I’m a big of a Kevin Smith fan. He’s written and directed some of my all time favourite films including Chasing Amy, Clerks, Mallrats, Dogma…ok…so all of them. But probably my favourite piece of his is An Evening With Kevin Smith. AEWKS is a college campus tour where Kevin took questions from the crowd and answered them using incredibly interesting and funny stories. From his experiences writing a Superman script that will never be to his ongoing feud with Tim Burton, it’s 3 hours of pure amazing that culminates in a story about Prince.
Now I’m not going to tell you the story in it’s entirety but the gist is that Smith was commissioned to film a documentary about Prince but was told that Prince basically takes all this stuff and puts it in a vault and it never sees the light of day. Essentially, no one, except maybe Prince, is ever going to see this documentary. I was thinking about this recently when someone was asking to see some of the social media work I had completed for clients. My social media work is some of the best work you’ll never see.
I enact NDA’s with most of my social media clients because in most cases, people don’t want people to know that they’ve outsourced their social media workload. I completely understand why. It can make what should be a really honest and engaging conversation seem fake and forced. In my experience, that’s simply not the case, but I understand where the stigma comes from.
I was once chatting with a very successful Halifax architect while I was doing some work for him and he explained that he had in fact spent a good portion of his work life developing intense, high end, back heavy intranet sites for banks and large corporations. He said that he had awards that he’d won for some of these sites but like a CIA operative that dies in the line of duty, he just got a nameless star on a wall. In other words, some of the best, most lucrative and intense projects that he’d ever worked on, would never see the light of day.
The fact of the matter is that a lot of what we see is not actually being created, controlled or curated by who we think. And that’s not a bad thing. My wife is a naturopathic doctor and part of her training was a very rudimentary business class. Of everything that she learned in that class, she really held on to one takeaway; “figure out what you’re worth and what you love and outsource anything that doesn’t fit those requirements”.
I recently built a website for a client who is in the process of launching a white glove human resources service for small businesses. He was completing training for a client of his the other day and decided to pump my tires a little bit. He told them that I would be a great choice to help them monitor and improve their social media presence. He said he was surprised to find out that maintaining their various social media accounts was this person’s FAVOURITE part of the job.
The fact is that some people like social media and are good at it. Some people meet one of those two criteria and some people meet none. If you’re running a small business and you don’t meet both of those requirements AND have the time to actually do them, there’s no harm, no foul, in seeking out someone that can manage your accounts efficiently and effectively. There are however, a few rules.
Understanding The Brand
Any one running your social media accounts should be VERY in tune with your financial, social, environmental and philosophical ideologies. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen is when the person making sure that a company’s brand is getting out there doesn’t actually understand what that brand is. This is where planning, communication and reflection all become very necessary.
Sometimes the client doesn’t understand their brand. They use willy-nilly hashtags and scattered imagery because they’re not sure what they’re looking to be. This HAS to be resolved before you can have someone go out on social media and speak for you. If not, they will sound stupid and uninformed.
Sometimes, what gets said on social media does not accurately portray your beliefs and the beliefs of your company. You’ll often read an article on a social media blunder as “the company states that an intern was responsible for the social media account at the time of….” or “the company believes that someone hacked into their account and made the controversial posts…” This is weak sauce.
When someone speaks for you, you’re responsible for what they say. It’s fine to come out and say “that’s not what we meant” or “we’re sorry” but it’s not okay to brush it off as “well that person didn’t know what they were talking about”. YOU hired that person. YOU (presumably) screened that person. YOU (hopefully) trained that person. What came out of their “mouth” and into your Twitter feed is as much a part of your brand as anything you do. So don’t say you got hacked. Don’t say it was an intern. Own it.
I was once working on a social media contract for a client. During the process we discussed what I was responsible for and what they were responsible for and the symbiotic nature of our responsibilities. We were starting a Twitter account from scratch (more or less; 5 followers including me, her sister and 3 bots) and were trying to grow a Facebook page that had a modest following. We failed to do either.
Over the course of the four-month term, the client failed to provide the content pieces that were the cornerstone of our strategy. They were then surprised and disappointed when we failed to meet some of the metrics that we had put in place as targets.
Understand that while you may not be responsible for the day to day operations of your social media account, most social media managers can’t just invent content, especially if you’ve not given permission for them to do so. The result is a flat, unimaginative social media strategy that will not lead to the type of growth you’re looking for.
Not everyone needs someone else to handle their social media accounts. Not everyone needs someone to ghost write their blogs for them. Not everyone needs a professionally designed and built website. But ask yourself whether or not you have the time to do it, whether or not you enjoy doing it and whether or not you can do it well. If you can’t answer yes to each of those questions, call somebody.