A few weeks ago I wrote a post entitled Should you outsource your social media initiatives. This post is to revisit some of the points raised there.
I was reading an excellent interview with Marla Erwin, Interactive Art Director for Whole Foods Market and the insights were truly amazing. Whole Foods has 150 Twitter accounts (which can be seen here http://wholefoods.com/twitter)
When you look at the Whole Foods social media presence, which includes the Twitter accounts mentioned above, a Facebook presence and blog it becomes very evident that maintaining this presence (which all plays out in real-time) is no minor feat.
When asked whether this whole presence was managed in-house or outsourced Marla responded as follows:
“The first thing we found is that not every store has someone who’s really familiar with social media or with Twitter specifically. For the most part, we’ve pretty much let them run with it. A tight control from a corporate level would be exactly the opposite of what we were trying to achieve, which was to decentralize the responses. I definitely think that people who tweet on behalf of an organization need to be in it. If you can find the wonderful combination of someone who really knows your business and really knows social media, then that’s the person to use, even if they’re in the meat department or they’re a cashier.”
I strongly feel that this is the course of wisdom. As mentioned in the post from a few weeks ago, social media is about building relationships and to out source that function is not really a smart move. This brings me back to the point made by Paul Jacobson in his post:
“It doesn’t help a business to outsource its voice to a know-it-all agency that promotes the current social media tool as the solution for its marketing needs. A good agency will help a business formulate an effective strategy using the right tools for the job and empower people within the business to engage meaningfully with their customers. I just don’t see how paying an agency to tweet on your behalf is a good use of the platform at all. It converts a social application, Twitter, into yet another one way communication channel (“thanks for your tweet, we’ll get back to you” from the agency doesn’t qualify as meaningful engagement). Getting the engineer who designed the product in touch with customers through Twitter, Facebook, a blog or even a forum (remember those?) is much closer to meaningful engagement and social media’s essence.”
I think the businesses who go through the necessary pain of making “speaking digital” a part of their internal DNA will be much more successful than those who see this a too much trouble and try and pass the responsibility onto an agency outside the business.
Peter du Toit
Peter is the co-founder of Social Media IQ, a social media strategist, exceptional speaker and certified coach who specialises in developing social media strategies for companies in order for them to stay relevant in this fast changing world.