Social Media: Who can you trust?

The thrill of learning a new way to reach customers, and the desire to produce tangible ROI for clients, hasn’t changed since those first days. This passion is what makes digital marketers want to use new platforms such as social media. We are used to applying those learning’s to the benefit of our clients.

According to Wikipedia (Malcolm Gladwell) it requires 10,000 hours of experience to be counted an expert at anything; no one has had enough time to do this in social media marketing, meaning there truly are no experts. Anyone who claims to be such is misleading themselves and their clients.

So who can I trust?

A good online marketing professional or agency can use the skills and experience they already have to work with you on a profitable and productive social media campaign. As agencies we need to be up front with our customers, we need to be open about this being new, what our experience really is and that we need ‘brave’ clients who are prepared to learn with us.

It is possible to smell a social marketing bullshitter, just look for the following 3 common lines:

  • Everybody’s doing it

As far as we’re concerned there are only two reasons to “do” social media;

Money; and Reputation.

If a social media campaign isn’t going to increase your bottom line, or your company’s reputation, it’s just fluff. And potentially expensive and detrimental fluff at that.

  • It’s easy

A social media campaign requires your company to be out there talking to your customers, whether that’s via an agency or directly. Internal resource is nearly always essential. Any agency that doesn’t make it clear that you will need one or all of the following, is not telling you the whole story;

• Change to job descriptions

• New HR policies

• New staff

• New customer service processes

• New cross departmental working practises

• New software to understand

• New jargon

• New KPI’s to report on

• New budget required

• New traffic sources

• New marketing opportunities

• New PR opportunities

• New revenue opportunities

• New ways to increase your market share

  • It’s risk free

Hell no! There are plenty of high profile stories about social media blunders. However, most of us are likely to face less exciting problems;

You might not like the conversation

I recently visited a top 100 UK brand whom I won’t name who have been encouraged to ‘do it’ by their agency and have launched a Facebook page. However they are finding that around 50% of the interactions are customer service issues. Instantly this has soaked up around 2 weeks per month of their digital team’s time dealing with these complaints. The lesson here is to look before you leap, get your strategy and resource ready for what will come.

You don’t really have the time

I think the biggest risk for most companies dipping their toe in social media marketing is just this, they are only dipping their toe. Reaching a critical mass in the campaign can take time and a lot of effort. A lot of companies will be ‘too busy’ to see through their aspirations. What engagement they achieve in the early stages will wane as they are distracted elsewhere and the campaign will peter out.

How can I avoid the bullshit?

Success in social media marketing needs you to be upfront and honest, so you need your agency to exhibit this also. Ask what experience do they really have? Make them talk through the detail, speak to the clients they are talking about, and get their side of the story too.

We have been running social media marketing campaigns for our clients for almost four years now, but really only in earnest for the last 18 months. Last year we won an award for ‘best use of social media’ but I’m going to tell you straight, we aren’t experts yet. We are probably one of the most experienced Social Media marketing agencies in the UK but this still feels very new.

Understanding the possibilities of the technology in social media marketing is one thing but implementing an actual campaign is totally different. Given how few clients have really made headway in social media marketing, there seems to be a disproportionate number of ‘experts’. It is the client experience that counts.

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