Sunday, 10 April 2011

Who should look after a brand’s social media?

Social media is big news and brands are cottoning on to the fact that it is a very powerful medium and should be incorporated into their marketing plans. The trouble is, while most brands know they should be utilising social media, they don’t necessarily know how to go about doing it... and do it well.

So it makes sense then to call in the experts. But who should look after your brand’s social media? Someone in-house, the PR team, a dedicated social media agency, or someone else? I often see news articles and opinion pieces that argue this point, usually with PR agencies saying it’s the PR’s role, social media agencies saying it should be handled by an agency dedicated to social media... you catch my drift.

As my company specialises in social media for beauty brands I find it a very interesting debate and so I found myself thinking ‘who is the best person for the job?’. I could of course do myself a favour and say it should be someone who specialises in social media... oh, that would be me!

But actually, I think ‘which creative team should look after my social media’ doesn’t have a definitive answer. Because potentially, any of the aforementioned teams could do a good job of working on a brand’s social media. Instead, there are two key things to consider:
1.    Whoever you choose to look after your social media should completely understand how to maximise the activity and create a social media marketing plan with a 1 month, 3 month, 6 month and 1 year strategy, rather than just setting up Twitter and Facebook pages and reaching out to a few bloggers and hoping for the best.
2.    The person/team looking after your social media should dedicate a decent amount of time to working on it each week, rather than it just being an afterthought and banging out a few emails and Facebook/Twitter updates at the end of the day.

Social media should be fully integrated within all teams, to ensure a cohesive approach across all of your company’s activity. Before setting up your social media strategy it should be discussed between all your teams together, from marketing to PR, sales to customer service, product development and so on, to identify and meet each of their needs.

Ask your departments – what are your overall aims and objectives? Then discuss how social media can be a part of their activity to meet these objectives and maximise activity. For instance, product development could use social media for customer feedback and market research for new products. Customer service could use social media to answer queries and complaints, and turn negative feedback into a positive experience. Social media could create newsworthy campaigns that PR can then promote to the press.

The important thing is that one person/team should lead and manage this process, creating and implementing a plan based on all of these needs, with input and instigation from each of the teams where necessary. This person/team should be focused on planning and implementing the activity, with regular updates and feedback across all of the teams who can add their own input and findings – which can then be acted upon quickly.

Social media by its very nature is immediate and reactive, so the social media marketing plan doesn’t need to be set in stone; it just needs to be a guide to ensure there is consistent and regular activity that meets the brand’s aims, rather than ending up just doing social media for social media’s sake. Because social media is so interactive with your consumers it can be unpredictable and is a constant learning curve, so learn from each activity and adjust your marketing plan to suit.

Having said all this social media can also be used for standalone activity, for example a one-off blogger outreach campaign, particularly if you are a small company and don’t have the luxury of PR and marketing teams. For instance I recently did a one-off 3 month blogger outreach campaign for a small beauty brand where the owner was regularly overseas. In this instance I had a clear brief of the campaign’s objectives and got on and did my job, simply updating her regularly on my progress by email.

But that is the beauty of social media; whether you are a big company or a small brand, you can make social media work for you, based on your needs and budget. Just make sure you know your aims before you begin and ensure your planned activity meets these aims. And whoever has the expertise in social media and is prepared to dedicate the time to it for your brand, is the person/team that is most suited to work on your social media.

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