I guess it is common for individuals to hastily jump on the social media wagon. I did it, and several years later, I still learn something new every day. For some reason, though, it surprises me when some businesses are quick to climb aboard and hire folks who say they’re Social Media Specialist without having any Marketing or Customer Service skills.
Social media is such a broad term. It’s fun to engage in it. Everyone wants a part of it. We may even benefit from it. Yes, it’s free… and literally just about anyone can do it. So why should businesses be any different, right? Why should they care if their Social Media Manager has no idea about Brand Identity, Creative Strategy, or Holding Power. Is it really necessary for them to practice Conflict Resolution or Stress Management skills? Would it matter if their Copy writing and Editing had errors? Some businesses are actually okay with their prospective employee simply having 500 followers, a blog in their own name, or a Facebook page history of 3 years.
I find that there is usually a noticeable difference between a business page run by a true social media professional versus a self-proclaimed guru.
I feel I should state here that I am neither. I have worked in Advertising & Marketing since 1999 and Customer Service for nearly 20 years. Even as an Art Director, I felt that I was never a guru in anything. However, daily I bring a new outlook from both Marketing and Customer Service that I try to convey in social media. I use social media in my line of work; social media is NOT my line of work.
The current fad on social media sites, like Facebook, are contests. I actually have one running right now through JennB.Creative. Contests generally are not a bad thing. It’s a great way to gain Likes or Followers, and create a buzz for your business. Where I feel businesses go wrong is selecting contests that are too far removed from the services that they offer, and failing to maintain the contest throughout its course.
I recently stumbled across a social media contest from a large car dealership. The dealership wants to give back to their community, so they created a 4-week Animal Rescue Contest. In researching their page, I was unable to obtain a written copy of the official rules. (Mistake #1 – Rules should always be clearly posted.) It appears organizations are allowed to post multiple photos of animals on the dealership’s wall as a means to campaign for votes. One participant even questioned if she was allowed to also post photos of animals that her rescue group had up for adoption. The dealership replied that it was okay to advertise the animals. (Mistake #2 – Limit the amount of wall posts from an organization to avoid a Spam-like appearance.) What I found most bothersome by this contest was the fact that – if I were a customer of the dealership who may frequent their page for oil & filter specials, recall information, or to preview their new car releases – all I see are photos of dogs. What do dogs have to do with this dealership? Is it really worth losing the Likes of loyal customers in order to gain 100 new Likes, who may Unlike you once the contest is over? I think the contest is truly a nice gesture. I am just not sure that it was well thought out from a Marketing and Customer Service standpoint. I literally had to scroll through weeks of photos and contest posts in order to find the last post made by the dealership. (Mistake #3 – Manage the contest and page as frequently as necessary in an effort to maintain the value of your page prior to the contest.) Contests should not inconvenience your customers or potentially damage your social media reputation.
Social media is a constantly evolving avenue that no one may fully master. However, the basics behind social media – Marketing and Customer Service – are fairly cut and dry. I encourage companies to not lose sight of these two important business factors. Remember to use social media as the tool that it is and not the lifeline that many want it to become.