IS YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SPECIALIST QUALIFIED?
We have mentioned before that the rapid increase in the use of Social Media as a marketing tool has resulted in more and more companies contracting “Social Media Specialists”. This title infers someone who possesses a specialized skill set perfect for utilizing the tools found in Social Media. That does not always mean that this is what you are getting.
Two trends have emerged for companies looking to hire someone in the know for their blog, Twitter or Facebook profiles. The first trend we see are companies hiring a self-proclaimed specialist who can set you up with a Facebook profile, but knows nothing about consistent branding. This can be easily avoided with just a few simple questions.
- 1. Ask them about their strategy, if it consists of little more than a profile setup this may set off alarms. A proper Social Media specialist should have questions about your target market, your competitors, your products and service, the image that is to be cultivated and the responsibilities for the required regular maintenance and updates of your profile.
- Ask them about their experience, who have they worked with before? Is that business in line with yours or similar in any aspects? How you market an industrial plastics company can vary a great deal from how you market a “Ma and Pa” eatery.
- Ask them about their plan, how do they intend to pull in “likes” on Facebook or followers on “Twitter”? Who do they intend to target? Are those targets a value to your business? Why?
- What is their plan for the roll out of the strategy? Have they got a reasonable schedule for posts and updates?
- Do they understand Branding and the foundation behind it? Social Media is a voice directly to your end customer, a consistent and clear business image is a must. The can be no disconnect between your social media and other marketing avenues.
- What do they intend to do with your Social Media audience once they have them? Getting a target audience is only half of the immediate goal, you then need to know what it is you plan on saying to them.
The second trend seems to be an increase in contracting IT related professionals to operate Social Media profiles. Social Media profiles are relatively simply to setup and maintain – the primary confusion is typically when trying to connect more than one profile together and still maintain consistency. Beyond that the techie part can be easily learned (until we begin dealing with SEO and deeper market research, but that is a topic for another day).
The concern is that professionals with IT background are not always the best suited for dictating the online image of your business or communicating with your customer base.
Social Media breaks with certain traditional elements in Marketing, in that it is about engagement directly with the consumers. It actually requires skills in both, Sales and Customer Service, and Marketing and Public Relations.
Don’t get me wrong IT folks are great, but my experience with many various techs has been that they can be a little socially awkward at times, and often lack the necessary skills for cultivating a good brand image. The thing to keep in mind is that Social Media is not so much about tech, it is about image and communication.
Social Media is a conduit allowing you and your customer to begin a two way dialogue. The most effective strategies utilize this two way “portal” to communicate back and forth with customers, which generates two way information, promotes brand identity and customer loyalty and results in valuable feedback from the consumer.
The emphasis here is the strong need for communication with customers, without this you are simply selling people another billboard. Social Media provides the chance for you to woo your customers but using it as a tool to simply barrage them is an abuse that they will not tolerate… and unlike the actual highway billboard signage, Social Media makes it very easy for them to ignore you – permanently.
If you are looking at implementing a Social Media strategy, it is in your best interest to do a little homework in advance and hire appropriately. A quick consultation will help you understand some of the tools and dynamics, but profiting from Social Media requires long term thinking and planning. There are a professionals out there equipped to help your business, even if you are on a tight budget. It is worth your while to ask the questions and do the research. Many resources exist to help educate and update on what is out there. Blogs like this one for instance, offer free advice and information.
Make no mistake, Social Media can pay dividends, you just need to understand the tools and the dynamics.