Who Should Manage Your Social Media Marketing?

In the light of the soaring popularity of Facebook and Twitter with consumers, most businesses know they had better get involved. In fact, we have moved past the early days of questions challenging the validity of SM as a marketing medium — it’s for real folks. Now the question on everyone’s mind is “Who.”

As in, “Who should manage our social media marketing?”

And almost before they have finished the question, 10-20 “social media experts” will chime in with the answer (while possibly raising their hands):

“Ooohhh, ooohhh, pick me! Let me do it!”

In fact that is just the kind of thing giving SM consulting a bad name right now. Just as there were a lot of hacks in Web site design 10 years ago and a lot of overnight SEO experts 5 years ago, today there seems to be a proliferation of “Social Media Consultants.” A recent USA Today poll revealed that there are more Social Media Consultants in the United States than there are Republicans. And last weekend I was driving through rural Ohio and saw an interesting image. A small bait shop operating out of a trailer and offering “storm doors, live bait and social media consulting.”

In an effort to help wade through the many options of SM consulting, I spoke with some respected social media folks and got their take on the question: “Who Should Manage Your Social Media?” Are you hoping for a simple answer? Sorry, there are 4 firmly entrenched camps on this one.

1. Your Public Relations Firm Should –

I have a bit of a bias here. In the 90s, I left Bowling Green with my newly minted Public Relations degree and started working at a dot com startup in the energy industry. I thought it would be a good idea to pitch people on Geocities who wrote about energy topics to get them to cover what we were doing at Energy.com. No one called it social media marketing then, it was just applying public relations and media relations skills to the Internet. I have had both Internet marketing gurus and public relations experts tell me that your PR firm should not be in social media and that the two tactics are fundamentally different.

I disagree.

In both media relations and social media communications, your PR firm is working to influence an influencer to say good things to an audience. I asked a highly regarded social media influencer and PR pro about this. Here is what they told me:

“Working with an established agency for SM strategy makes sense because of the talent, expertise and resources we can bring to the table. For example, we have tools and relationships with vendors that a solo practitioner or smaller agency simply wouldn’t have access to. We also surround each client with the best minds for the job, bringing together a good mix of senior and junior staffers for ongoing brainstorms. An agency with a strong reputation for great ideas, client service and results-driven, award-winning campaigns is also in the best position to attract, recruit and retain the very best talent from around the country. Ultimately, whether you’re talking about traditional PR or social media and PR2.0, it’s all about the people.”

2. Your SEO Firm Should –

After all, it all is about online traffic and search engine rankings, right? At least, that is what a lot of SEOs will tell you. And to a large degree this holds water. A strong social media presence means credible and diverse in bound links, which is great for search rankings. That being said, I do find that some SEO companies view social media with the same analytical eye they use in writing title tags and miss the human aspect. I would argue that social media is about human relations and has a secondary benefit with search engines, not the other way around.

3. A Specialized Consultant Should –

In Columbus, Ohio there is a guy named Bob. He works for a used car salesman. Recently, Bob was laid off from the car lot, heard a story on NPR about Facebook and is now a social media consultant? Beware of Bob.

With a careful eye and some background research, you’ll find there are some great consultants focusing on social media who have proven their worth. In Columbus, Ohio there is a guy named Lewis Howes who is the man when it comes to LinkedIn. You would have no trouble finding a whole lot of people who would endorse his work. I asked Lewis why his clients like him so much, he explained:

“The reason individuals should work with a specialized consultant with regards to using LinkedIn is because the opportunity instagram comments cost for learning how to effectively use the networking tool to achieve your professional goals is much greater when one spends hours watching video tutorials, reading blogs, and going through the etiquette mistakes of not knowing how to contact others, or become actively involved. Using a specialized consultant will be more beneficial because they can work with you on a personal level and provide specific instructions on how to achieve your goals. An individual also usually charges less than a larger firm, and is usually more personal.”

My advice in working with an individual consultant? Check references and look at their past employment history. Having 1,000 followers on Twitter doesn’t mean a person can help your company build a social media communications plan.

4. You Should –

A growing number of people in the Internet marketing world are stressing the idea that the best person to manage the SM interaction and marketing efforts for your company and brand is YOU.

Grassroots social media efforts work well for brands with limited budgets, those who may have complex business models, or those with rules and regulations that prevent them from implementing and executing large scale strategies and tactics. It boils down to having the right people within your organization who are passionate about building relationships and educated about doing so in the online space. After all, your customers are doing business with your people first and foremost, not your logo.

In the light of the soaring popularity of Facebook and Twitter with consumers, most businesses know they had better get involved. In fact, we have moved past the early days of questions challenging the validity of SM as a marketing medium — it’s for real folks. Now the question on everyone’s mind is “Who.” As…

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