“So you just sit around on Twitter all day?” is a question most seasoned social media managers get. With an estimated 2.77 billion social media users around the world, pretty much every man and his dog (literally) understands the concept of uploading a crudely filtered image to Instagram or putting out a Tweet for their friends, family and potentially the whole world to see.
With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why social media as a service is often overlooked. It’s a perfectly reasonable request that you hire an external development agency to build you a brand spanking new site, but anyone can keep social channels up-to-date, right? In theory: yes. Strategically: probably not. Here are a few reasons why it’s important to hire a dedicated social media person - and not just lump it with your intern to deal with.
There’s A Whole Tone of Voice Thing
Social media is just a big massive void and everyone is just screaming into it. Why would anyone want to listen to you and your >1,000 followers? It pretty much comes down to tone of voice; the approach and way you want your business to be seen online.
It used to be only indie brands that would be quirky online because, with bigger companies, it’s an absolute nightmare to get anything signed off or changed from the status quo. Try explaining to the CEO of a 25-year-old-tech-business that you want to bin off talking about services all the time and start posting about memes.
As cliche as it is, to really “be outside the box”, you need to work with someone to help understand how you can gain online traction and attention. Not every business can be as experimental as MoonPie, for example, but it pays to do something a bit unorthodox once in a while.
There’s A Time & Place
You want to spread your message far and wide, but before you go hitting up every social site with your marketing material, you have to know that there’s a metaphorical barrier. Firstly, there’s a time to publish your messages. When resources are low, it’s easy to write a bunch of Tweets or Facebook posts and shove them into Buffer. Picture the scene: there are hundreds of thousands of people in Times Square, New York, ready to see in the New Year. On Twitter, they see a post from the official US Strategic Command, saying they’re ready to “drop something.”
How about when Celeb Boutique spotted ‘Aurora’ trending on Twitter? It took just one member of the team to piggyback on the hashtag and make it about a dress they sell, oblivious to the fact the trend was for the Aurora movie theatre tragedy. (This wasn’t the first time a fashion brand has either naively or selfishly made light of a catastrophic event.)
It might seem logical to hit as many social media platforms as you can - it’s all brand awareness, right? - but if you lack a clear understanding of what each channel is for, it can be risky business. There are roughly 542 million monthly visitors to Reddit, with subreddits for every niche out there. It’s tempting to promote your business on one you see as relevant, but without understanding the reception promoted posts receive, it could be a waste of time and money.
People Online Can Be… Really Mean
People in real life can be really mean, but oh boy, crack knuckles, wait until you meet them online. On social, pretty much anything goes. Customers are able to vent at you with absolutely no limits, and not really suffer the consequences for it. Sometimes, businesses clap back because it’s kinda cool to not give a damn anymore. See Tesco, O2 and London Overground.
Whilst these might be in jest, it’s very easy for someone not used to the crappy nature of people online to take it a little too far. If social media is kept in-house, there’s every chance that a disgruntled employee might take it a little too far, and post something pretty damaging.
Mistakes Are Never Forgotten
Screenshots periodically ruin lines. It’s true that everything on the internet is gone and never forgotten, which is the case for most big online blunders. There are some debates over whether Donald Trump writes his own Tweets or not. If he doesn’t write his own Tweets, he should probably hire someone better. Remember that time he Tweeted ‘covfefe’? So does everyone else, as there are over 1,010,000 results for the word online.
If you’re an average business, the chances are your mistakes won’t be picked up so dramatically, but there’s still every chance that something you didn’t want to be posted could end up online, especially if you don’t have sufficient security measures in place. Case and point: a disgruntled StubHub employee in 2012, or when former Twitter COO Anthony Noto accidentally Tweeted what he thought was a DM.
You’ll Need Help When Everything’s on Fire
You decide to get a bit brave on Twitter and open up some banter between you and another business or person. It’s going fine, it’s pretty funny, but next thing you know: a semi-finalist on Britain’s Got Talent calls you out. The CEO finds out, the PR department is losing their minds and your manager doesn’t even know who Gary Lineker or Darren Altman are. This was a very real situation for Watford FC.
Amongst what was (probably) all the panic, it seemed to make sense that the Chairman and CEO of the club should compose and sign-off a Tweet, implying that the social media manager will probably be binned off - even though that’s explicitly what Gary Lineker didn’t want to happen.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed when something online gains traction, but there’s a key learning here: you need to trust your social media person. You should absolutely be able to rely on whoever is running your social channels, and be confident in their judgement. This whole ‘beef’ between Gary Lineker and Watford FC would probably have blown over if the CEO hadn’t stepped in and made it seem like a really big issue. If you feel the need to step in and hijack the plan of your social person or team, you’re probably not working with the right people.
Running social accounts successfully is much more than just sending a few Tweets every now and then. It requires a personalised, strategic approach and a confident, thick-skinned team. These are all important considerations to keep in mind when you’re considering keeping social in-house or hiring a specific team or agency to deal with it.
If you need a hand with your social media, get in touch and check how Fast Web can help out.