Over the last few years we have seen a proliferation of social media agencies (and of marketing/design agencies that offer a social media service) but I’m sceptical (or worse) as to whether that are adding value to anyone (except the agencies themselves).
The other day a friend of mine called me for a bit of advice about his corporate Twitter account, well, he’s a consultant and it was the Twitter account for one of his clients.
He told me that they had engaged an agency to “tweet on their behalf” and that this agency was going to charge them £250/month for three tweets every day. “Is this OK” he asked…
Hold it right there!
To answer this question we need to ask “What is social media for?”
It is, in a business context, a tool to enable us to talk to our customers and for our customers to talk to each other (the clue’s is in the name…SOCIAL media). It is not a broadcast channel, because there are loads of other channels that do this more easily and better. Social media is there to help us have conversations with a global audience of literally billions of people without having to go and visit each of them or join a massive number of breakfast groups. It doesn’t change the nature of these conversations…it merely streamlines the process.
If an agency takes this role it puts in place a barrier between us and our customers/prospects…and this can only be a bad thing. The agency is NOT offering this service because it’s right for our business, it’s offering it because it’s profitable for them.
Sadly though, many organisations don’t want to listen to their customers, they don’t want feedback, they don’t actually want to engage…they just want their customers to think that they do. But there is no shortcut to engaging customers. It requires hard work and perseverance. It’s worth it in the end though. Because with this hard work we build loyal advocates for our business and our brand that read what we write, share our stories and recommend us to their friends. You simply won’t…can’t get this if a third party is being your voice. It’s like sending me to have dinner with your best prospect because you can’t be bothered to go yourself. It is (eventually) the kiss of death.
So, if you don’t need an agency what do you need?
Well, the answer is simple. You need a social media consultant to help you learn how to set-up and run your social presence…and then you need to be left to it. You can of course get on-going help when you’re stuck…but this isn’t about the wholesale outsourcing of your social presence, it’s about getting a little bit of help when you need it.
(as it happens the agency my friend is saddled with isn’t even sending unique Tweets…it’s broadcasting generic tweets across all of its client’s accounts…should be a flogging offence!)