Topshop has gone out of business this week. Once seen as an indestructible titan of the high street, its fall has been momentous. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the chain’s owner, Philip Green, did not own a smartphone and did not believe in social media.
Amazingly Green is not alone. So many of the successful businesses of the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, have fallen woefully behind when it comes to digital marketing. It is not unusual for companies employing dozens to thousands of people to have never developed a social media strategy or team. No-one is in charge and Twitter updates are left to interns.
Having the Facebook page for your company opened, but updating it once every two weeks, or having an inactive Twitter account without understanding how exactly it works, only shows how these companies have fallen behind the times.
New businesses are already ahead; you’re starting fresh and only have to learn, not unlearn. Whatever stage of development you are at, if your business has decided to invest in social media management, there are several options.
Social media marketing is still perceived as quite a burden at some smaller organizations. It is usual that in these small companies general office administrators, especially receptionists and office coordinators, have been asked to manage social media. The main problem with this is that office administrators are already busy managing office resources, meetings, calendars, events, random, and trivia. Imagine mixing in the time-consuming development of social media strategy and management.
That doesn’t mean that these people are not intelligent enough or less qualified than anyone else at a company to handle the responsibility. Admin staff may technically be the right candidates to handle the day-to-day brand storytelling and social media management, but it cannot be an add-on to an already busy schedule. If you want to assign social media management to the admin team, then make sure that they are trained and that time is allocated and reserved for the task.
The Communications Department
Social streams being managed by communications personnel sounds like a better idea since anyone working in communications should be a great writer, with an educational background. They will know how to promote new and existing products distributed by press releases, strategic trade shows, and exhibitions and it’s something they do very well. But depending on the focus of your communications team or person, it’s likely they will have a strength in either brand-building or news management, not both.
Plus, if your business does have a communications team, it is likely to be small. Yet again social media marketing can quickly drop off the list as a nice-to-do, rather than a must-do. The PR department is full of great writers of press releases and they’d be perfect for igniting the company blog, but they are unlikely to be great audio-visual content creators.
The Marketing Department
Your marketing people or person makes the most sense for social media management in any business. Firstly, they are directly focused on sales and data, so it is not hard to justify the investment of time and budget in social media promotions. Your marketing team will have skills in digital analytics and be able to show the impact of social media engagement.
Secondly, any marketer worth their salt will have good social media training and the skill set to match. They will understand how to use and target clients via the various social media platforms to drive sales directly or via the company website.
But social media remains an incredibly fast-moving phenomenon. With the best will in the world, a generalist marketing team will struggle to stay up-to-date with the latest tactics and strategies.
Social Media Agency
Working with external social media specialists enables your business or marketing team to stay at the cutting edge and also manage their budget efficiently. You can bring in specialists to help with strategy and outsource tactical implementation to a range of creatives who are the best fit for the image and ethos you want to promote. That includes graphic designers, animators, photographers, video producers and editors as well as copywriters, social media managers, social media advertising and pay-per-click experts.
Some agencies offer a one-stop-shop where they bring all of those specialists together and provide a seamless service. For companies in need of a social media agency, start by checking out their own social media channels and client case studies. Believe the evidence, not the hype! Logically, social media agencies that have the strongest talent for building social media communities through brand storytelling are doing the same for their social media channels. They should be engaging a targeted audience through content on their social streams.
Also, pay attention to the types of business your short-list of agencies works with. Some of the agencies have more specialized expertise with certain industries while others focus on small businesses.
What are the Benefits of Hiring a Social Media Agency?
Hiring an outside agency is worth considering whatever size your business is. If you’re a minnow, then you could be looking at getting in specialist help to put together a simple social media strategy and a hiring part-time social media manager to put it into action. For a larger company, a social media agency could be an essential complement to your marketing team.
As well as bringing in fresh thinking about content ideas and campaign strategies, working with an agency also helps you gain more affordable access to a full suite of paid tools that can benefit businesses with scheduling posts, reporting, analytics, and more. A social media strategy agency will study your previous social media campaigns and perform audits and look for ways to optimize. They will also take time to evaluate your competition to find what could work best for your company’s brand and goals.
It’s also worth mentioning, that in this age of viral distress as well as delight, working with an agency could also save you a lot of trouble. Stories of the intern Tweeting out embarrassing and damaging responses to customers and stakeholders are legion. A bad social media campaign could be devastating for your brand and business, and it’s not only about not being desirable. What if you accidentally post something on social media that violates copyrights or gets your social media accounts suspended or even results in a lawsuit? It happens quite often; working with experts helps you avoid those public relations nightmares.
Any business can reach significantly more customers and increase revenue if it successfully utilizes social media marketing. It is by far the most effective way to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences who could potentially become customers, but only if it’s used the right way.