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The job of social media should be left to the marketers

Posted by Faye on August 12, 2011 in Marketing & Social Media |

Don’t sell marketing services unless you’re in the marketing business

Let’s say you’ve been taking your car to the same mechanic for several years. And your mechanic suddenly announces he is adding another service to his offerings — heating & air conditioning. He’s hired an installer (at lower than prevailing wage), and will begin installing furnaces and air conditioners for homeowners. What would you think? Would you take this car mechanic seriously? Would you hire somebody to perform a service that is completely unrelated to his/her core business?

I do consulting work for a client who manages IT networks for small businesses. They subscribe to a marketing program specifically for IT service providers. The marketing program provides webinars, direct mail templates, training — all types of marketing support, including monthly newsletters. It’s a great program; I learn something new every day. But an article in their recent newsletter that came across my desk last week troubled me. The title of the article: “How to add $10K per month from social media without adding a tech.”

The writer suggests that we can add another revenue stream to our managed services offerings to the tune of $10,000/month. Keep in mind that my client’s core business is managing IT networks for small businesses. (Services such as data backup/disaster recovery, SPAM filtering, network security, and cloud computing are just a few of the services that IT managed service providers offer). What is the new service he is suggesting? Cross-selling Facebook social media management services to existing clients, prospects, and new leads.

Seriously?

He suggests charging a setup fee which includes a company page, welcome page, custom banners, calls to action, etc.; as well as a monthly fee for the ongoing management of the page. That would include daily wall posts, and “all of the creativity that goes with this.” That would sound like good first steps to me if you were in the business of marketing.

He believes that you can hire a full-time “social media manager,” at $10-$15/hour (depending on your market) to manage up to 30 clients’ Facebook pages. He also suggests that this $10-$15/hour person can work from home, or even Starbucks!

$10-$15/hour? Wow.

I’ve been studying marketing and social media for the past few years, and I’d like to think that social media is a little more than putting up wall posts on a company Facebook page.

Before you even consider such a venture, I would ask you:

  • Is your $10-$15/hour person prepared to discuss strategy on a weekly basis with the client? Will he/she be privy to the client’s overall marketing strategy?
  • Does this person have a well-entrenched presence in, and know how to navigate other social networks such as Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, and LinkedIn; as well as management tools such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck?
  • Can this person integrate other social networks (if needed) into your client’s marketing mix?
  • Is he/she capable of speaking on behalf of the client, especially¬† when someone posts something negative about the client?
  • Is the $10-$15/hour person willing to do a competitive analysis to see what the client’s competitors are doing, marketing-wise?
  • How much time can this person spend getting to know each company’s customers through Facebook or other channels if they’re managing 30 clients’ Facebook pages every day?

You see, taking on a client’s social strategy involves a little bit more than Facebook wall posts.

Social marketing strategy

Facebook isn’t for every business. Just because “everyone else has a Facebook page,” doesn’t mean you should. And social media should never be done exclusively to your other marketing.

Whenever I meet with a prospective client who wants to do social media, I ask many questions, some of which include:

  1. What is your overall goal or objective? Do you want to build a community, generate leads, create awareness, customer service? What do you want to accomplish with social media?
  2. Who is your audience? Have you dug into the psychographics of your target customer?
  3. Is your audience online? Are they active on social networks? If so, which ones? If your customers are on Facebook, then it makes sense to be there.
  4. What are your competitors doing and how are they communicating with their customers in the social space?
  5. How will you measure your success in the social networks? Number of conversations about your brand, increase in sales?
  6. How are we going to integrate social media into your current marketing strategy?

Will your $10-$15/hour person be able to ask these questions of your client?

At the end of the day, social media is just another set of tools to communicate with your customers. But it’s more than Facebook. And it’s more than broadcasting one-way messages to the masses. For some organizations, it involves more than one department.¬† Unless your core business is marketing, communications, or PR, social media should never be a service you upsell to a client.

Facebook, like other social media tools, can be a great business communications tool that should be incorporated into an overall marketing strategy, based on objectives and goals that you set for your company. Business owners, I recommend you stick to doing what you do best; and leave social media to the marketers and PR professionals.

Do you agree with me? Have I ruffled any feathers? I would love to hear your comments, pro or con.

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2 Comments

  • Laurie Sickles says:

    Dear Faye,

    First of all the old saying “you get what you pay for” applies to social media. Anybody who will work for $10 to $15 dollars an hour does not know what all is involved in the upkeep and updating of all of the sites you mentioned. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn and YouTube. And I certainly would not tell any business that it will raise the companies profit by $10K a month.
    On the other hand I have a friend who built his entire business using social media. And his business is very successful.
    Used correctly I believe social media can be a powerful tool in selling a business.
    One key factor though is that the company has a professionally built webpage. A webpage that FaceBook, Twitter, etc. can drive a potential client to for further information. That’s were the strategy of social media comes in. The FaceBook page must be interesting enough for a potential client to want to know more. Interactive FaceBook is a must. People love to Interact and to feel that their opinions are important to the company. Once you hook a potential client then the business can build from there. If one client swears by the business/service you are providing and posts about it one the social media sites such Facebook, Twitter and other sites, then word will start to spread and the business will grow. Even if people follow your social media pages that don’t intent to use your business the numbers will still look impressive.
    Pictures and Video you share (if interesting) can also play a large part in “selling” the clients business/service. I agree that the person updating the social media pages must have direct contact with the paying company.
    Social media used correctly can bring in business. It will not happen over night but then what other PR tools do?
    I truly believe that certain businesses can create a full time position for a social media employee and profit from hiring a knowledgeable and creative social media worker. The person hired must be willing to attend certain events and shoot still pictures and/or video that can be posted along with details of the event. A person who is willing to work with the marketing department to integrate branding of the company using social media along with other PR and marketing strategies.
    I would definitely include social media as part of a marketing package for many business/service companies. There are some companies that would not benefit from social media and a professional marketing/PR company should not push the use of social media on that company.
    Laurie

  • Faye says:

    Laurie, thank you for your comments; I’m in total agreement with you. Just like everything else, though, there are exceptions to the rule. But I do believe that someone who is going to speak on behalf of a company should be at a higher level than a $10-$15/hour person or a paid intern.

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