The Surprising Difficulty With Online Social Media

I find it both sad and funny that many web companies are now offering to create Social Networking pages for their clients. While Social Media pages such as Facebook and LinkedIn are good to have (heck, we’ve been creating these for our clients for awhile now), the problem is not that our clients can’t create them — it’s that they cannot manage them. The end result is that the client has a Social Networking page, but it’s useless because nobody from the client’s side has the time or knowledge to add events, photos, links, etc. When this occurs, nobody wins. The client isn’t happy. Their customers think the client doesn’t care. And the vendor simply says that they did what they promised.

We know better.

Last year, we created for our clients a variety of online tools, including Social Networking pages, E-Blasting modules, custom created blogs, CRM systems, etc. We devoted no less than two half-day sessions for hands-on training so that all who worked with the tools would be comfortable. Yet even with great tools and a great education, our clients were not actively managing the pages or sending out eblasts.

The problem wasn’t that they didn’t want to work with the tools or couldn’t, but rather that the responsibilites were foreign to them. These people charged with creating content and running the program were mostly sales people. They were used to selling face to face. Asking them to write blogs and eblasts, or to manage a Facebook page put them outside their comfort zones. Indeed, not many people are comfortable right off the bat with cropping and resizing images, writing catchy headlines for eblasts, or even writing long form content for blogs. Sales people want to sell. They want the leads brought to them because they do their best in front of people. They know little about how to generate the leads, other than through phone calls. So this reaction really shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone.

So why are companies selling this service, where they simply create the page and leave it to the client to manage? Likely because the vendor isn’t too familiar with how it works, or they are unfamiliar with how your company works.

We didn’t make that mistake. That is why in addition to effectively building Social Media pages, we also manage them for our clients by adding events, photos, stories, and links. We write and publish the blogs, write and manage the distribution of the eblasts. All with the client having final approval on everything.

Plus, we track everything we do online by inserting coded links into our writing. By doing this, we’re able to show CFOs that our work generated X number of appointments, X number of people to the website, or even X number of buyers. We create and present a report on all our activity in all online media at least once every month.

The point here is that starting a Social Networking page for your company is not a task to take lightly. Yes, it can be built rather easily. But the real key is that it must be maintained — and that’s not so easy. So if in doubt, talk to someone who knows how it works and how it can work for you.