As businesses wade into social media, there’s an interesting choice to make about the voice of the brand. The falacy is that social media is free. But the people costs to do it properly are important to understand going into it. As much as I love Tony Hsieh’s approach at Zappos, not every CEO is capable of personally fronting the company in social media.
I enjoyed Ann Handley’s post on this topic: “The Right Voice for Your Brand Online is … (Pick One): The CEO? Head of Marketing? An Intern? or Who?”
I think the laziest (yet very common) option is the “Intern”, which illustrates just how low social media really falls on the priority list for many companies. Social media is a classic Intern assignment because it has unclear upside and little perceived risk of screwing it up.
But the Intern is often the least connected person in the organization. The Intern approach runs counter to the promise of social media improving the dialog between organizations and their consumers. Interns also need supervision, and the approval process detracts from the immediacy of social media.
I recently heard someone describe tweets and facebook updates as “copywriting”. It was a good reminder that social media dialog is every much a part of the voice of the brand as any other form of marketing (perhaps more so). It’s crucial to consider who is doing the talking and what they’re talking about.
If yours is a brand that markets from the inside out, this voice should come naturally from what you are already doing. If instead your voice is applied externally from an agency, you may need a bigger overhaul. Social media exposes Cyrano de Bergerac. Your consumers are increasingly demanding a real and meaningful conversation with your brand. And they likely won’t have that conversation with an Intern.
To think through the true investment of social media programs, I found the “Basics of Social Media ROI” from Olivier Blanchard a useful place to start.
8 CommentsJoin the Discussion
Thanks for the mention! I’ve been a fan for a while, so this is a lot like an early Christmas present! 🙂
Excellent post, so true! I’ve often noticed myself how you drop away as you realise you’re talking to somebody without any connection to the brand/company.
aint nothing wrong with minimum wage interns http://www.theimpossiblepitch.com
Gina Furnari says
As a social media intern I agree with most of this. Companies should make sure that their interns have a good grasp on the mission of the organization and that they have other duties besides just Facebook and Twitter. Keep them informed and busy and hire someone who you someday want to be a paid employee.
It is understandable to be a little weary about social media, but you need to get over that. Social media is a full time job and it’s efforts need not be limited to your PR department. In the museum world social media can be used to educate and curate in very engaging and creative ways.
Internships remain the best way to get your foot in the door of your favorite organization. Especially in a bad economy.
Tom Fishburne says
Thanks all! My point wasn’t to critique interns per se (although I know I drew it that way). I learned a lot from all of my internships, and they were often the best way to get my foot in the door. Interns often do cool things, and I was blown away by the link shared earlier: http://www.theimpossiblepitch.com
I just think that the projects that wind up on the internship list are often lower in priority. My point was to critique organizations that give lip service to social media and don’t give it the long-term attention it needs to do it well. Giving social media to interns is a sign of that.
denise lee yohn says
here’s a thought — while someone(s) should be the designated social media participant for an organization, one additional way for a company to use s.m. is to encourage and empower its employees to promote the brand in their own usage of s.m. — with the right inspiration and tools, employees are in a great position to be the voice of the brand
Man, your stuff is too funny! Stop it!
Just used this cartoon to illustrate a post about community management in nonprofit organizations. Thank you for making your cartoons available for free embedding in blogs!