The foundational components of any effective Social Media strategy are authenticity and transparency, especially if blogging and microblogging are part of that strategy.
The power of Social Media comes from the personal brand that is being built by an author, and the benefit a corporate brand derives by having that person engage an audience in the Social Media community.
But what if the real voice and face of your brand is just too busy to participate?
My company has been the online services partner for one of our area's most visible brands for nearly a decade and a half. While they know their brand better than anyone else, we know their brand in the online space as well as, or even better than they do. If they could afford to pay me enough to leave the company I own and be on their payroll, I'm probably the most qualified person to BE them in the Social Media sphere. But they can't, and so we work with them as a vendor.
For blogging, we told them that unless it was actually the corporate face of the brand who's doing the blogging, they really shouldn't do it. A ghost-written blog is not a blog... it's really PR and needs to be renamed as such and moved to the appropriate area of the site. And so we used an integrated installation of WordPress on their site to post their press releases, giving them the RSS benefits of a blog, but clearly labeling it as "The News" and not a blog.
However, as an already popular location on Foursquare, not being on Twitter or Facebook wasn't an option for them. That put me in a weird position. Having developed their Social Media strategy, voice, rules and roles, and needing to accommodate their lack of time and internal resources, we decided to make Twitter a co-effort. Initially, I posted each Tweet, but only after their review and sign off. It was a clumsy process with some of them taking several back and forth edits prior to posting. However, that process resulted in an even better understanding for us, and an educational process for them. Eventually they realized it was just easier for them to post themselves, and a year later, we've gotten them to actually be doing all the Tweeting and Facebooking themselves. We still continue to monitor for brand mentions and let them know when they need to respond to something. But we showed them how to monitor, and they usually are finding things to post or Tweet about just as fast as we would have. We still help them develop Social Media based promotions, and take care of the Web and housekeeping aspects of the strategy, but for the most part, they have become pretty much self sufficient.
It was a difficult path, because initially, it could have been regarded as a violation of the authenticity and transparency that Social Media requires. But the alternative was a brand eroding silence in the Twitter-sphere and on Facebook.
It's a tough decision that many are faced with: outsource or not participate. But because not participating is not an option, this creative approach may be the only solution available.
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