MediaMedia PlanningEight Things You Need to Manage Social Media

Eight Things You Need to Manage Social Media

Only pure-play online marketing firms can manage social media.

Who Owns Social Media Campaigns? written last week by ClickZ columnist Rebecca Lieb, explores who should manage social media for companies – public relations firms, search firms, or agencies.

I’m grateful to Rebecca for getting me a gig at ClickZ as a columnist more than two years ago. This week, I’m appreciative because she gave me fodder for my column here.

Below is a comment I posted last week in response to her column; I’d like to elaborate.

    Online Marketing firms who have search, online media, creative, development and tracking technology under one roof are the only entities really qualified to deploy and manage a robust social media channel alive with good content, creative and interactive applications. Agencies might be close but most PR firms are just not equipped to deploy creative and technology-infused online assets and blend them with high-octane online media programs. Certainly “search only” firms are not the right folks for this either – they don’t have great creative or online media buyers. The one thing PR firms may have a leg up on is good blog-relations programs.

Let me list skills and components that a company needs to manage a social media campaign in a comprehensive way and explain why online marketing firms are the right ones to make it happen.

First, the lines between search, online media, online creative, and online technology are blurring and nowhere is that more true than with social media marketing. A social platform is a channel that will forever build your brand, encourage engagement, and drive site traffic, leads, and commerce. Only online marketing firms adept at maintaining, managing, tracking, and optimizing “always on” online channels and technologies should be in charge of managing these platforms.

A robust social platform has tons of moving parts and technologies behind it. So in exploring what type of firm is best at managing a social platform consider the following.

You wouldn’t have your PR firm build and manage your Web site, right? You may have your branding agency do it but probably not. However, you would retain your pure-play online marketing firm that has all the creative, search engine optimization (SEO), and technical/Web development skills under one roof to build and manage your Web site right? Well a social media platform is like a huge Web site that not only integrates with your site but lives all over the Web. That’s why a full-service online firm is they way to go.

You would not have a pure-play Web development firm do it either. A great social channel must have great visual and interactive creative, interesting and engaging content, complex technologies, and even robust tracking applications. In addition, success is often sparked by good SEO and online media programs. A pure Web development firm would not have these skills either.

Finally, a branding or traditional ad agency may have a robust interactive department that can pull off a good social platform but agencies with all the necessary skills are few and far between. What’s more, cost structures and business models often make it cost prohibitive to get into the always-on, nitty-gritty social interaction business. I mostly see large agencies buying their clients’ way into the social space. Some are doing great things and make a splash but they fall short when it comes to the long-term embrace of the community of friends and fans.

As I’ve been asserting, for the most part, only pure-play online marketing firms possess the blended skills and technologies needed to manage social campaigns. They have what it takes under one roof to be successful in the social media space.

To deploy and maintain a social media platform successfully over the long term requires a firm that possesses the following skills and technologies:

  • Top-flight strategic account staff members who have a strong grasp of the components that make up the social media landscape and understand to apply them to specific marketing objectives and target audiences. You must have a crew of social media technophiles who are using Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Digg, “chiclets, and all the rest of the stuff that is baffling the minds of so many marketers. The team cannot just know social media – it must be living in it.
  • A dynamic team of social media coordinators and moderators who are dedicated to keeping their fingers on the pulse of their client’s social media platforms. Your company’s virtual social champion must socialize with friends and fans. After all, social media is about socializing!
  • A team with a super strong grasp of the blogosphere, how to blog and utilize blog technology, how to reach and communicate with bloggers, and how to track blog and social chatter. In other words, a very strong blog outreach or blogger relations team who should be bloggers themselves.
  • An amazing interactive creative and production team that can develop engaging eye-popping designs, content, copy, and application concepts on a consistent and cost effective basis.
  • A strong in-house development department with a wide range of development and programming skills including HTML, PHP (define), .Net (define), Java, Flash, XML (define), and all the other acronyms that make up the menu of platforms and languages powering the online and social media landscape.
  • An amazing online media and search marketing team that can integrate social media technologies and tactics in online media campaigns and paid search campaigns and then add the resulting actions to tracking, reporting, and optimization.
  • A masterful SEO team with the capabilities to blend social media with SEO and linking programs and to optimize the assets being deployed into the social media ecosystem for search friendliness and compliance. (Ever hear of universal search? This is where all your social assets and content will show up. Also don’t forget about all the image searches that happen and that YouTube is now the second most popular search site from a query volume perspective after Google.)
  • An always-on staff of analytic and channel management professionals who are passionate about metrics and Web analytics and can constantly track, report, and respond to events, actions, and reactions within the online and social media space and then react and optimize from a messaging and ROI (define) standpoint.

As CEO of a pure-play online marketing firm, I know I’m biased because I come from an environment that has all those items listed above under its roof and at its fingertips. However, isn’t what I am saying here logical? Are these not all the blended service components needed to deploy a social media program and all the assets and technologies that make a social media platform what actually it is? What PR firm, search firm, Web development firm or ad agency has all the skills sets I’ve identified? Not many. Now how about pure-play online marketing firms? I would say there are a few out there — those are the firms that should be helping companies launch and manage their social media channels.

I’m sure you could add a few things to this list and if I left anything out please do let me now!

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