Dave Fleet’s interview with Guy Kawasaki on the by now infamous ghost-written Twitter feed has gotten me thinking. How does this effects our clients.
Social media consultants love to
bang on wax lyrical about how new tools are changing the face of communications forever. Fair enough. But when someone doesn’t play by their ill-defined and never codified “rules” they herd up and attack – making it very scary for clients to actually, you know, change their communications habits. Even when talking to clients, I can’t ever pretend to have the right answers. There is a best practice you can follow or a way that get’s you raked over the coals. The third way is even worse – you get ignored and it doesn’t matter!
The exact same thing happened with blogging. A company would start a blog and then the social media experts would shoot it down – “no rss feed”, “comments aren’t published in real time”, “no interaction with readers” – and so on and so on ad infinitum. Never about the content. Always about the mechanics.
The more things change, the more things stay the same.
For instance – let’s say I wanted to start a Twitter stream for a client. We’ve determined that the core demographic is going to be on Twitter and we want to reach them. We work out that we want to engage with users and share cool links – just like any other Twitter user – and we want to provide some updates on what is happening with the product and maybe some updates on a campaign that’s running. Whatever it is, the hard part is done – the client is happy to be on Twitter, engaging the core customer and getting involved. But the client doesn’t have the time to actually source those cool links and to update frequently. Plus, as the social media agency, we know our way around Twitter pretty well so why not just have us handle it?
But how do we do that?
Do we set up an account as the brand and link to a Web page to detail how we’re using the account? “This account is run by XYZ people from ABC agency who will be doing HIJK”? Would that help or hinder adoption and followership? Probably the latter.
Do we say that XYZ people are updating and identify their updates by appending each update with their initials (this works for Britney Spears) but not disclose they are agency folk? Technically they work for the brand but aren’t really part of it.
Do we tell the brand team – here’s the account details, go for it? What if the brand team/client doesn’t have the bandwidth to keep up with the volume of updates needed to work up a decent following? The same applies if we set up accounts like MolsonFerg on Twitter – will the team be able to keep it up if they are busy executives for global brands? I think not.
If we do go down that route, it is pretty distracting. After all, we want people to engage with the brand based on its attributes, not the actually brand manager and his/her personality.
All which is a long winded way to say that there must be a balance to be struck between serving the community, serving the brand and making sure the social media marketing folk don’t get worked up about the mechanics and distract from the core objective. Like Dave, I am a pragmatist and a consultant. I want my clients to be able to take advantage of these powerful new tools but I don’t want to the reason their brand suffers when it can be easily avoided.
What do you think? What is acceptable for the client-agency dynamic?