I am going to review Gary Vaynerchuck’s new book "The Thank You Economy” on March 8, but I wanted to share this long quote with you now because I so strongly agree and am glad someone as influential as Gary said it:
Ninety-five percent of the worst social media engagement I’ve seen was produced by PR companies that were hired to manage a brand’s profiles, pages, or blogs. Please, companies, stop hiring your PR companies to do your community management. PR is in the push business; they send out press releases and book appearances and work B2B. They’re used to talking with editors, writers, and producers, not the public. They have no idea what is going on in the trenches, and they’re awkward and shaky when they try to go there. The only reason PR claims they can do it is because they see which way the wind is blowing, and it’s not toward them. They’ll say anything to avoid losing your business....Select the employees who know your business well, and care about it as much as you do, and can demonstrate quick, creative thinking, flexibility, and compassion. Those are the people you want representing your brand to the masses. If you don’t feel like you have the knowledge in-house, hire a company to get the ball rolling and train your staff, then hand the reins off to your team.
Thank you! I can smell an agency voice at your site easily because they don’t really engage. They work on the tell and the sell and neglect the process of developing authentic conversation around helpful social objects. It’s very unremarkable, the exact opposite of what your business really needs to leverage the tremendous opportunity these new social platforms provide.
As David M. Scott so correctly points out, there is only one question you need to ask someone before you hire them to help you with social media - show me your social media presence. If they can’t blog, tweet, and run a Facebook page successfully for themselves, how are they going to be able to do it for you? If the person your hired or the one they assigned to help you can’t get their own name to appear at the very top of a Google search, thank them for their time and move on.
The most powerful voices you have available to truly engage your customers belong to you and your employees. Get outside help if and when you need it, but never surrender your voice. You don't have to do it all, but we do need to know you are there and personally engaged somewhere in the process. If you aren't there, it's because you simply don't care.
In his new book Enchantment (which I will also review on March 8), Guy Kawasaki defines enchantment as the process of delighting people with your product or service so much that you produce a voluntary and long-lasting support that is mutually beneficial (p. xix). Trust me, your agency lackey has ZERO chance of enchanting YOUR customers. Only you and your employees can do that on the front lines of your business and online as well, and if you are not enchanting them, they are not being enchanted.
Unless, of course, your competition is enchanting them.