I’ve been reading a lot about how you can use social media to help manage your brand and was on a great conference call with Chris Brogan and Awareness Networks. Actually, if you want to check out the slides from the presentation hit them up here.
A lot of the metrics I see and the stories I hear talk about how larger corporations are jumping into the social media sphere (perfect example for better or worse was Skittlegate, or JetBlue’s embracing of Twitter) to interact with their customers, solve problems and get feedback. But I haven’t heard a ton about how small businesses are utilizing SM besides having a MySpace page. I do see tons of entrepreneurs really engaging in the medium but so far I haven’t seen a ton of small businesses (at least in my geographic region) get involved (I KNOW there are some of you out there though).
But I would argue that small businesses have just as much to gain by interacting and monitoring SM conversations, as large corporations do. The thing that rocks about Twitter, Blogs, etc, is the accessibility, speed, and most importantly AUTHENTICITY that they help to foster between a brand and customers. That being said, small business owners have just as much to gain in SM because people are always craving accessability and authenticiy – which is something that most small businesses should be built on. Its a natural fit.
I have to ask, who is in charge of the online presence for most major corporations? Is it an agency? An existing front line employee, someone from marketing, or the CEO (and I know this will vary widely)? And is it always someone on the inside?
Todd Defen and Seth Godin had great posts on how Social Media is less like advertising and more like PR and the difference between PR and Publicity. So if you buy that argument (which I do, to a point – I think Customer Service is a huge part of it), does that mean that whoever handles a company’s PR should also handle their SM presence? This is a bone of contention. I posed this question and got a response from @Chris Brogan saying that he’s not a fan at all of Ghost Tweeting (Sending out Tweets for someone else) because it decreases transparency.
And I have to say that I’m on the fence with this one. Is there a market to monitor small businesses online, by helping to run their Twitter Accounts and interacting with customers for someone on an agency level? I would think so. And if that ‘online brand manager’ keeps the client abreast of the feedback coming in (both positive and negative), advising them on how to help and engage customers, are they doing a disservice to the community or serving it? Does that take away from the whole purpose of using SM tools as a method of interacting authentically with others?
Or do most SM ‘experts’ take more of an educational role, getting clients used to using these tools on their own, and hoping for the best. It certainly makes it authentic. But I wonder if a bad online presence is better than NO online presence.
I’m really torn on this and would love to have some feedback from you all.