Cheryl L. Bunkley, a Lifestyle & Brand Marketing Consultant, recently had a roundtable discussion about social media PR with some Detroit professionals. I was glad to be part. Hear (or read) the discussion below. YOUR Comments welcome!
Social Media Roundtable Discussion
Pam Perry Melih Oztalay Dwight Zahringer Tom Nixon
Q. Based on your experience, do most clients prefer to outsource their social media services or, do they prefer to coordinate their social media needs in-house?
PP: Most clients and their staffs are super busy. That’s why they reach out to us to be their “social media pr solution.” They have one person to be our point person on staff but basically it’s up to our team to do all of their SMM services. This includes creating the strategy and publishing the content to growing their email database and keeping it current.
DZ: We are seeing a pattern, similar to a few years ago with “website maintenance” where a company wants to elect an employee to help or partake in the management of social media. While the idea is good it is almost always a failure and they take it to outsource and work with a liaison internally at the company.
MO: We find that the results are mixed and size of business does not seem to make a difference.
For businesses that are early adopters of Internet technologies and are committed to a “Internet team”, will focus on managing social media internally with only a request for consultation to review, improve or enhance their efforts.
Businesses that are not as web savvy will outsource their social media and the process requires close communications with the client to know what activities are taking place to insure the social media efforts are effective.
In either case, if a business seeks consultation or outsourcing, a professional web marketing agency can assist with social media that goes beyond Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Not only is there cross communication in social media that can include blogging and creating an industry community, but Google’s recent Google+ with the Google 1+ button will directly affect what can effectively be called “social media search”. Another way of viewing this is “Facebook for Business” in which your Google community will affect search engine rankings of websites in search results.
TN: Most businesses at this point are still exploring social media. Most read that they need to dive in head first, so they go ahead and jump. They prefer to start in-house…but over time, they realize that something’s not clicking, and they aren’t getting the results they anticipated when reading that exciting article in Time or Newsweek. Then comes fatigue. What many soon realize is that they didn’t have the in-house resources to pull off what amounts to a very significant undertaking. They lack the time and personnel to remain actively engaged on social networks (so they ask someone to wear a new hat), and they lack the experience and strategic oversight to set goals, establish metrics and monitor success relative to social. At that point, that’s when businesses look to outsource.
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Q. Do you consider having a “social media presence” to be an absolute must for a company to be successful in today’s business climate?
PP: Yes and clients realize this too. The game has changed and smart business owners and corporations are changing with the times by implementing new, targeted and cost effective marketing methods via the internet. It’s all about search – and they aim to be found online. This is survival of the fittest.
DZ: It is not a “Must” but in order to be competitive you need to participate. Even more so now with the emergence of Google Plus and +1. Social activity is now a consideration in the ranking algorithm for a company, their products and services. If you are not at a minimum listening and responding when and where necessary you are missing many opportunities and not in the “norm”. Like having a working website that will harvest leads, calls and sales you need to do the same with social media. If not you’ll jump on after you hear of a great case study from your competitor.
MO: The short answer is “Yes”. I think that the problem with social media for business is that businesses do not understand how to best use it or how to use it most efficiently. Many businesses see social media as a waste of time, when in fact it allows for the most efficient communication and relationship marketing through many people very easily.
Additionally, many businesses see this as a B2C marketing tool and not so much as a B2B marketing tool. What the B2B world doesn’t necessarily realize “yet”, is that staff at other businesses are between 20 – 40 years of age and they all grew up with the Internet. Of course the first thing this B2B age range staff does is use the web to seek out other businesses, products, services and do so not only through search, but social media.
If we add the new Google+ social media tool into the mix, we will find that businesses will migrate towards Google+ much more readily as it will have an impact on their website ranking position and what others in their networked community will see. By default, businesses will be more likely to tap into social media whether they want to or not.
TN: Like any consultant’s favorite answer, is “it depends.” Again, businesses need to guard their enthusiasm when reading about the latest shiny object in the news or online—the latest shiny object being the collective “social media.” For most companies, there is an appropriate social strategy to explore, identify and define. But you shouldn’t assume it to be so. Our advice to companies is not to jump on Facebook because everyone is doing it. Do the work upfront to truly define your audiences, examine and communicate your overall business strategy, and from there define your marketing strategy, from which will flow your social strategy. If your target audience is 60+ men, it’s likely that Facebook has no place in your social, marketing or business strategies. Ditto Twitter. LinkedIn is a maybe. Think first; act later…you can’t go wrong taking that approach.