The coolest agency in the world can’t execute brilliant social media campaigns if the client doesn’t want to invest in the idea – not just of using social media as a megaphone like an advertising replacement, but of actually changing things around to make open social communications a long term investment. That investment necessarily takes a number of forms, too.
It’s not just about assigning a budget, by any means. The investment in time and effort required from the client in executing sound social media campaigns is nearly always greater than that required by advertising campaigns. Engaging with customers over social media platforms can mean some pretty big changes at the client’s side. They don’t all have to happen at once, but it’s important to map out some of the expected change points and commit to them in order that a long term programme of value is created, not just a tactical ‘quick hit’ with potentially negative consequences.
Is your management ready?
You have to ask if your company is structurally ready to undertake social media engagements – a process that involves some difficult questions. Do the management and reporting structures you have in place map to social media? Can you escalate issues quickly and effectively to all your different departments? Can you guarantee to respond quickly? How do your current HR policies map to social media? Who is responsible for that unhappy customer on Twitter – marketing or customer service? And how are you going to resource manning your social media engagements? (because if you think the agency is going to take the full 100% of the load and handle it, you’ve got another thing coming! If your agency says that you don’t have to be involved day-to-day, get another agency fast. Really.)
The next investment comes before you ever tweet a tweet or book a face. It’s in defining your social media guidelines, working with HR to make sure that these are embedded as a core element in the company’s process. Next up it’s making sure that staff are aware of what those guidelines are and, ideally, have the chance to question them or clear up any areas which appear difficult to understand or apply to a given person’s situation.
Now there’s a process of defining roles and responsibilities – who owns what platform and what are the internal processes and ownerships?
Once the job of deciding the niceties is out of the way, things like the naming conventions you’re going to use, building the graphical elements of your ‘social identity’ and deciding on the tools you’re going to use, you’ll need to work together with your agency on selecting platforms based on your target audiences, planning the use of those platforms and their rollout. Part of that process would include working out which platforms your key audiences frequent and what you can contribute to the communities you’re joining – what their informational preferences are and how you can help to improve things for them.
In fact, the key challenge that social media poses for companies, particularly those that consider themselves to be ‘customer centric’ is that they have to re-think their processes in order to be truly customer-centric via social media.
Tags: advertising, Alexa, Alexander McNabb, campaigns, communication, Content, CRM, Facebook, guidelines, HR, marketing, public relations, social media, social networking, the coolest agency in the world, Twitter