I have a big head. Not in the sense that I am particularly arrogant but in the literal sense that I have a larger noggin than most. That’s why when shopping for hats I’m often skeptical of labels promising that ‘one size fits all.’ I am almost always the exception to this rule. One size rarely fits all in clothing and certainly in social media strategy as well.
One of the things that makes now an exciting time is that there are so many great sources for insights on social media marketing and management. However, the downside of all of this expert content is that at times it can promote a blind adherence to rules and dogmatic thinking around a channel that’s ultimately very human with all of its foibles.
One needs to tread carefully in calling this out. Many times arguing against a certain point could simply make you appear “in the tank” for the counter point thus continuing the cycle from the other side. We’d all be better served by taking a big step back and coming to terms with the larger myth of one-size-fits-all social media strategy that’s frequently batted across the web.
A few specific issues often bring this topic to light.
Real-Time vs. Automation
Last week Jason Falls wrote a great post on why social media automation isn’t such a bad thing. This sparked a great discussion which you should jump over and be a part of. Many ‘purists’ decried this approach as not “being social” as you aren’t there (online) in real time for the interaction. While I personally see the issue from Jason’s point of view (life happens — I can’t be online all day; I jump in when there’s a notification) I also recognize that for some organizations, constant access and monitoring might make more sense or be essential as in a support-based business.
More than vilifying those that can’t be online 24/7/365 let’s instead discuss what we’re doing to align our social resources in the most impactufl way possible. That could be budgeting for additional team members to keep up with monitoring or investing in tools like Argyle or Sprout Social that can help busy brands manage their feeds.
Social Management Tools vs. Web Interface
One of the more common myths perpetuated out there today is the fact that to have a big, bad social media operation you need a whole command center with huge screens and people monitoring Facebook walls like mission control at NASA. While this is certainly one approach, a more sophisticated social operation does not necessarily mean that one needs an outlay of tens of thousands on resources. Many brands are able to engage effectively via networks’ web interfaces.
Marketing vs. PR vs. Customer Service vs. Agency vs. ???
Many departments in organizations lay claim to social media citing various precedents. Here too there’s not a global answer that applies to every business. In some companies marketing makes the most sense while others may find a home for social within their PR shop. Smaller companies may not have any ‘department’ that social sits in at all while larger companies may outsource it altogether. A better choice here might be to base the residency of your social team on what business objective you’re using social to help solve. For example, if you’re looking at social media to add to your customer support operation then a natural home in that unit is pretty clear.
Blog Post Schedules vs. Blogging When You Feel It
It wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t throw myself under the bus as well, right? My most dogmatic issue is that of establishing a schedule for blog posts. Setting a specific time (and a time of day) to post — whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, monthly — helps build stronger blogging habits and creates an expectation with your community on when you provide new content. However, I always try to qualify this statement by noting that this is the best advice that has worked for me. Is it totally applicable to your brand’s blog? Of course not. Some writers and content creators are natural talents that release ideas at a steady pace as needed. Not me. I need a schedule and a deadline. But that does’t mean it’s not you.
Personal vs. Professional
While it’s decidedly bush league to use a personal profile on Facebook as a brand page (Facebook has been known to suspend offenders on this one), the lines can get a little blurred when it comes to personal brands. For example, for the longest time I didn’t have a page that aligned with my blog content for people to ‘Like’ so my Facebook presence for my brand was simply my personal profile. I also use this to share new blog posts as well. Now that I have a Facebook page for Brand Driven Social, I share my posts there but I continue to share from my personal account too.
Purists might say that the branded content needs to stay on the brand page and my personal account should just be pictures of my kids. However, if you have a strong personal brand and if these posts are driving web traffic and not garnering a bunch of complaints from your network, you should continue sharing on your personal page. This is another example of finding what works best for your brand.
To Summarize …
Neither side of any of the above issues is 100% correct and applicable to every business. Nothing applies to every business. Social media is a channel defined by human relationships and interactions, which are hardly exact sciences. Each issue from tools to automation presents social brands with a spectrum of solutions. What’s most important is picking the tactic that makes the most sense for your business.
Your homework? In scanning the great insights on social media marketing, don’t get hung up on what’s right or wrong. Instead work to find decisions on these various issues that align with your brand’s unique and specific business goals.