Why more isn’t always better in social media
Posted by mandyf on February 29, 2012
When you outsource your social media it is important to understand that it does not work like team sports. A common mistake made by many companies outsourcing their social media is that if one is good, two is better and three must be excellent. That isn’t the case. If it were, you’d see NFL teams that pursued Tom Brady and both Manning brothers. They don’t however because there can be only one leader. You need to put the ball in one person’s hands and let them run with it. To illustrate that, we have another lesson from the archives of social media blunders. Names are changed to protect the fatally flawed.
A company that dealt in retail clothing decided that they wanted to branch out to the Internet and offer their overstock at discount prices. The obvious problem is that it is a highly competitive field and aside from a smattering of long tail phrases, SEO alone was only going to go so far. To get their endeavor kick started, they hired a social media manager. Their manager talked a good game, he knew fancy phrases that sounded right but ultimately he didn’t know how to actually act on what needed to be done. This wasn’t a problem until Company A was ready to launch and begin offering products for sale. Here is what went wrong:
SMM #1 had built what appeared to be an impressive Twitter following. The numbers were great, but the problem was most of the followers were bots, follow me/follow you accounts and people residing on a different continent that Company A did not do business on and had no desire to get involved with.
Company A never paid attention to what happened on Facebook and found out far too late that SMM #1 had created their page under his own personal account and refused to give up control of it.
Next they found out that their G+ circles were never cared for properly. After months of “community building” having only 50 people in circles, some of which were direct competitors did not work.
Their solution was to hire a new agency to handle operations. Agency B submitted and won the contract, but then realized they didn’t have the ability to do the job because aside from making great infographics and a super personal presentation, they knew nothing about social media management. Their solution was to contract with Firm C to handle the job. What could go wrong you wonder?
SMM #1 refused to give up any control or even share access to the networks he had mismanaged. Agency B couldn’t make SMM #1 do anything because he was hired by Company A the same as Agency B was. Firm C in the meantime spent nearly 80% of their billing time asking SMM #1 to do anything productive they could promote and Agency B kept screaming wondering why nothing was getting done. While this was going on, Company A was tossing money down two sinkholes for nothing and Firm C was on the outside begging anyone they could to just make a blog post or even update the website to reflect current inventory.
What happened in the end? SMM#1 pointed fingers for failure at Agency B and Firm C. Agency B pointed fingers at SMM #1 and Firm C for failure. Firm C produced a report showing what they got done , how long it took for SMM #1 and Agency B to act on what they had done, and how much they had prepared that wound up wasted because everyone argued over who had the “right” to do what. As would be expected, after over a half year of disappointment, Company A fired everyone – except Firm C that stayed out of the finger pointing and stuck to the facts of what did and did not work and why that was the case either way. They were awarded a new contract.
The lesson to be learned for companies is to remember – there can only be one leader. In an industry like social media and social networking, everything is related and cannot work to expectations when divided into tiny fiefdoms. It is also a lesson that you need to pay attention to who you hire. It doesn’t take much to ask for references or credentials – any reputable firm will provide them. For SMM’s the lesson is not to put yourself in a position where you can’t properly do your job and obtain satisfactory results. While Firm C made out okay in the end this time, there are countless stories of companies that showed no mercy and fired everyone involved and then gave them all negative reviews and poor references if asked about the quality of work.
In short, when it comes to your business, be the master/mistress of your own destiny. Working for one end user is the way it is supposed to be, not two intermediaries and then an end user.