There are many myths and untruths surrounding the art of social media marketing that can tarnish the deep thought process that goes behind every tweet, post and share.
The decisions that lead to these public communications aren’t made off the cuff; on the contrary – each one has been designed to engage with a brand’s audience in the most effective, friendly and expressive manner.
The roadmap governing each post has been well-communicated and negotiated in close collaboration with the client, to help them meet their overall objective – be it to gain new followers, drive traffic to their site, improve their public relations or be associated and respected by the top influencers in their industry.
With so many businesses considering implementing a social media strategy who might be put off by the ‘social media is easy’ naysayers, I think it’s time to dispel ten myths about social media agencies…
Myth #1 – Just publish; not strategise
‘Tweet, tweet, tweet’ – that’s the perception many people have. Of course, while the medium to communicate might be a tweet, a Facebook post or a Google+ share, your social media channel isn’t just a broadcast platform. That’s what your blog or corporate pages are for – keep them that way.
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A perfect social media channel for a brand will present a mixture of content; from passing comment about the latest news in a given industry, to engaging with fans and followers to get their opinions on a topic. And yes, from time to time, perhaps you’ll also reference the occasional on-page product.
Moreover, reputable agencies will create a long-term strategy with their client, taking the time to identify their objectives. They should be able to illustrate the action plan for this strategy, give examples of how it will work and be able to feed back reports based on the plan.
Myth #2 - Have a ‘one size fits all’ approach
A fast food business will have completely different needs to that of a software management company. As such, their choice of social media channels – and the content they decide to publish on them – should differ. The same goes for the tone of voice used and the way the brand reacts to positive and negative engagement.
We know that some social channels favour some brands better than others – for example, Pinterest might be ideal for a shoe seller, but not a recruitment company. A reputable social media agency shouldn’t attempt to convince you otherwise.
Myth #3 - Can’t demonstrate return on investment (ROI)
Agencies are blessed with tens of dozens of programs, websites and analytical platforms (like Google Analytics and Sprout Social), through which to feed back the performance of a social campaign.
While it might have been difficult several years ago, there are now no reasons whatsoever that an agency can’t tell you how many new followers you’ve amassed, how many visitors they’ve driven to your site and how much money they’ve earned your company through social referral – or assisted – web traffic.
Myth #4 - Don’t understand my business
There are a plethora of businesses out there that sell what many of us would describe as ‘niche’ products or services. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re not entitled to – or won’t benefit from – social media management.
While it’s true that a social media agency might not be quite up to date on the latest news in the non-toxic rubber bunny rabbit toy industry, that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to make a compelling social strategy.
In fact, sometimes it’s much easier to come up with plans for brands with very specific markets. Just as the company will gradually learn the importance of social media, so will the agency research, interact and engage with the community to adopt the right voice and develop the right knowledge appropriate for the brand.
Myth #5 - Automate all their posts
Whilst the tools are out there to automate every facet of your social media campaign, by no means should these tools be relied upon for your company’s every need.
For one, it’s far too easy to make simple gaffs using automated tools. Just imagine the fallout if your agency queued up and sent out a ridiculously positive tweet about building safety at the same time as an earthquake happened in the same country, devastating millions of lives. That would certainly be bad PR. Furthermore, automated tools can be unreliable and don’t allow you to react immediately to responses.
Myth #6 - Ignore negative comments
Everyone loves getting nice feedback from a post; however, for brands in particular, this is far from guaranteed. All it takes is one disgruntled customer to start a veritable landslide of negativity all squarely aimed at your brand.
To overcome this, you’ll have already agreed a crisis management plan with your agency in advance.
Myth #7 - Work 9 – 5
If only! Social media bods rarely stop when the clock strikes five. For brands with an international presence or whose audience is online in the evenings or at the weekends, their channels receive attention at all times of the day, preventing any opportunity to nod off.
Similarly, if you want real-time promotion of your biggest calendar conference date of the year, then you’ll probably want live-reporting of the latest action on your social channels, be it morning, noon, or night.
Myth #8 - Push quantity over quality
On paper, ten posts might indeed seem better than one, but what is the point if those posts are lacking any real interest or value to the reader? An experienced social marketer is able to make each post matter on its own merits through quality, rather than streaming out a deluge of links to largely unrelated news stories just to ‘meet the quota’.
By the same token, 1000 Google+ fans is great, but what’s better is having 500 that really engage with your brand and share your content because your agency has connected with the right kind of audience in the first place.
Myth #9 - Don’t fit in with the wider digital strategy
Social media doesn’t have to be a stand-alone product. If implemented well, it can complement your search engine optimisation (SEO) and content strategy perfectly. In fact, we positively encourage the adoption of a social strategy alongside a content marketing and SEO strategy.
It’s only when these core competencies work in harmony together that the true potential of social media can be seen.
Myth #10 - Are run by teenagers
This myth has been busted a million times online and it’s about to be busted again.
Just because social media might seem like a ‘young person’s’ game, that doesn’t mean you can expect your campaign to be run by a teenager.
It’s more likely that your campaign manager has risen through the ranks of corporate communications, PR, content creation or community management than having been plucked off a Facebook jobs board.
What are your top myths about social media agencies? Leave me a comment below.