Disclaimer: This is an opinion/point of view. Many of you may agree or disagree, I just wanted to express my views on the topic 🙂
Scene 1: When I was working with Zoho, one of the customers from Australia tweeted about a reseller problem on one fine morning. I am used to track Zoho and ManageEngine (another brand from Zoho,which I worked for) in Twitter and I found the tweet, reported it immediately to my boss. The problem was taken to the sales team and it was solved by afternoon (night in Australia). The customer was happy and even tweeted good things about our sales team. Perfect example for customer care through social media. Cut.
Scene 2: One of my friends is working for Social media agency which in-turn maintains the social media implementation for different clients. I was inquiring how do they make updates on different brands. They have to send a list of updates which is approved by the marketing team in the client side and then they make those updates based on the situations. I was surprised and asked then how it is when it comes to sudden developments in the market or even a customer query that needs an immediate answer. The agency can’t make any substantial update without the approval of the client. Cut.
I have seen a good number of posts in different blogs on why a social media agency is needed and questions to ask before you hire a social media agency etc., but there were very less anti-theses to what is considered to be an universally accepted thesis. The two situations above and many other similar experiences along with this wonderful Forrester article by Sean Corcoran made me to write this article.
No one can undermine the power of social media and it’s imperative for every brand to embrace this wonderful tool because it has given platform to interact with your customers direct and personal. But should you go for an agency is a question to be answered.
1. Social media interactions are personal
Everyone in the business agrees that social media interactions are personal and you need to be extremely careful when you talk to a customer online. One of the educated gentlemen by the name David Ogilvy once said, “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife” and talking to a customer (potential customer too) in a social media platform is like talking to your wife in a party, even if its personal, everyone will hear it. And I would not like to talk to my wife through a third person. Would you?
2. Social Media is wholesome
The biggest problem that most brands face is that they are not aware what can be done through different social platforms. You have a whole gamut of things that can be done through social media. It can be leveraged to do research, develop your products, find potential beta testers, improve your SEO activities, find the right talent for your company, expert opinions, advertise and for some it can even become a customer support tool. If its that wholesome and dynamic, it’s not something which you can outsource to some third party. It’s like outsourcing your core function. Will you outsource your core functions?
3. Social Media is not advertising or PR
Advertising or PR is like shouting to the open crowd. The effectiveness of an advertisement or a PR campaign is not perfectly measurable in fact in recent times Social media platforms have become one of the best measures of offline advertising campaigns, for instance the Volkswagen Vento’s talking paper ad or even the ever favorite Zoozoos. Advertising and PR are generic whereas social media interactions are specific. So it’s utter stupidity to equate both. In fact the traditional agencies think and believe that they already have specific skills to evolve in to a successful social media agency as they are good in PR or advertising, which isn’t true.
4. Passionate about your brand
You can’t expect a third party agency to be passionate about your brand. Any day an employee is different from an agency. In fact there are a whole lot of examples where the social media efforts from top executives themselves reaped a lot of benefits. An agency never ever can be passionate about a brand. I don’t blame them but social media needs a little more interest, a little more involvement and a little more passion
5. Continuity in relationship
An agency has a shorter relationship with a company. Yes, there are a few long standing agency-brand relationships around but mostly agencies change. The way one agency handles your brand will not be the same as the other. Actually these days, the agencies have become so overwhelmingly enthusiastic that they want to change the whole strategy of the previous agencies. There are also chances of your social media expert from the agency may leave because of the cut-throat competition between agencies to acquire good talent. I don’t say that your employee will stay forever but the threat is less and moreover your strategy never changes.
6. Lack of co-ordination
The scenario which I explained in the situation 2 is a perfect example. Will you have the time to explain the strategies to an agency and if you have different agencies for your advertising, PR and social media, it becomes even worse. The co-ordination between your offline and online marketing activities should be spot-on otherwise you will be decimated in the online space. The Airtel 3G launch is the best example in which there was absolutely nil co-ordination between online and offline marketing activities
7. Social media is a commitment
The statement says it all 🙂
These are some of the thoughts that came in to my mind about outsourcing your social media. As I said earlier, it’s a view point and awaiting the comments of the readers.