Tag Archives: Social Strategy

Managing Social Media: In-house versus Outsource

Nothing gets the social media communities more kicked up then the debate over whether businesses should absorb social media internally or outsource (outhouse?) the entire thing to an agency partner.

I have heard all arguments for the merits and limitations from both sides—and most agencies will offer very passionate and unsolicited argumentative advice that the only sensible thing to do is outsource your entire process to them. I’m sure they’ve told you this—they are the social media experts after all.  And why wouldn’t they? You are their next business opportunity.

But why does it have to be an either/or decision?  As a Social strategist—I aim to educate, offer fresh ideas, and then leave the tools behind with the door wide open.  Maybe it’s the philosophical in me… you know, the whole teach-a-man-to-fish thing.

I understand the real-world limitations. Not wanting to divert people from their existing responsibilities, or even having to hire new staff. I can empathize with learning curves, and I certainly don’t expect busy professionals with (already) full workloads to invest the kind of time and money that I (and other colleagues) have done into learning about social media, or to be anything close to as engaged as some of us are on a daily basis. And I can even appreciate old dogs not wanting to learn new tricks.  But I believe the merits outweigh the limitations in this debate—primarily in opportunities alone.

The opportunity exists for you to really own your social media investment. Own the strategy, own the day-to-day learnings, know how to handle the tools, and learn first-hand from your mistakes. Your customer is not out-sourcing their role as your consumer, and they are engaging and connecting in the social web at unprecedented rates. Don’t risk becoming less connected with your customers, own the behaviour insights that only familiarity will give you.  Your company can’t afford to be headed in any other direction—no matter how practical the limitations of in-house may seem to you.  It’s time to learn and lead.

This is where it doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. Investing in a Social Media strategist up-front can make all the difference for long-term Social Media implementation. Strategists can teach you the tools, train your team members, and make recommendations as to which core processes should be managed in-house. Strategists help with the plan and execution—in whatever capacity your business needs.  Learn how, when and where to fish.

Keep that strategist in your pocket and put yourself on the path of practical learning and enriched understanding.  Today’s business environment is socially connected—who’s telling your brand story?

Need more info? Contact me at catherine@uberscribbler.com.

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Filed under Brand Storytelling, Social Media, social strategist

Want to get radical? Stop applying 20th century principles (“product,” “buzz,” “loyalty”) to 21st century media

One of the biggest challenges I face in my day-to-day business is trying to help clients evolve their thinking.  I say challenges, but I mean frustrating-bang-my-head-against-the-wall-soul-crushing experiences.  It’s SO easy to think that a social media strategy is about joining social network sites as a clever way to push your same tired old junk.  And you’d be kind of right.  That’s exactly what a social media strategy is—because that is EXACTLY what most organizations are doing.  But PEOPLE, listen up!  It’s not about social media anymore—in fact, it hasn’t been for a couple of years now.

Almost two years ago, Harvard Business Media Labs guru and author, Umair Haque, wrote about this very topic.  He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, using social media in business is about developing the capacity to understand your organization’s role in society, and using that role in a more constructive way.  It’s about developing a social strategy first—which will then shape your business and marketing strategies.  Social Medias are just the tools—the assets.  A social strategy is about wielding sociality as a source of advantage.  The most basic social strategy is to help you and your brand to STOP being antisocial.  Umair is bang on.  In today’s social world, this is not radical thinking.  Evolve already.

I understand that it’s tough to embrace change.  There are no expectations that an organization is going to re-align itself to the 21st century on my command.  The reality is that the upper-echelons are in a “wait and see” mode.  Folks that have been in the marketing and business world for decades are stuck with traditional blinders on.  I have heard these same people exclaim in passionate battle cries that they get it.  But they don’t.  They don’t believe they are even wearing blinders.

I have also heard every excuse in the book—and more—about their experiences driving them, and how the real world “just doesn’t work like that.”  To them I say… pishaw!  Take your scared head out of your ego ass and let’s rock and roll this thing.  OK, so I don’t really say that—but I’m definitely thinking it while I stomp my foot and ball my fists.  How can I help you if you won’t help yourself?  It’s not imperative to make the changes at once—what is imperative is that you keep your eye on the ball and your nose in the game.  Take your bloody blinders off—it’s not personal.  I know you were great in your day, I know you know things, and yes, I know this isn’t your first rodeo.  What you won’t hear is that the rodeo is long over my friend.  Those horses have been dead for five years—dismount already.

I’m sharing Umair Haque’s article here.  He uses real phrases like “soul-deadening” instead of industry buzz jargon that makes you want to dig your eyes out with a spork.  You know the stuff—we’ve all sat through too many of those PowerPoint presentations.

“Using the social to “build buzz” and “push product” is about as smart as using a warp drive to visit your local Wal-Mart. Social tools today are used mostly as a new “channel” to push the same old useless stuff of the industrial era at hapless “consumers.” That’s meaninglessness at it’s finest. It’s the least productive — and most soul-deadening — use of a formidably powerful tool.’ – Umair Haque

“Social strategies are about reinventing tomorrow. Their goal is nothing less than changing the DNA of an organization, ecosystem, or industry. Want to get radical? Stop applying 20th century principles (“product,” “buzz,” “loyalty”) to 21st century media. The fundamental change of scale and pace that social tools introduce into human affairs — their great tectonic shift — is the promise of more meaningful work, stuff, and organization. Start with “the meaning is the message” instead.” – Umair Haque

Did I mention it’s time to evolve your thinking?


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Filed under Social Media, social strategist, world news

Sketchy lines for the professionally social

Once upon a time, professional networking happened after hours while sipping an aperitif or while swinging your golf clubs at a charity event.  Putting together your professional image in the privacy of your personal space before shaking hands with prospects or clients will soon be a thing of the past.  Image used to be everything.  But now, with the explosion of Facebook, they’ve all seen you in a messy tube top holding both ends of a beer bong.

Facebook and other social media sites have blurred the lines between personal and professional.  It’s a strange tangle of ‘friends’ that you retain and it can be impossible to tell where one begins and the other ends.  Times have definitely changed—and the shift continues at a monumental rate.  For the new generations it will be all they know.  The idea of an archaic professional image (that some of us continue to cling to) will be as important to them as an eight-track cassette of The Bay City Rollers—or as necessary as a pen.

The surest way to maintain your individual professional image is to show it to everyone.  While that may take care of you as an individual, what does that mean for your business?  As you move your company out into the social stream, the course of your professional actions are now muddied in a personal dance with your consumers—while the whole world watches.  Gone are the days where you could interact one-to-one and if you gave a less than stellar customer service performance to one individual, then you had the opportunity to make amends before it snowballed out of control.  Negative publicity was word of mouth.  Now, your lurking prospects , customers, and stakeholders can see it with their own eyes.  You start with the out-of-control snowball—and you must work backward and quickly melt it back down to nothing.  You must make amends to the whole world—not just one unhappy customer.

The positive in this—and yes, there is one there—is that this new age of social networking will keep you honest.  It will tighten and hone your professional customer service techniques so that each customer or prospect you deal with will be given the same courtesy and attention to detail as the next.  It’s a win—win.  To help you bridge this gap will be a great social strategist (hi, nice to meet you) that will coach and navigate for you, gently pushing you forward, building your brand up in front of the social eyes of your consumers, and helping you to organize yourself in front of your waiting audience.  Make no mistake—it is important that you be there.  Everyone is there.  You’re already conspicuous with your absence.  If you don’t steer your social reputation, your unhappy customers, disgruntled employees and crazy ex-wife will.

Now, as an individual, you’re completely on your own.  It’s possible that nobody will be watching you.  Maybe the only interaction you will have is on your birthday when your mom posts the obligatory “happy birthday” on your Facebook wall.  I can’t help you with that.



Filed under Social Media

@newsdirector you made coffee come out of my nose. #ouch #facepalm #fail

On paper, having a billboard dynamically updated via twitter seems like a good idea.  In practice, you can accidentally make your news anchors look like rapists. #socialstrategyfail

Measure twice… cut once.


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Filed under Awesome, Social Media, world news

The Social Media Marketing Lie

Social Marketing sounds scary—foreign even.  And it should, because it’s misleading.  The Social Marketers out there in the headlines are making up the rules as they go along.  The race to be the most influential expert in the Social Media industry is definitely on.  And honestly, if marketing folk didn’t hike up their bootstraps and hoof it in a new direction—they’d be quickly out of work.  It’s really not that complex.  Don’t believe all the smoke and mirrors.  There’s no magic bullet.  And—it’s not marketing.

Social Marketing is not about marketing at all—at least not in the traditional sense.  It’s about customer service—and marketing that service.  In order for a Social Media program to be successful, you can’t live in the house of marketing.  You can accessorize with marketing methodology such as campaigning, product sampling, and that sort of thing.  But the house you must live in needs to be customer service. 

The frontline of your organization is customer service—this is where your company becomes real to the public.  Engaging with the public shows them you’re real, it shows them a human face.  It puts you in the coveted position of confidant.  It allows you to listen to what customers are saying and keeps you pro-active and top-of-mind, all the while remaining involved with them.  More importantly than that, you’re building a community that allows customers to interact with each other and it is—in essence—a celebration of your customers.  It’s an everyday virtual customer conference.

It’s time to let go of traditional values and let the community and your customer service team market for you.  Teaming your marketing silo up with Social Strategists is setting your conversations up to fail—before they even begin.  There will be all sorts of head-butting, non-acceptance of key strategy elements, and downright refusal to play nice in the sandbox.  Your marketing team is skilled in traditional marketing and is an important piece of your business puzzle—just on a secondary scale in Social Media.   Customer service is built for listening and for scaling, and must be the starting point for any successful Social integration program.  If the program is to standalone, it can be effectively positioned—or repositioned—as residing between customer service and marketing.  Tearing down organizational silos could mean realignment of budgets and key management, but worth the reorganization to bring these departments together.  It will be a critical effort in order to manage Social Media after deployment. 

You will be managing the care of the public in a public platform.  Everyone will be watching; customers, potential customers, fans, your competitors—even your mom.  You need to put your best “face” forward.   Do you want to trust the customer service of your marketing team to make the decisions? Or do you want to rely on the skills and training of your dedicated customer service team to engage your audience?  It seems like a no-brainer.

Social media is not going away.  In fact, this is only the beginning.  Before long Social Media will be an integral and essential part of the business industry.  It will be as obvious and as necessary as email and paycheques.  You can stick your head in the sand and pooh-pooh the whole emergent phenomenon of Social, and you can go on believing that traditional values are hard-core and cannot be so easily torn down.  But, you’d be wrong.  You have to be open and adaptable to change.  You have to learn new tricks—no matter how old your dog is. 

As a leader in your organization, it’s up to you to make the tough decisions.  Board ego’s run deep, budgets are tight, and nobody wants to talk about change.  Ain’t that the way it goes?  All the excuses and reasoning in the world won’t change the fact that one day soon—in order to continue to compete for market—you’re going to have to implement a Social strategy.  Why not start embracing it now?

Start discussing strategies internally.  Conceptualize your organization in a conversation.  Align and arm your customer service department for the new program.  Ask for help.  Find reputable Social Marketing Strategists to consult with and build a rock-solid platform for your business to engage the world.  We are out there—and we’ll tell you the truth. 

Easy-peasy, right?



Filed under Social Media, Uncategorized, world news