Recent online conversations by noted bloggers such as Brian Solis and Michael Brito have brought attention to the emerging cottage industry of social media providers who are promising more than they can deliver.
Such is the buzz that legitimate social media providers are becoming concerned about being tarred with the same brush. Conversely, businesses that would genuinely benefit from outside counsel for their social media strategy and implementation are increasingly wary, as they should be.
Given the doubts, businesses that may otherwise have sought outside expertise may turn more to a DIY approach. Many social media applications are free, and easy to set up, so why not do it yourself?
Here are five reasons social media providers can use to explain to prospective clients why DIY social media is not a good idea for businesses.
1. Without outside perspective you won’t have objectivity — Social media is a powerful tool for reaching out to your customers. So you need to understand how they perceive your organization. If your social media is done entirely in-house, it’s practically impossible to really understand objectively how the community outside your organization perceives you.
2. Your employees or you may not understand the nuances of developing social media strategy — A strategic approach is essential to succeeding in social media marketing. Without it, you are just throwing things out there to see what sticks. But developing a sound strategy takes considerable experience, preferably based on working with several different companies in different industries. Someone with such experience can distill best practices and focus in more quickly on what will work best for you. Such experience does not come cheap. If you do not have it in house, best to go to outside expertise for help.
3. You may not have the time or talent for cultivating your social media community — Online communities are rarely self-perpetuating, particularly in the early stages. You need to nurture online relationships with the members of your community. This takes time and effort. It also takes effective communication skills. If either of these are lacking in implementing your social media outreach, the community will take their time and attention elsewhere.
4. It’s tough to stay up-to-date — Social media is changing and evolving faster every day. Just look at statistics for Facebook usage, or Twitter. But more than that, the applications that support implementation of a social media presence are changing and improving all the time. What is the best tool to monitor your social media reputation? What tools besides Google Analytics can give you insight into the ROI of social media? Unless you can answer these and other questions, you could be missing the boat.
5. If poorly executed your own efforts may be less credible — Executing a corporate social media strategy takes a fine balance of professionalism and authenticity. A slick campaign-like approach can make your efforts seem more like advertising than an effort to engage the community. A sloppy effort on the other hand can damage your brand.
In the end, unless skillfully managed and executed, DIY approaches do not benefit the businesses that need social media. A failed social media presence is worse than none at all. Because that failure is there for all to see. Ultimately failure of go-it-alone efforts will reflect poorly on the industry. Social media providers therefore must make the case more effectively and come down hard on colleagues or competitors who make unsubstantiated claims.