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07 2010

CAN YOU DELEGATE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PROGRAM TO SOMEONE ELSE?

Posted in Social Media | 12 comments

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Everyone waxes eloquent about the power of social media.  If you know what you are doing, you can create a loyal following, generate excellent leads, boost your profile, build brand awareness, establish yourself as a thought leader and build your business beyond its traditional geographic boundaries.

But what is the bad news about social media?  Probably the biggest negative about social media is that it takes time.  And a lot of it.  Even if you limit yourself to a couple of tools (blogs/Twitter), social media will still constitute a several hour a week commitment.  A chunk of time which most of us really don’t have. 

All of this brings me to my next question.  Is it acceptable to  delegate some of your social media efforts (i.e. writing your blog posts or Tweets) to someone else?  Or is this against the spirit and grain of social media altogether?

There are two very firm schools of thought on this issue.  The first is scandalized by the thought that anyone would even CONSIDER letting someone write their social media communications.  To the purists, delegation is tantamount to treason.  By delegating out your own communication, you are untrue to your voice and deceptive to the social media communities you want to connect to.  Delegation is deceptive. .  It is not genuine-and being genuine, open and transparent is the point of social media in the first place.

The opposing school of thought says, Why not?  If you are in control of the message (i.e. directing people what to say), why can’t you let someone ghost-write for you?  As long as that person is familiar with you, your tone and manner and the thoughts you are trying to share, what is the harm? 

I personally stand somewhere in-between.  I disagree with the purists that you can’t ever delegate out some of your social media.  However, I feel hesitant when people just want to shove the task off to someone else because they can’t be bothered.  

I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue as, given the time commitment necessary to create a winning social media program, it is a crucial  issue for big and small companies alike.

 

  1. Paul Peterson says:

    At SXSW, Gary Vaynerchuk responded to a similar question by saying, “You can’t scale authenticity.” I too would cringe if any organization proposed a rubber-stamp, templated approach to social media. One size does not fit all. But, does the one doing the writing need to be employed by the company? I don’t think so. I think the author needs to be invested in the company. Think about it this way. The ideal situation is that the company chooses an employee to be the author of the company’s blog/twitter/fan page/whatever. Who’s the company going to pick? Probably (and hopefully) someone with integrity, someone who knows the company, and someone who can write in a style that people will want to read. That person might even be supervised and their work may be subject to approval. Why can’t that person be employed by an agency? If a talented writer at an agency is taught how the client company thinks, and gets input, approval and critique from the client, then how is it different than having someone in the marketing department of that client company doing the writing? Look at it another way. Is it wrong for a PR agency to write a press release for their client? If you didn’t know anything about media relations, would you rather pitch a story yourself, or would you want someone with experience and relationship to help you do it, or maybe even pitch it on your behalf? Or how about this – if you were being prosecuted for murder, you know your alibi better than anyone else, but you’d still hire a lawyer, wouldn’t you? I wouldn’t advocate just handing your social media keys over to an agency. You still need to be an active participant in your own social media strategy. But I’m not sure I see a problem with hiring an expert for help. Even if it’s help with the writing and publishing. And if that’s what you’re doing, I don’t think you have to sacrifice authenticity to reap the benefits of professional help.

  2. Deb Mullen says:

    Interesting thoughts and ones I have been having
    recently with regard to my own online and offline
    social communications.

    I like my own writing style and much prefer to
    communicate my own thoughts and feelings, but delegation
    has become IMPERATIVE in my business if I am to achieve
    my own Social Media Objectives.

    My solution is to “marry” a personal assistant who
    will be able to aid me in “Exposing my Brand” through
    the ethers, leaving me the time to “create” the
    messaging and staying true to my business philosophy.

    Deb

  3. Steven Groves says:

    Susan,

    Speaking from experience, I’ll suggest that an individual using social media, the ability to outsource your social presence is very difficult. As a consultant in corporate strategy and how to produce ROI with social marketing, a corporate brand in social media has to relinquish control of the activity to some degree to a trusted team, but that is what you do in marketing anyway when it comes to engaging an agency.

    So like so many other things in life, the answer is ‘it depends’.

    Be well and be social!

    Socially Yours,
    Steven Groves

  4. Great post. It’s a tricky area. I first thought of this when I started following Tom Cruise on Twitter. I quickly learned that it was a dedicated pleb doing the tweets. His account became boring and very textbook in terms of what to tweet. So I unfollowed.
    If you do have someone else representing your brand, they really need to understand your business inside and out, and also have the ability to keep it personal. Like I said – very tricky. I guess the social media vision and implementation would need to be detailed in the marketing strategy.

  5. I agree with you about social media being somewhere in between. Large companies like Dell and Zappos, Chanel, Gucci and many others delegate their social media to “spokespeople” within the company. Maybe the Chairman of the board has a Twitter account or Facebook, but I would venture to say they don’t spend the time it really takes to build strong relationships.

    I also think it really depends on what your social media goals are. For instance if you were like Dell and wanted to use Twitter for customer service, then customer service people within your company may very well be the ones who participate on that social network.

    I could go on and on but think you get the idea.

    Purists aside, from an economic standpoint if a company wants to use social media as one of the vehicles to brand their company, then they will use the most effective means, networks and people to accomplish those goals.

    Great topic!

    Heidi Richards Mooney, author
    Quirky Marketing Calendar

  6. Laurie Maden says:

    This is tough! I have very mixed emotions about the question, and frankly lean a little more toward the purist. I blog and cannot imagine someone writing something in my name.However, I know how difficult it is to find the time, and am still struggling with fitting it into my schedule. I guess if it’s important enough – you make the time. I also think your business goals will determine whether it’s appropriate for someone else to handle your social media program.

  7. Marc Prince says:

    Interesting concept, ghost writing a blog. As I struggle with whether or not to even start a blog I have considered how much of the info I find in other blogs. Yet another dimention of having soneone else write content for the blog.

    Thank you for the thought.

    Marc

  8. Most small business owners find it near impossible to spend the required time need to maximize the full use of their social media tools. I have a number of clients who have secured my services to manage their their social media accounts and to be their ghost-writer. You are right, I have to become familiar with their style and they want to vet the material before it’s published.

  9. Terri says:

    Businesses cannot afford to NOT be social networking, and if that means to hire a virtual assistant or create a new position it should be done. Print advertising, in my opinion, is expensive and the internet (today) is free. Build your fan base and then market to your customers/fans!

  10. Rod says:

    I think it depends on where you are coming from. Big business work with a lot of people (in and outside of the company). Many have outsourced a lot of consumer contact to different extent. I think it is ok and for some companies very wise to bring in other to help who have more expertise. Some mid-size companies could gain a lot from this. I really believe that in doing so both companies need to have a commitment in helping the customer.

    On a personal level if you want to make a personal connection and you have some one who advises you, that good, but I would advise against a ghost writer. That just takes away the real personal connection.

  11. It’s hard to find sharp blogs on this topic, but you sound like you know what the heck you are talking about! Thanks.

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