Alex Hillman sure stirred up a lot of emotion with his post over at Mashable about social media experts – How to Know if You Should Fire Your Social Media Consultant.
Go read the post for yourself, but all I needed to see to agree was Reason #1:
“If they recommend a Twitter campaign”
Like Alex, I am a twitter fan, (@tomob) and I agree with him, it is no place to start. Getting “social media” is a big deal. It is asking corporations to act like human beings and become an integral part of the community that exists around their products and brands.
Being an integral part of the community means:
- It is a relationship, not a campaign
- Community motivations get served first – not yours
- You have to contribute
- You have to be real – open, honest, direct, transparent
This is not something that can be outsourced. Outsourcing community involvement is like outsourcing friendship. It really can’t be done effectively.
With respect to “Social Media Consultants” the answer is the same as it always was. No, we’re not going to have licensing or standards. Those of us on the Vendor side (me @ MotiveQuest) have to be clear both about what we will and won’t do. Anyone who says they do it all is just lying. Those of you on the buyer side have to ramp up the due diligence. Ask for and call references. Do some research. Sort the wheat from the chaff.
Finally, this transformation is not going to be easy. Establishing relationships with your customers and communities (is that “Social Media?) is hard work. It cuts across the silos. It will require getting Marketing, PR, Customer Service, Engineering/Product, Legal and Exec all on board. It will require real people making real efforts to connect every day.