A healthy skepticism goes a long way
CALGARY, AB, Jun 5, 2012/ Troy Media – Social media is such a hot topic right now, especially in corporate communications, it’s really easy to slip in the snake oil. Supposed experts, many at traditional agencies, are coming out of the woodwork and providing all kinds of dubious advice.
Each week as I scan the social media marketing landscape I find myself shaking my head over some wrongheaded move initiated by a supposedly reputable agency. Here’s a sampling of the latest head-shakers:
1. Click Like to win
Traditional agencies are hot to run Facebook contests. It syncs up with their enthusiasm to build “buzz” over product launches, grand openings, and such. Trouble is they have no idea how to run them and they risk getting their clients kicked off Facebook for violations of the terms of service. Here’s a teeny snippet of what Facebook has to say on this topic:
If you use Facebook to communicate about or administer a promotion (such as a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements . . . Promotions are subject to many regulations and if you are not certain that your promotion complies with applicable law, please consult with an expert.”
It goes on to say all contests on Facebook must be run through a special application or by pulling your own web page into a sort of Facebook frame called a Canvas Page.
Apparently the agency advising a candy maker I spotted recently couldn’t bother to concern themselves with such trivialities as rules. Imagine the embarrassment of building up fans just to lose them because of sloppy administration.
2. Build it and they will come
A couple days ago I got an email from a trusted colleague asking whether her client was getting good advice from some other agency. The agency had recommended building a white-label social network to a client that has struggled to blog, tweet or spend any time on Facebook.
Under the right circumstances a private network can be exactly the right thing. When there’s strong common interests and passion, when that interest is not well served elsewhere on the social web, when there’s exclusivity, rarity or scarcity involved (VIP club), a private network can be just the thing.
But be aware that getting people off the network they are already on (say Facebook) and onto your new network is a monumental undertaking that will require intense community management and promotion.
For a client who forgets to blog for weeks at a time, this is highly unlikely to work.
3. Return on engagement
While CFOs have been busy asking what the payback is on this social media activity (rightly so), some agencies have slipped into claiming return on investment (ROI) is unnecessary and return on engagement (talking to lots of folks) is good enough.
That’s not how business works.
In the same way I can’t tell you the ROI of your phone or your email account, I can’t directly tell you the ROI of social media. Properly crafted campaigns, however, aimed at resolving business problems are highly measurable.
If your agency hasn’t suggested several ways to prove “your social media worked” after some reasonable period of time, they are failing you.
4. Turn it on if you need it
Finally, a prospect recently told me its agency claimed they could sit out of social media for now and only turn it on in the event of a crisis or emergency. That’s like asking your old high school buddy to come help you move after you’ve been out of touch 20 years. It’s rude. If the crisis is big enough or you throw enough money at it, you might get away with this, but it’s silly to think you can make friends in your moment of need.
Agencies want to do the right thing, but they are floundering like everyone else. Your best bet is to ask why. Why should we run this contest? Why don’t other companies do it this way? Why would anyone come to our Facebook knock-off? Why shouldn’t social media work prove its value to the organization? Why would anyone listen to us if we ignored him or her until we had a crisis?
A healthy skepticism is a good thing in this world of social media marketing. Ask for proof of success, references, and tangible results. It could save you from slipping in the snake oil.
Tags: ad agency, agency, business, Canvas Page, corporate, corporate communications, facebook, facebook contests, marketing agency, pr agency, private network, promotions, return on engagement, return on investment, ROI, skepticism, Social Media, social media activity, social media marketing, traditional agencies, white-label social network