I was at a networking event last week, talking with a few folks, when I ran into someone who introduced himself as a “social media guru.” I didn’t end up getting his card, but I’ll bet that’s probably even what his title says on it. And hey, to a lot of folks this is a great time to be a social media guru. I mean after all, there’s no test you have to pass and many people will even buy the idea that as long as you are out there promoting things it’s working. For the last year or so there seems to be a gold rush, anyone and everyone is touting their social media expertise, and many companies are buying this as THE place to be.
Look, I’m not here to bash social media – despite what you may think after reading that last paragraph (OK, to be fair maybe the headline too). Actually, chances are high you may initially come across this post through your own use of social media. Where I think the problem lies is more in this idea of social media as a magic bullet rather than one of many arrows available in your quiver. Mike talked about this before in You Don’t Need a Social Media Superhero.
At its core, social media is a tactic – a piece of the overall marketing puzzle to consider just like anything else. And, as we discussed in the past that a tactic like SEO alone won’t solve all your problems (The Danger of Having A Hammer), it’s important to stay away from relying on only one tactic.
So, with that in mind, here are a few things to keep in mind before you run off, hire a “social media guru” to solve all your problems, and call it a day:
1). Make sure your messages in social media are in line with your company’s core messaging – this is critically important.
If you haven’t already, this is one more reason to develop a core messaging document. Learn how in my last post Who Are You? The 5 Key Components of a Core Messaging Document. Whoever you bring in should be able to recite the key pieces of that messaging document and be fully aligned with the company’s core values.
2). Like many other marketing channels, social media fails without quality content.
Make sure you have a content plan in place that provides timely, relevant quality content as a base. Otherwise, those 140 character tweets that don’t take people anywhere for the rest of the story tend to lose their impact pretty quickly. Or, as we often say — It’s like a newspaper that’s all headlines, no story. Make sure whoever you bring in can write well – or at a minimum that you are prepared to allocate additional resources for content creation.
3). Show me you understand more than just social media. What else can you do?
This one won’t apply to all situations, but my preference is to have someone that does more than just focus on social media and understands much more about marketing as a discipline. Show me you want to know what’s happening with the rest of our marketing. Sure, if you are Zappos, Comcast, Sears or some other folks social media may be a full-time job, but chances are at most of our companies it’s not.
When done right, social media can be a very effective piece of the overall marketing mix. But keep in mind in most cases that’s exactly how it’s done right – as part of a larger mix. In the case of the person I spoke with at the networking event, he was definitely a one trick pony. Which is fine, but it has to be a really good trick.
OK, now go Like this on Facebook and Tweet all about it.