Post I wrote for Marketing Conversation:
Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing Blog and John Cass from PR Communications recently sent out a request for readers to give their thoughts on content writing and social media engagement on behalf of clients and whether or not this brings into question the issue of transparency.
Recently, there has been a tremendous upswing of companies and organizations adopting some sort of social media in their marketing portfolio. And with this growth, more and more of these companies are hiring agencies to implement social media initiatives. As Toby says: “Social Media is a beast that needs to be fed.” And sometimes the only way this can be done is to hire someone to do it.
The potential problem with this model is that the public could feel they are being misled by these companies and the agencies they hire to represent them. The beauty of social media is the ability to listen, learn, and build honest relationships; but if you don’t know who you are interacting with, the relationship could be sacrificed.
However, I don’t think it matters who is doing the responding, as long as they are responding. The goal of social media is to facilitate discussion and generate attention through tweets and posts by real people. The company name on that person’s business card doesn’t matter. The agency is an extension of the client, and as long as the agency is well-informed, genuinely interested, authentic and responsive – everything should be good.
I recently started doing some blogger outreach for Abraham Harrison and I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance and impact of transparency in the work I’ve been doing. Here are some things I’ve learned so far, both from training and from actually doing it:
- Be responsive, friendly, authentic and apologetic (if necessary).
- Respond with personality, not like a robot.
- If asked, be honest about who you are. If necessary, respond with something like this: “I work for a PR company called Abraham Harrison and we are helping Company X spread the word about such and such cause.”
- Know how to answer questions, respond to comments but also when to ask your contact at Company X to step in and provide information. Don’t make things up if you don’t know; better to just ask and find out the answer.
I’ve noticed that people really don’t care that they have been contacted by a PR company on behalf of so and so company. Most are just impressed that there is an actual person behind the message.
I think that if there are people out there who can outsource their online dating successfully a la Tim Ferriss (I mean talk about transparency issues), then outsourcing your social media implementation shouldn’t be a problem.
I’m looking foward to see what Toby and John compile about this topic from all the experts in the field.