Today’s company dujour are social media management companies. These are companies that offer everything from brand management to social media development, management and marketing for their clients. They may combine services like graphic design, website development, and content creation.
But are they really using some of the services they’re trying to sell you?
The reason that I ask this is that lately I’ve received many new followers via Twitter that call themselves social or brand management companies. They tout services like the ones I’ve mentioned above but when it comes to the “social” types of services they offer, ie blogging, social media, social networking, and content creation (all key elements in marketing across social networks) – they aren’t practicing what they’re preaching (or selling in this case). To me, that’s like selling ebooks when you refuse to read anything that isn’t made of paper.
So what are many of these companies doing wrong?
Amateur First Impressions
In the world of social media and building a social presence, your profile is the first thing people see. It’s imperative that if you’re representing or selling social media or social networking services that your business profile is complete. Unfortunately I’ve seen a lot of profiles that are incomplete or lacking in any kind of originality. And let’s be honest, if you’re going to pay someone to promote and build your business – shouldn’t they at the very least have a stand out social profile as well, otherwise how can you ask them to build yours?
No Product Usage
Gone are the days of salespeople who believe in or have extensive knowledge of the products that they sell. About a week ago I saw on a company’s website that they were offering services for a social networking site that they don’t even use. The first rule of offering services like these is to be using them yourself. Either for your business or personally. I couldn’t teach someone how to drive a stick shift because I don’t know how to do it. And when you think about it, would you want someone to teach you how to use a product or a service if they don’t even have familiarity with it?
Check out their employees, find out who runs the show in social and then don’t be afraid to ask where their social profiles are. It’s like asking to see the product in use before you buy it and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Disengaged (the 12 year old thought of this one)
So now you’re checking out their social networks and profiles. You’re digging into their twitter and Facebook pages to see what they’re saying but are you looking at who they’re saying it to? They’re likely only talking to one another or worse yet, no one at all.
Sigh. This is where I get sad and a little ill. What’s the point of offering social media marketing services if there’s no engagement? Here’s the most important thing you need to know about social media marketing; your clients, your customers, want to engage with you. Anyone who tells you that the only reason that they’re following, liking or tweeting you is to buy from you is full of garbage. Do they want to buy? Yes, but your community really wants to engage and get to know you. I recently listened to a Social Media Examiner podcast (this is my FAVORITE) marketing podcast by the way), where Michael Stelzner talks about How to Build Relationships with Jeff Korhan and two things were key:
- People really want to know you – they can’t do that if you’re not engaging.
- No one ever buys from a business – they buy from a person (paraphrasing Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn).
I firmly believe these statements to be true. In the world of Big Box Walmarts and Super Stores, consumers are searching for that personal connection to their purchases now more than ever before; their money is valuable and to get them to part with it they must feel trust in you. I personally would rather buy from someone who’s taken the time to engage and interact with me. It builds trust and trust converts to sales.
Which leads me to my last pet peeve –
Build the kind of following that you, yourself would follow
I do not have 20,000+ followers on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter. But, I do feel like I’ve built a solid following. I’ve done that through interaction and carefully building out that network by finding interesting people (not customers). There seems to be a belief that just signing up for the social networks you want to offer services for puts you in a position of authority.
Signing up for those social networks and building your following and network through conversation and collaboration makes you someone who is approachable. I like to do business with approachable people. Once again this is where I tell you to take a look at their following through the social networks they want to manage and build for you. If there isn’t a strong following and you don’t see the engagement, speak up and ask. You’re making an investment in them and their knowledge of these networks: If they can’t tell you what they’re doing to build their following or why they aren’t, then consider looking for another social media adviser.
While I was writing this article, I asked my network of community managers what they look at when considering working with a business or individual who claims to specialize in social media marketing or social media branding. By and large the feedback reverberated what I wrote here: They look at the company’s social profiles, they Google search them and their employees and they tend to steer clear of anyone who claims to be an expert because let’s face it; if you hang your hat on claiming to be an expert or specialize in social media, branding or social media marketing, then you should be very active within that space.
I definitely don’t claim to be an expert of any kind; what I do claim is to be passionate about social media and the networks that I use. I think that, is the very least you should want from someone who sells you social media management services.
I’d love to know what you look for in a social media marketing or social branding company. Share your thoughts in the comments!