The Business Social Media Dilemma

Gary Vaynerchuk - Thank You Economy

Gary signing copies of Thank You Economy

In the terrific Smarter Egg book learning programme our group has just finished reading and discussing the excellent book by Gary Vaynerchuk, “The Thank You Economy” , which deals broadly with businesses adopting a “Thank You” philosophy and embracing the Social Media opportunity properly to be successful in the marketplace.

The book was really interesting but in it Gary V took a huge swipe at PR companies for their approach to Social Media for their clients, which was a little unfair (then again, it depends on your PR company!).

Basically he stated that 90% of the worst social media engagements were produced by PR companies! Even stronger than that he accused PR companies of spotting that the “wind” was blowing away from them towards social media and the reason they are engaging with clients in this area is just to bolster up their fees and chargeable hours.

In my experience Gary is way off the mark but it does put the spotlight on what I refer to as the “Social Media Dilemma“.

Social Media Dilemma

It goes like this – as a PR company who always takes a broad “holistic” approach to communications we know and clearly understand the benefit of Social Media for our clients, in fact in 99% of cases well before them. We push for them to engage in this area properly but we do realise that the “voice” used on the platforms should be a trusted and skilled internal voice.

Now for the dilemma – often this trusted and skilled voice is not available and our client is not prepared to allocate the proper resource to this area.

To make sure that they do not get left behind their competitors we will make ensure that our client’s open up their Social Media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and their blog), that they look the part as they are an extension of their brand online and we will also provide them with the necessary training so that they are well equipped to use them proficiently.

We know we cannot do this for them but we will always be there to support them and will never be shy in recommending that they should be more active in that space. Sometimes as an option we might assist them in the “learning phase” until they are fully up and running. (often we have to be quite careful with Social Media conversations because if a client isn’t ready to listen you will end up annoying them!)

We see the huge opportunity for clients and if the Social Media platforms were not there we would be gutted – they add so much opportunity for all our clients.

Swiss Watchmaker

Master Craftsman

Dilemma: Who? – Social Media Manager

Who looks after the Social Media in a business is a vital issue. Gary V refers to this person as the “Community Manager” and is quite right in stating that it should not be someone that you can’t find anything else to do with!

He rightly suggests that this person should not be an intern or another junior person. It should be someone who knows the business intimately, who understands the customer, who is passionate about customer service and who is well able to communicate in the “social media” arena – this person must be quite skilled in this area, which is often underestimated.

Why Social Media activity fails?

This leads me to Gary’s suggestions as to why most Social Media initiatives fail:

1. Using tactics instead of strategy

2. Using it to exclusively put out fires

3. Using it to brag

4. Using it as a press release

5. Exclusively re-tweeting other people’s material rather than generating “own” content

6. Using it to push product

7. Expecting immediate results

I agree with Gary on all of these points 100% but I think it is missing a BIG, BIG last point – a NUMBER 8!

8. Skill

This for me is probably the biggest point and while Gary alludes to it at times I think he actually doesn’t fully appreciate it and maybe he takes his own talent in this area for granted.

Using social media is a very highly skilled discipline, which requires individuals:

  • who understand each of the media intimately
  • who have strong “informal writing” ability
  • who understand the business and customers well
  • who can be fully trusted to be the voice of the company,
  • who have enquiring minds
  • who can manage the unstructured nature of the communications
  • who can respond themselves under most circumstances but knowing when they need assistance
  • who can spot and manage communications with genuine customers and at the same time filter out posts by possible competitors/cranks
  • who have the ability to summarise and relate issues back to management in a timely fashion.

To add to this the platforms have to be managed 24/7, which requires some co-ordination of resources, consistency and dedication.

Wow – that is some job!

Gary Vaynerchuk is a social media genius who is the passionate owner of his own wine business, which makes him quite unique – maybe he underestimates his ability in this area and as a result thinks it is easy for anyone to just jump in and be an expert.

So Gary, thanks for the book, thanks for the terrific examples (Old Spice and the San Francisco dentist!) and insights, never underestimate your own skills and please don’t be too hard on the poor PR companies in the future!

Fuzion provide Social Media Consultancy and Social Media Training.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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3 Responses to “The Business Social Media Dilemma”

  1. David Quaid Says:

    Hi Greg,

    I don’t think Gary means that PR people can’t excel in Social Media – I think he means you have to leave to the old-style PR at the door and flip the pyramid upside down. And he’s totally right. Even renaming the job title is critical to the rebuild of a successful Community Manager.

    The word community is very apt. It crystallises the function because it draws on the loyalty, membership and supporting function of a real traditional community and an online community. You are not broadcasting to all and sundry – you are dealing with a very closely related group of people. You need to be understanding and supportive.

    Informal communications and caring/supporting a community are the invariable traits of ANY community member and certainly its leaders.

    Any form of self promotion, broadcast, advertising belongs as much in your local home/town/estate community as it does in an online community

    In an online community the only key requirements are like mindedness and an interest in the subject that makes you a community

    • Greg Canty Says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks for the post – Gary did actually have a clear shot at PR companies!

      Other than that a good book with good points as I outlined.

      Cheers,

      Greg

  2. Jason Says:

    great article. thanks for sharing.

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