You can’t buy authenticity

28 Jan

A social media sales guy comes in, and the tune he’s singing sounds great. His org can get you rolling fast with a turn key solution. Simply pay them a modest amount of cash, and they will get you a twitter, a facebook, a blog, and for recurrent fee, even ghost write them for you. The whole idea of having such a wide ranging online presence sounds good. You think, hey, this is going to be great, and its a ton cheaper than traditional media, its a no brainer. You also like the idea that this whole social media thing can simply be thrown over the wall, and it will run all by itself. 

A 3d friend who I met on twitter a couple years back, and I were discussing this exact scenario… and it was like, egads, we can’t believe businesses are falling for this. Yes, such sounds like an ideal situation, but its built on falsehoods. It doesn’t take much time for a potential client to see right through low budget ghost writing. It doesn’t take much time to see right through half baked marketing driven/automated twitter accounts. In other words, authenticity is key, and if you try to short cut it, most folks will see right through it.

I came across the following from @KentBottles this morning, http://kentbottles.blogspot.com/2011/01/who-should-manage-your-social-media.html and he absolutely nails it. Some key points which I believe transcend nearly every market,

When you reduce it to its fundamentals, social media strategy isn’t complicated. It’s social. It’s about establishing and nurturing authentic relationships in ways that will build loyalty to your institution.

Websites and social media aren’t primarily technical matters, and social media may eventually take 50% or more of your social media manager’s time (your social media manager should have responsibility for your website too). The rest of his or her time might be spent on content development for your website and keeping up with the literature.

….social media can’t be effective if it’s automated in any way, and for the same reason outsourcing your social media strategy and execution to a marketing agency or other vendor is almost always a bad idea. 

….your social media manager is going to be out there on the front lines every day, using his or her own name, showing people who you are  and doing and saying things that give people reasons to be loyal to your organization. That’s got to be done in-house by someone who understands your organization and is personally committed to it.

Otoh, as @KentBottles states A smart, creative consultant with significant experience in healthcare social media can fast-track the process by explaining the basics and best practices, and by helping your social media manager learn how to consistently create content that interests your target audiences.

In a lot of ways, this parallels the discussion my 3d twitter friend and I had back when, albeit we were discussing social media in general rather than health care focused. A consultant, if they come in with open eyes and ears, rather than canned solutions, AND if the org will commit the needed time to share their real culture with said consultant, a whole multitude of mis-steps and wasted time and money can be avoided. Sadly though, what happens far too often is things are thrown over the wall, and then folks are going “how come this isn’t working…. or social media is just a big timer waster etc”. You cant buy authenticity… it never worked in the days of snake oil salesmen, it doesn’t work today either.

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