To tweet or not to tweet

I kicked off the blog this year by promising to asking a question once a month. Much like my other resolutions, this never really made it past February. Without committing myself to another doomed resolution I’d still like to ask a few questions and open the topic up to debate.

I was catching up on some reading and came across a case study about the social media success of US airline JetBlue. One particular section got me thinking:

To tweet or not to tweet

I won’t name agencies, but we had a couple of agencies who talked about how adept they were on Facebook and how incredible they were on Twitter, and one of the agencies — it wasn’t probably a day after we met with them — I started getting follows from people in the agencies and they were all from accounts that were created in the last two or three days.

Marty St. George, Senior Vice President, Marketing, JetBlue (source: Mashable)

Do agencies need to tweet to prove they “get” social media?

As the head of digital at H&K Sydney it may surprise you that I don’t think every marketer should be on Twitter. I find people to be apologetic if they explain that they’re not into it. So what? It’s a personal preference to use a social network that is appropriate to your style and your needs. I love it, and I’d love for my interest in it to be contagious but I’m not fussed if someone else doesn’t get it. If Marty St. George had struggled to find on Twitter a representative of the agency in question  I’d be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt – maybe a few key people ran personal accounts and numerous accounts for clients. Of course that wasn’t the case.

From an agency point of view, it would be odd if a good digital agency didn’t have a good digital presence. However marketing is supposed to be about knowing your audience. If clients need help in digital because they don’t understand it themselves, they’re probably not the type to stumble across your blog or follow you on Twitter. There’s a difference between proving yourself to your target audience or advocates and grandstanding in an echo chamber.

So what’s my answer? Yes, to prove you get a social network it would most likely be necessary to be active in that social network. However there’s nothing wrong with having a damn good reason why it’s not appropriate or suitable, as long as you’re happy to admit that.

Would love to hear your thoughts – fire it up in the comments! Do agencies need to tweet to prove they “get” social media?”

~ by mandi bateson on July 5, 2011.

9 Responses to “To tweet or not to tweet”

  1. Your question does remind me of that old proverb “never trust a bald barber with your hair”.

    I don’t think they need to tweet to show they get social media just like I don’t think they need to have a Facebook page for their agency but I do believe that one or more of their staff should have a presence in social media simply because you could spend your life analysing social media without ever using it but that loses the point of what it is all about.

  2. Social media is about being social 🙂 Seeing if the agency/agent has a presence online doesn’t necessarily indicate that they “get” social media, but will at least provide a gauge of how “social” and sociable they can be.

    Thanks for the food for thought, Mandi 🙂

  3. Of course, using a tool doesn’t mean that they use it effectively either 🙂 Social media is still a new channel of engagement for brands, products, companies and, dare I say it, real people, too. I’m often baffled by the behaviour of people who are apparently “experts” (and not just of the self-proclaimed SMEG variety either).

    I wonder if sometimes it is better to hear that someone is familiar with a tool and is looking forward to learning alongside you to discover the best way to use it, rather than the confident bluff and bluster?

    I’d always choose to be taken on a journey rather than have something done for me as part of some “don’t you worry about that” black box.

    I’ve wandered off topic, haven’t I? Sorry.

  4. We’ve all gotten better at social as we’ve used it more.Our own experience helps us to guide and lead our clients. This is not something we learnt at University. It’s rapidly evolving and has its own language, memes and etiquette.

    I can’t think of a good reason to pay a company for their social expertise if they’re not part of the community. Whether they believe they have a good reason or not I’d always go for someone that ‘shows’ me they can do it rather than someone that ‘tells’ me they can do it.

    For the most part agencies are populated and managed by people who are entirely full of shit. These are the same people that hadn’t heard of social four years ago, mocked those using it two years ago, got an account 1 month ago and now want to charge a large retainer to show others how to use it.

    Fuck that shit.

    I want to see that you have been at least curious enough to have an account for a while, and that you’re not a herping derphead in your daily use of it.

  5. And I totally agree!

  6. Thanks for all the responses! For those who’ve answered so far and for those possibly yet to answer, how can a client/prospect determine your understanding of using social networks for a brand by stalking your personal account? What would you tell them to look for?

  7. As an agency person (or freelancer) I’m one of those people who’s ‘full of sh*t’ and have been wheeled out in front of clients as an old digital hack to talk about social media, pleading with my colleagues ‘but I’m not an expert in social media!’ with them saying ‘yeah, but you know more than us and more than the client so go do it’. In the kingdom of the blind…..Along the way, I have learned a great deal, so there are some aspects of it all that I can confidently say I can advise people on. Whilst I have profiles (and a blog) I’m not v good at maintaining them – the cobbler’s children go unshod? I think that it is relevant for a digital agency to discuss and discover digital marekting – if they don’t have people in their midst who do this naturally (talk shop on twitter & their own blog) then haven’t they hired the wrong people? You don’t have to use social media to work here, but it helps….The other problem is that it all takes time – I notice that the people who blog and tweet well are on the whole either a) pre or no kids or b) have kids but also a partner who doesn’t work time. As a mum of 3 who works full time, and has no ‘downtime’ at work, I struggle to see how I’m meant to generate a lot of content as well – you’d need a job that has a lunch hour for that.

  8. I’m a big believer in agencies practising what the preach. Agencies need to use the web to showcase their work and harness social networks to spread the good word.

    • Do you think it’s interesting that while SMBs/SMEs and large corporates all have marketing departments, agencies rarely dedicate a resource to it themselves?

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