September 23, 2009

Trusted v. Untrusted

Posted in Industry Standards, Social Media at 9:40 am by R

A few posts back, I addressed the ethical ranking of public relations professionals. And frankly, we’re a morally solvent bunch. Though, there is an emerging crowd who have coined themselves as experts in social media…and their tactics for securing business are not so morally solvent.

These experts come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds — so beware.

For many, the question becomes how to find a social media resource you can trust. Here are a few red flags, in my opinion:

  1. One size does NOT fit all — businesses have different communications strategies to reach different audiences. Naturally, it follows that a company must have a completely unique  social media strategy (they’re like fingerprints really). Therefore, anyone offering social media success based on one platform or formula = suspicious.
  2. Tell me about your background — PR practitioner, communications director, digital media specialist or internet guru. GOOD. Knife salesman, personal assistant, travel agent = suspicious. Not to say that the latter examples don’t have some level of experience, but can they rock the strategic implementation?
  3. It’s a guarantee — if this person guarantees they will work hard to understand your business and deploy a social media strategy  customized to achieve specific business goals…GOOD. Promises a specific number of followers or any other metric = suspicious.

So how do you spot qualities in the ones you can trust? SmartBlog on Social Media @SBoSM put up a great post about some of the less tangible qualities one should consider in candidates as they build their social media team or select an outside vendor.

  1. PassionAndy Sernovitz (who authored the post) notes that this is something that can’t be taught or trained. Your team needs to have the proverbial fire in their bellies when it comes to your brand.
  2. Don’t measure candidates/agencies by number of followers — Sernovitz points out that any spammer can have a thousand followers overnight. I’d like to add to his thoughts here though — take a look at who your potential team member/agency is following and is followed by. Size up the quality of their network.
  3. Look for helpers — Because social media is as much a customer service tool as it is a communications tool, your team should be comprised of people who love to help people. Making meaningful information accessible and understandable for a variety of social media audiences is a big task not for the faint of heart. Your team should be equipped with the desire to learn (from good and bad experiences) and help make the social media experience with your brand even better.

The right team, either built internally or found externally, will be slightly different for every company. But any business looking to bring in social media minds ought to be aware of these criteria to find the right fit (re: Trusted v. Untrusted) and create success for their brand in social media.

~R

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