Those of us who work in social media swear by certain words, like ‘engagement’ or ‘interactive’. Clients, new to social media and the digital space, will look suitably impressed with such words and quickly hand over their social media duties, a chunky retainer and their first-born, in an attempt to make their brand appeal to the younger generation.
But over time, they believe they know enough about the digital medium and now want to take control. Here are a few of the many clichés you will hear your client spout.
1. ‘Social media, yes, we are doing that in-house.’
Great, so you have a writer, a designer and a social media executive? That’s fantastic. But we know what you’re really saying is that you have hired a fresh faced BMM student whose degree is still warm in his hands. I have absolutely nothing against freshers, but the fact that you are willing to put your brand’s presence into the hands of a young 23 year old, worries me terribly.
They do not have the expertise or the bandwidth to handle your digital presence. While you may think Facebook posts and tweets require no special skills, they do require a certain degree of maturity your ‘in-house’ resource cannot provide. Agencies come with certain skill sets, strategies, and creative strength– which is why you hire them. You wouldn’t allow a 5-year old to design your brochure, right? We didn’t think so.
2. ‘We think our Social Media should talk about the brand’
Let me start by telling you, no one, absolutely no one, except the 2 guys on your team care that you made 80,000 kms of pipe. While you want to brag about it like it’s the next best thing since sliced bread, this number and achievement means nothing to the consumer and affects them in no way. Which means it won’t work, and you should stop trying so hard.
Of course, content on your page should be about your brand, but the most important thing is that it needs to be presented well. It needs to be made to look smart and spiffy. Let’s take the same post about the 80,000 kms of pipe, and look at it this way: ‘In 2010, we made pipes that could go around the earth twice. Yes, a whole 80,000 kms of the earth’s circumference.’ This gives them a context and is done in an interesting manner.
Let me put it this way. The audience engages with you because it does something for their image. Give them content that makes them look good in their peer group and in turn the fans will automatically do the amplification for you.
3. ‘What is the ROI on social media?’
Brace yourself, dear clients. In monetary terms, your ROI is nothing. Zilch. Nada. It’s not like one ‘like’ on the page is going to sell one tube of your product. Just because they like, comment on or share posts, doesn’t mean they are going to run to the nearest store and buy everything off the shelf.
Retweeting or liking your tweet doesn’t mean they won’t look at price or quality. Fans and followers learning about your products isn’t going to necessarily drive sales. And if you are on social media for that, you are in it for the wrong reasons. What social media can do though is build brand affinity.
What brand affinity does, is induce a liking for your product, for your values, and for your philosophy. It can give your brand a personality and a back story. Social media is for conversation and for engagement, and you absolutely cannot seat yourself in some far off ivory tower. Social media is really humbling in that way.
4. ‘Can we delete all negative posts and comments?’
If I had a penny for the number of times I have heard this, I would be have bought Antilla by now. Dear client, yes, we can delete every negative story about your brand. But really, you are on networks that require you to listen. Really listen, instead of just supplying people with stock responses and dated placeholder messages.
Every single fan or follower sees through that. And the longer a brand continues to feed standard responses on social platforms, the quicker it becomes jaded and starts to resemble a plain, old boring fart. Nobody wants a ‘Thank you for sharing your experience, we will get back to you shortly’.
Just like in the offline universe, you need to be proactive, respond to all conversations directed at you and pursue the commentator to change the experience of the brand. No, we cannot call them and offer them a free meal. Your team has to do that.
5. ‘Images, yes what can we do about that?’
Of course we can use Google images. So can 40,000 other brands out there. Unfortunately for us, most social networks still allow for images that appear in searches to be used. That stock photography website you use? Yes, everyone has access to that as well. To really make social media work for you, let your images do the talking.
Hire a photographer, pay them to get great images and put these up on social platforms. More often than not, an agency will be willing to walk you through the process of shooting for social media. Your brand can look fabulous strutting its stuff in high-resolution glory.
Think of the networks as a visual catalogue of your brand that can be leveraged for conversation. If you are keen on differentiating yourself, you have to do it by creating visual content that is powerful and pleasing. Don’t compromise on the quality of images or the resolution, because that would just be shooting yourself in the foot.
6. ‘I want to be on all platforms’
When it comes to getting the maximum bang for your buck, marketing people can get extremely greedy. We understand, it’s a real score if you can get the agency to update your Facebook page, tweet for you, pin for you, upload videos and possibly create a corporate page, and of course, troll all forums as well. May I stop you there for a second?
Let’s take a step back and take stock of the situation. You are a brand of toilet paper, do you really need to be on Pinterest? What about your video content? TVCs are expensive to make and you have one to launch now but are you constantly going to be shooting video content to keep your Youtube channel alive? No? Then let’s not get into it.
The worst social media plan is to launch yourself with much fanfare and then let the network die a slow, painful death due to lack of content. Allow the agency to suggest platforms to you and take the ones you think you can sustain.
7. ‘Gratification? Let’s give them merchandise and a discount’
No. Absolutely not. Your fans and followers are not idiots, so you need to stop treating them like that. If you are going to run a contest, offer a reward that is substantial and that will encourage further interaction with the brand. Ask them to share picture and stories about their prizes.
If the gratification is interesting, most fans will oblige. It truly is a quality game here and not about quantity at all. An easy way to invite backlash is to expect winners to buy something for them to be able to claim their prize. Lastly, I don’t mean to be rude but absolutely no one is going to prance around town in your ugly branded t-shirt, so just hand it out to your employees and be done with it. And while we are at it, no one ever uses those keychains either.
8. ‘ Send us everything for approval’
You called for a social media pitch. You sat through endless presentations about your product. You chose an agency. At this point, both parties assume that it was an informed decision made in the state of full wakefulness.
As a social media agency, and this may come as a surprise to you, our core responsibility is to make your product look good on social networks. Also, you are just venturing out into the digital field, we have been here for a while. Posts, tweets, board names etc. are made keeping in mind your brand.
Asking you what we should say to a comment and whether we should retweet something is an exercise that is painful and annoying. Not to mention, these are time-sensitive, So, trust your good judgment and ours and let us take a call on a few things that need urgent attention.
9. ‘ We want to trend’
This is when clients decide they have had enough of logic and strategy. All they want now is their hashtag to trend on Twitter. Trending is good. You will be seen by a lot more people, you might have a spike in followers and you certainly will get interaction.What it doesn’t do is replace relevant and interesting content.
Also, having a hashtag that is completely disconnected to the brand but using it only because of its potential to trend is social media suicide. Like the many brands that like to play with ‘ReplaceMovieNamesWith’ while they are trying to get people to buy green tea.
A leading ice cream brand recently used a piggybacked on an upcoming movie’s title to gain some followers. A quick reality check here. A hashtag needs only a few social executives with a decent following to tweet quickly and consistently using it to trend. There, now you know.