Last week there were a lot of discussions among on-line social media marketers about Peter Shankman’s blog: Why I Will Never, Ever Hire A “Social Media Expert.” The blog had the effect of saying the Emperor had no clothes and generated a lot of comments including this great response from Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz: Everyone Should Hire ‘Social Media Experts.’ I’ve been following the conversation in a few different areas including a discussion in the LinkedIn Group: Social Media Mastery for Business Leaders.
With such lines as “Being an expert in social media is like being an expert at taking the bread out of the refrigerator,” and, “If you have a social media expert on your payroll, you’re wasting your money,” Shankman seems to be saying social media is a waste of time. He also uses a broad brush that paints “Social Media Experts” in the least flattering terms. Further reading shows that is not really his point. His point is that “Social media is just another facet of marketing and customer service.” By itself social media does nothing. It has to be part of a marketing plan that reaches out to your customers and clients. Your company needs to have great customer service, a product, and a marketing plan to reach out to your customers and generate revenue.
There is a lot of honest disagreement about the exact goals of any marketing plan and the role of social media in that marketing plan. Is the goal to increase revenue, connect with customers, or raise awareness? Each organization’s goals will be different and their use of social media will be different. Can social media be an important part of your marketing plan? It sure can, if you have specific goals and you measure the outcome but not if you just employ social media for its own sake. Can social media affect the bottom line? One of the earliest studies to show this was ENGAGEMENTdb Ranking the Top 100 Global Brands from Altimeter. The study showed that deep brand engagement in social media correlates with financial performance. The caveat is that brands needed more than just breadth of engagement across multiple channels, they also needed depth of engagement. In other words it was not sufficient to set up a Twitter account or even Twitter, Facebook, Foresquare and Flickr accounts. The company needed to be deeply engaged and interact with their customers and fans on social media.
When you do hire a social media marking consultant or online marketing company ask them these questions:
- How does social media fit into my company’s marketing plan?
- What platforms or channels are best for my company or organization?
- How will using these channels achieve our organization’s goals?
- What will be the measure of success? What metrics will you use?
No one involved with social media or on-line marketing will claim that one solution will solve all of a company’s problems nor will they claim the results be instant. Social media marketing is a long term, not a quick fix, solution. As the Altimeter report shows, deep involvement is vital. If you would like to see how your website is performing contact Image Media Partners for a free analysis of your website’s social media plan.
Photo Credit: Emerson Ricardo Zamprogno