Why A Company Shouldn’t Run It’s Own Social Media

Posted on August 21, 2008. Filed under: Social Media, Social Network, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

My day job helped launch a new sports league near the beginning of the year. Because of their limited budget, assets, especially access to talent, we made a series of suggestions on how to engage social media to promote the league before the first game was played and the first player was drafted. While we were engaged with them we created a Facebook group, a MySpace page, a Twitter account, and a YouTube Channel. During the first months of the launch we shot a ton of video, interviews with fans, players and league executives as well as town-hall meetings. I Twittered the comments from the town-hall, the interviews, what famous players were stopping by the trade show booth to chat at the various shows where the league was represented. We quickly built a large site for the league that included the videos and links to the social network sites, blogs, etc. Time went on as it often does and the client decided to move. We turned over all of the social media logins, passwords, links etc. to the league to manage.

Because of the hype of the Olympics, sports has been on everyone’s mind, especially the league’s sport since several of the staff in our office played the sport in college. My boss and one of our account execs were streaming the latest event in his office, hooting and hollering at every missed opportunity or great play. I knew exactly what they were watching since I was getting a play-by-play from those I follow on Twitter. I heard the U.S. team one the Gold right before I heard a yell from the other room, apparently the video was buffering!

I instantly jumped over to my former client’s site to see if they had posted anything. I didn’t really expect them to have anything in the can, and figured it’d take them a few minutes to post something on their site. Sure enough, as I write this the posting went up. Excellent, they get about 9 thousand visits a month.

So I bounced back to their Twitter account to see if they had posted anything. Their last post was yesterday. I dropped them a quick note to remind them to post something. I wanted to do a quick search to see how many people were Twittering about the gold medal win. I didn’t have to go far. The front page of Twitscoop showed the sport as one of the top tag clouds, probably around the 6th or 7th most popular (it’s a little hard to tell, using Twitscoop is helpful but not very exact with it’s numbers. So went through with my search to see how many people were talking about the sport. Since this morning there were over 300 Tweets about the competition, that was BEFORE the Gold medal win. I’m literally writing this a few minutes past the win, so you can imagine how much buzz there is at the moment and will be for the rest of the day and week. The spike for comments related to the name of the sport is huge, never mind other terms related to the win.

Twitter Traffic Spike

Twitter Traffic Spike

It’ll be interesting to see what Google trends has to say about the sport in the coming weeks.

All this leads me to the title of the article. Had we or another agency been running the social media engagement for the league, we would have earmarked the possibility of this event as a great time to engage with fans of the sport. We would have had articles ready to go on the site, into the various social network news, status or blogs. We’d be favoriting all of the pirated footage showing up n YouTube later today. We would have been Twittering every play and the news and interviews to follow the big win. The thing that differentiates an agency that is engaged in social media and a company like the league, or just about any other corporate entity, is that we live in social media, on YouTube, Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, Ning, Twitter, Tittr, Mashable, Digg, etc. Not that it’s the fault of a company. Their job is to run their company, it’s an agency be it a marketing agency, PR group, consultant, etc. to know the who, what , when, where, why and how of promoting their clients’ message.

Many colleagues I talk to have the same issue. Because their client has an intern with a Facebook account or their CFO has a MySpace, they think that is all that is needed to be able to appropriately engage the public through social media. It takes more than a copy of Fast Company or Wired and a computer to market using SoMe. This is not a big surprise though. I know plenty of graphic designers, and as one myself, who shudder when clients ask for source files, or decide to tackle graphic design themselves with a student copy of Photoshop. As with SoMe, it takes more than Photoshop to make great, even acceptable, graphic design. You need experience, talent and education to understand hierarchy of information, how to properly use a grid, typography, audience, etc.

This isn’t to say that all companies are void of employees that get SoMe. Some have smartly hired experts in the field, and will hopefully listen to them (Hello, ScottMonty). But certainly the majority of clients who think they’ll take it upon themselves to put some video clips up on YouTube or make the decision themselves that Bebo is a more appropriate point of engagement than Hi5 for their target audience (insert any SoNet in here, you get my point), are doing themselves a disservice.

They say that someone who represents themselves in court has a fool for a client. I’m a little burnt with new business pitches to come up with an appropriate clever line to replace this in regards to PR, marketing, advertising, graphic design, etc. Anyone? Beuller?

p.s. The opinions in this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer. No proprietary or private information is included and no names were mentioned (except Scott Monty’s) to protect the privacy of those individuals or corporations.

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2 Responses to “Why A Company Shouldn’t Run It’s Own Social Media”

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Hello.

While I agree with your premise, I think the title of your post is off. It should be “Why A Company Shouldn’t Run Its Own Social Media without Knowledgeable Staff.” It’s not that companies can’t or shouldn’t handle social media, any more than they can’t or shouldn’t handle their own accounting, marketing, PR, HR, etc. They just need specialists who understand it and can help guide the process.

I’ve got nothing against a client who wants source files, as long as they have people on staff who know how to work with them and who understand graphic design, coding, etc. After all, they’re the brand managers and are probably more well-versed in what will fly at their company than the consultant is. After all, they spend 100% of their time (and have done so for years) on their own brand. The consultant who comes in and after a few weeks or months presumes to tell a company how they’re doing it all wrong is just as suspect as the company that tries to tackle specialist functions without the necessary experience.

In the end, it’s about attracting and hiring the right talent, finding partners and vendors who complement the in-house skillset, and ensuring that they all work in concert.

Scott,
Of course. I do mentionthat I am making a generalization, which is why I backtrack a bit and mention you:

This isn’t to say that all companies are void of employees that get SoMe. Some have smartly hired experts in the field, and will hopefully listen to them (Hello, ScottMonty)

I go on to say that it takes more than Photoshop to make great design. Obviously they could hire a talented and skilled designer.

The point is, and I should have been more clear, that most often they don’t have the staff on hand. Very often, as I mentioned, companies figure having someone who has minimal interaction with a social network can solve their social media issues. I’ve worked as an in-house designer and an agency designer. I’ve been hired to develop templates for clients to use in-house. It’s when a client decides they don’t need a specialist, whether in-house or out of house, that they’ve run into problems.

In a perfect world we’d see companies instituting hiring reminiscent of the late 90s where they all had an in-house design and marketing team. In the real world, social media is so new and misunderstood that most companies don’t realize it takes a specialist.

Take the scenario above. They have a head of marketing and a webmaster, but no social media expert. So of course they were unprepared to take advantage of such great opportunity.

While I feel we do agree that companies need knowledgeable staff, since most don’t have it or don’t feel they need it, I think the title remains suitable. I could change it to “Why A Company Shouldn’t Run Its Own Social Media Until They Smarten Up And Hire A Decent Partner Or Internal Team Of Social Media Experts!”

Try typing that into Twitter, better click over to TinyURL.com real quick first!


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