Business social media in some organizations is implemented with few challenges and obstacles. These companies are fortunate enough to have knowledge and experience within key departments to design a competitive social media marketing strategy, which of course, also includes a content marketing strategy focused on brand storytelling. Unfortunately, this scenario is typically the exception, not the norm.
Most organizations are not structured with a marketing team, corporate communications department or public relations personnel with adequate time and experience to develop, implement and manage business social media. Being a social media agency, we are contacted by companies that are at one of five stages of what we’ve come to term, business social media grief. These stages are the typical process a company finds themselves going through when they decide to take on business social media with the present staff they had at their disposal at the time. Do you know which stage your brand is presently at?
Stage One: Business Social Media Denial
Your direct competitors have been rocking their social media streams for years now, but way back when your brand did not feel the slightest threatened by their initial social media efforts. Why would you? Your brand had been the market leader for years. Your brand had customer loyalty. In simply wasn’t a priority to distract your staff with this social media thing that was going to be a passing fad. The years went by. Social media marketing did not disappear as your company hoped. Many brands in your competitive landscape each had developed a social media community. How did this once harmless social media thing turn itself into a public relations embarrassment for the company? By the looks of it, the next generation of consumers is left assuming your competitors are actually the market leaders by their social media presence.
Your brand finally decides to do something about their social media. It is human nature to first assume you can do anything you set your minds and organizations to accomplish. You create a new marketing initiative for your company to finally conquer business social media. Problem solved, right? Not so fast. You’ve conquered the first stage: business social media denial. Unfortunately, your company has simply progressed on to the next stage: business social media frustration.
Stage Two: Business Social Media Frustration
Success with your business social media takes time. It requires patience from company leadership. If your social media presence develops literally overnight, it more than likely is too good to be true and not an authentic social media community. Unfortunately, many company CEOs, COOs, CMOs and other members of leadership expect instantaneous results. This mindset stems from decades of quick, but short-lived traditional marketing campaigns. From print to broadcast, your company makes a marketing splash which results in a surge of brand awareness and sales. This form of immediacy should not be expected of any credible social media marketing strategy. It much the same way that SEO is a long-term marketing strategy, so too is business social media.
Company leadership starts pointing fingers at everyone tasked with making their social streams look the way they do. Leadership’s impatience suddenly turns to frustration. Why doesn’t our Facebook page look pretty and professional like our competitors? Why are there so few likes, shares, and comments? We spent good money making that one video. Why isn’t it receiving any video views? WHY, WHY, WHY?!? In most cases, the root of the problem isn’t that your staff failed to deliver. It was the flawed expectation that your traditional marketing staff could somehow internally develop expertise with business social media and content creation specifically for social audiences. If someone on your staff had no business accounting experience, would you expect them to take over your company books and expect the best of results? Of course not. Then why would you expect the same from your present staff regarding social media?
Once you and your leadership temper their expectations for the capabilities of the current staff, the feelings of frustration become the driving force behind the next stage: business social media bargaining.
Stage Three: Business Social Media Bargaining
After fledgling results from within the organization, you are now open to do anything to make up for lost time and energy already spent attempting business social media. Your company finally makes the decision to post listings for a social media manager position. Sounds like a cost-effective solution. By adding just one more salary to the company, your social media streams will finally look the way everyone expected from the beginning, right? Not so fast. Ask your HR department how challenging it is to find truly experienced talent these days at any position, let alone talent that will stick around longer than 12 months. Social media marketing positions tend to attract a broad collection of generalists claiming to know social media marketing. After several months interviewing candidates of all ages and backgrounds, including a few social media consultants, your leadership moves forward with a candidate who appeared the most qualified based on having worked as a social media manager for a brand in the Fortune 1000.
The first noticeable difference is the consistency in your company’s social media postings. That’s one of the reasons this person was hired. This consistency satisfies leadership for a while. However, your leadership wasn’t born yesterday. They expect a certain level of quality in the content to represent the brand. They expect accountability. They want ROI. The social media manager is brought into a meeting to appease everyone’s concerns over the competitor’s posting superior social content using video and highly stylized photography compared to their borderline amateurish posts. Leadership was also expecting their social streams to feel more alive with consumers engaging with the brand. This never happened. What they soon discover is that their social media manager may be a competent manager of social media, but they are not skilled at creating content worthy of representing an established brand. Your social media manager is not a photographer. Your social media manager is not a skilled graphic artist. Your social media manager is not a professional videographer or video editor.
Your leadership is now finally beginning to understand that business social media cannot be a one-person operation. It requires a team of strategic marketers AND creative content producers to build an authentic social media community. The company president has no intention of investing that heavily in developing a creative team with no guarantees of success. Therefore, where does this realization leave your company?
Stage Four: Business Social Media Depression
The next stage of business social media grief is depression. This stage is marked by feelings of defeat permeating the walls of your organization. Eventually, a sense of apathy about social media marketing develops amongst the leadership which was once the greatest cheerleaders to chase the competition on social media. Even the mention of Facebook or Instagram is meant with discouraging grunts, shaking heads and rolling eyes.
There are rumors spreading throughout the company that this social media experiment is on its way out. Your once enthusiastic social media manager feels lost and questions their own role in this social media disappointment. This person takes preemptive action by combing the job boards. Although this stage may seem bleak and without hope for social at your company, it is usually short-lived. It is a situational depression that may soon pass naturally as your company moves toward the final stage of business social media grief.
Stage Five: Business Social Media Acceptance
The final and most important stage of business social media grief is acceptance. The company and its leadership have come to terms with and are okay with the time, energy and resources lost in their failed attempt at social media marketing. Everyone has circled back around and again acknowledge the importance of business social media. No one feels that angst or resentment about the past, but instead want to focus on what can be done to move forward. The entire organization is in agreement about not trying to bargain their way into less expensive methods to obtain a social media presence and have zero desire to build internal expertise to make it all happen.
Your company is ready to move forward in building a professional brand on social media. With this renewed enthusiasm toward social media, your leadership has learned its lesson from the first go-round and decide to invest in a social media audit before investing in the necessary management and creative resources to develop and execute on a social media marketing strategy.
After doing some research on the multitude of options out there, you select a social media agency that can provide your brand an all-in-one solution, from competitive analysis and social media strategy to content creation and social media management.
Ready for Business Social Media with an Agency?
Some companies were lucky enough to foresee the complexities of implementing a business social media strategy and avoid these five stages of grief. They are certainly the exception. Most companies over the last decade have found themselves experiencing these stages first-hand, some are still making their way through this process. Whichever stage your company presently finds themselves, it’d never too early in the process to speak with a social media agency. Maybe your company is not ready to take their social media marketing to that next level. That’s perfectly okay as well. It doesn’t hurt to get informed on what to expect from professional social media management for your brand in the near future.