10 frustrating comments people make when you are developing your social media strategy

We speak to brands “on the reg” with a similar set of circumstances: social media has grown organically over time within the organisation, there is lots of activity (some of it really rather good) but no one really knows why they are doing it! They set out on a journey to define the role of social within the organisation, what does best-in-class look like and create an organisational structure that enables real-time, relevance at scale…

This journey (and it really is a journey, an iterative process, a winding path) is not an easy one, and in all honesty one that will never really be complete as the world and world place morphs and changes around us. However, there are certainly some best practices that can be put in place, some frameworks to follow and measures to help track successes, failures and learnings.

But, as anyone knows who has embarked on this journey, or even has threatened to start it knows, there are some tremendously frustrating internal battles to take on. In some cases these come in the form of ill-informed or misguided opinions which can be swayed over time. Some are blind ignorance, or half stories, a viewpoint from their business areas perspective. I thought, as a sort of therapy to those in this position, I would share 10 that spring to mind for me. I’ve done my best to externalise how you actually feel or what you think inside (I’ve written it from a me POV because largely, I feel exactly the same):

“Social media is just for customer service”

Grrrr. Sure, customer service via social media, the front line of customer interaction, is vital to get right. But brands who have this viewpoint are potentially missing out on huge opportunities, even with the most enthusiastic, efficient, delighting customers workforce in the world.

Largely customer service is a reactive exercises triggered by a query or a complaint. Moving from the back foot to the front foot, and from reactive to pro-active use of social media is where the win areas are. Only this week did I come across an internal team drowning in customer queries, inadequately resourced by the contact centre sucking valuable hours  (and the soul)  out of the marketing team.

If it was just about customer service, then it should just sit in the customer service team shouldn’t it?!

“You can just turn it off, when things go wrong!”

Believe it or not I have also heard this quite recently. I mean yes, technically you can shut down the channels, but it doesn’t stop customers talking or the problem go away… You see… oh never mind


“How much? It’s all free isn’t it?!”

“Again, yes technically it doesn’t cost money to have a Facebook page” you begin, counting to 10 in your head. Believe it or not, there are still senior stakeholders in some businesses that still just don’t get social at all…

Social is one of the most resource-hungry disciplines out there. Infinitely complicated, horrendously instant, back breakingly flexible, a rainbow array of skill sets required.  For lots of brands we speak to, the damage done by the “social media guy or gal” in the corner because they were “the right age to get this stuff” still exists. Horror stories, disasters, under achievement, utter over achievement and everything in between has left some organisations all bambi on ice, particularly around nailing down budgets and investments for social.

“Where’s the ROI?”

As someone once put in a presentation, I listened to, what is the ROI of your cat?!

For some reason, brands tend to look at social media in that side wards look that dog gives you when it’s confused, where is they stare longingly at the TV. Yeah, on that note, what was the ROI of that TV ad?

Now, it is possible to prove, with some hard metrics the ROI of social media activity given you have the right measures in place for other channels. So, for example, if you are not attribution modelling across the business, we can damn sure not come up with an ROI in much the same way you couldn’t for anything else.

“I need a new Facebook page for my business area”

Erm, no you don’t, not by default anyway. This is one of the big reasons we are called in to do an audit in the first place, consolidate and define the role for social. Anyone who has recently come into a social role tasked with this internally will know this headache, new profile springing up like a never ending game of whack-a-mole at the fun fair.

“Social media is a tool to broadcast our messages”

Useful though that is for communicating at scale, it is very much two way conversation and not a broadcast channel. What is even more frustrating is when you have one of these folk with one channel, broadcasting messages and another one over in the customer service team with an opinion like in point 1.

I’ll tell you what, why doesn’t the person from this point get in a room with the person from point 1 and they can chat it out?! They’ll meet in the middle and then we can start to get somewhere… a balance of broadcast and engagement.

“Jill, Sally, Bob & Jane all do bits of social”

Uh huh. What bits of social are they doing? Who is managing this again? And why are they doing that? Oh wait, Harry is doing a bit of it too over there but slightly differently?! But even though many people are assuming elements of social as part of their role we still see so many social champions being denied head count, even when presenting a business case for consolidating the tasks and relieving existing team members.

Bit part social roles are really common, and not necessarily a problem, but when what each individual is doing is not coordinated properly it turns to a bit of a mess, and is largely tremendously ineffective. In addition, there tends to be a big skills gap where these individuals have learned organically on the job. All part of the journey though…

“It’s working because this post got 1000 Likes and 13% engagement rate”

13% engagement rate amongst 10,000 followers as a one off means what to who? Equally what’s the value of 1000 Likes? Analysing performance on a post-by-post basis is not going to turn the dial at strategic level.

“Social is all about communication so needs to sit with PR” or “Social is a marketing channel so needs to sit within marketing” or “Social is all about the customer so needs to sit with Customer Service” (I could go on)

Social doesn’t “sit” with anyone, it’s pervasive or as our CEO Katy Howell says “leaky”. Guidance and steering from an individual or team of experts acting on behalf of the business to steer best practice is about as much direct ownership by one department as there should be.

The key to success lies in the enabling of these departments to contribute and take some ownership whilst collaborating to deliver best-in-class. Coupled with expert advice from those really in the know, either internally or externally.

“We use HootSuite, Radian 6, Sprinklr, Crimson Hexagon, Sprout, Buffer, Oktopost, Brandwatch & Sysomos across the business”

I bet you do. Good on you. I bet they all remain redundant too…”does anyone actually know how to use this?”. “Oh yeah Jim did, but left last month”. I can hear the new Head of Social at the brand say it now, we’ve got how many licenses? What do we need those for?

Tools don’t write, develop or optimise a strategy, they are enablers for greater efficiencies. People love tech however, and there is always one who is chasing the new shiny bit of kit without consulting the people that matter internally first.

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