing this' article.
Every time you search Google for articles about social media in general, our digital space is completely filled with thousands of social media consultants & experts all looking to jump on the bandwagon and offer their expert advice about how you should be using social media. Of course, there are thousands of social media consultants and agencies that do really understand the true value of social media & operate hugely successful marketing campaigns. These are the very same social media consultants and experts that really do deserve the prices that they charge for their services. And, for a very good reason ...
Social Media is dedicated and specialised business
Now here lies the problem ... There are still many businesses and companies that haven't yet embraced its use and therefore look to 'experts' to help them on the path to online success. So what do these companies do? ... They simply Google 'social media marketing' and they have to choose from 19000 agencies offering their specialist digital services to the bewildered Googler.
They will find all the social media gurus, experts & ninjas looking to make easy money by blagging their way through their so-called knowledge of social media and giving genuine social media marketing companies a bad name when eventually, some months down the line ... they start wondering why so much money was paid for a shiny Facebook & Twitter account that hasn't amounted to any noticeable results, any sales, any conversations or any ROI.
What they should have done, was go to a social media consultancy because as we all know, they are the real professionals! For instance, they use a lot bigger words and more jargon than the 'standard' social media agency so they must be experts right? They will examine everything in great detail and look to develop sound digital strategies. They will use leverage tools and technology to deliver efficient & integrated communications. They will implement, optimise and connect their ideas in a seamless, collaborative way whilst looking to the future for structuring your business. They even use buzzwords such as tangible, pragmatic & insightful to create valuable campaigns for you.
Where do I sign? I'm excited now!
They sound absolutely perfect. However, social media consultants in many cases are faking it till they make it. Or, to put it another simple way. Lying!
Now I'm well aware that I may upset quite a few social media consultants by calling them liars & fakes, but the real social media 'people' will understand exactly the point I'm trying to make. The point is, there are many of these 'fast-buck' operations out there rubbing their hands together every time they convince the unsuspecting little business into parting with their hard-earned money.
Real social media experts will offer valuable advice
- A real expert will market your company on as many networks as possible, but will focus all content around Facebook (It's the biggest network you know)
- Real experts will gain you thousands of followers and likes so they can show you how successful they are by measuring these metrics (They can even pay for followers if you want)
- Twitter can have automated updates from Facebook to save effort & they'll set up auto DMs every time someone new follows you (they could even put hash tags in all your content because everyone uses them now)
- They'll disable comments on your blog because it'll save the hassle of dealing with negative comments (In any case they would delete them .. just to be on the safe side)
- Social media is all you need for your marketing strategy
Beware of the: 'We do social media too' syndrome
As you can see from the bullet points above, I was being somewhat ironic in my prose, but the reality is, this is what is happening in many cases, and it's a growing trend. We often come across well established traditional marketing companies, PR/business advisers & web designers that have added an extra drop-down box to their services offering 'Social Media Consultancy' as part of their knowledge and experience. Most of these companies are very successful & have been established for decades, working with big names as part of their services and long may they continue, but are they truly social media experts? or have they just adopted social media as another service to keep up with trends?
Front line experience counts
No doubt some small businesses have had mixed results their marketing company when it comes to the implementation of social media. It simply comes down to inexperience. Yes, these companies may be talented PR professionals and create fantastic email campaigns, but many have taken an opportunist approach to social media without having served time on the front line in the Twitter trenches or Facebook battlements. Of course traditional marketing tactics work on social media, but it's not a one way conversation with endless broadcasting of advertising messages. Social media is a community where you have to interact with people, talk to people, deal with complaints, answer questions & engage in discussion.
Social Media is dedicated and specialised business
You may be thinking that this all sounds negative, but it isn't. The very best social media people are those that personally use it daily, and have done so for some time. They have learnt the hard way, putting in the time and effort to succeed by making mistakes, testing new platforms, dealing with problems and complaints, learning from others, listening to people and producing a consistent personality across all their social networks. These are the people that truly understand the current trends in social networking because they live and breath social media 24/7. They are plugged in at work & on their tablets whilst being constantly aware of what's happening by receiving notifications on their smartphones.
These social media 'workers' with hands-on experience are the people you need to be using and trusting. They understand marketing, public relations and customer service, which has all been learnt in the real-world on the front line of social media. PR/Marketing & 'consultancy' agencies will probably have attended a few seminars by other 'experts' read all the white papers and ebooks then added their hyperbole and jargon filled 'expertise' on the subject to their traditional services.
So who would you choose to help you with your social media?