Why Community Management Should be an Inside Job
It wasn’t so long ago that social media was a new medium that brands did not have time to babysit. This meant that everything was outsourced to an agency. During those early stages, before anyone knew the time and level of effort necessary to manage a social community, agency budgets were relatively low.
Fast-forward a decade and a brand’s social presence is now one of the most important marketing outputs. Social now plays too vital a role in developing and maintaining customer relationships to be considered an outsourcing option. Instead, the smartest brands recognize community management as a necessary function of the internal marketing team. If you wisely recognize that community management is something that should continue to be part of your agency scope, consider the following:
1. You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression: While the old adage is applicable to many situations, social media may be the very best living example. Everything you say and do on social media is scrutinized and evaluated. Brands that do a nice job establish immediate clout. Those who treat social as an afterthought are both missing an opportunity and rendering themselves irrelevant. Brands must invest in grooming an internal community to ensure they have social as their primary focus, are responding with real-time information, and are using the appropriate tone.
2. Community managers must have access to the executive team: Whether a general comment, a specific complaint, or a reaction to a campaign, it’s impossible to predict every interaction through social media. While experience allows you to make educated guesses and prepare accordingly, there will always be an outlier that requires internal review. Community managers need to know the risk tolerance of the executive team and comfort level around appeasing and coddling a fan or follower. This intimate understanding of the lengths that the executive team is willing to take only comes from daily interaction. It can’t be done from a distance.
3. Time = Money: The amount of time necessary to successfully manage a complete social ecosystem is more than a full-time job. The more fiscally sound decision is to develop a salaried position versus an hourly or retainer-based agreement.
4. Agencies are a great compass: Social media is something that agencies know a lot about and are very good at when it comes to new products, strategies and best practices. It’s always a good idea to engage your agency for a playbook, insights into who’s doing it well – and who’s not - and general strategy. It’s also very helpful to have your agency expert on speed dial for when things take an unexpected turn. By bringing your agency in on an ad-hoc basis, you have a trusted resource that isn’t too close to the project to provide objective counsel.
Social media magnifies the inter-relationship between agencies and internal marketing teams. Both groups play a crucial role in overall success. By making social community management an internal function and utilizing the agency strategy, brands are most likely to have the most efficient, cost effective social media presence possible. As we all know too well, social touches every facet of marketing. It’s in everyone’s best interest to play it smart when dividing up the task of social management and execution.
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