This week I’m reposting some of my most popular, and favorite, posts from 2011. This post was originally published back in April.
I won’t tweet for you.
No matter how much you beg, cajole, or even offer to pay me, I won’t. But don’t worry, there are plenty of others who will.
I’ve been sitting on this post for a long time because I’m not the ranting type, but sometimes ya just gotta rant!
As I meet with prospective clients and put together proposals, one question I’m often asked is if I will take care of the day to day management and engagement on things like Facebook and Twitter. Sorry, but the answer is “No”.
When you call a company’s customer service line and you clearly are getting someone in another country who is reading off a script, you don’t like it. If we don’t like outsourcing there, why should we accept outsourcing in Social Media? The potential problems are much the same.
I am a consultant and Social Media strategist. I will work alongside you to create a strategy and plan, develop and implement a variety of tactics. I will help you set-up your Social Media properties and educate you along the way on how to use them to build and engage your community. There are a lot of things I can, and will, do for you, but tweeting isn’t one of them. [Full Disclosure: I DO have one client for whom I tweet, however they are a client with whom I am very close, to the point of being considered an "in house" employee. There IS a difference.] Believe me, if you really want someone to tweet for you, they are out there. We have them here in our area, and they offer pricing structures that include various levels of “I’ll tweet X amount of times each week for Y-Dollars”, and the more you pay them, the more they’ll tweet. Or, it’s a set fee per week or month for something as vague as “Twitter and Facebook management and engagement” with no real criteria as to what that means.
Here’s why I won’t tweet for you, and why you probably shouldn’t hire someone else to do the job for you.
1) I’m only one person with one voice – I admit, when I first started this business a few years ago, I thought tweeting for others would be a main part of my business. But as it has evolved, I understand that I can’t represent a lot of different people on the same platform. I’d have to have multiple personalities to handle more than a few accounts and try to have a distinct voice on each.
2) My voice is not your voice -You are an individual and you have your own voice. My sense of humor is not your sense of humor. More often than not people can tell when the person tweeting for a business aren’t the business themselves. They just can, especially if they KNOW you and your business. I’ve followed friends of mine on Twitter because I know them and their business. This is a small town. When I try to interact with them, I can tell whether it is the person I know on the other end, or some hack they’ve hired to tweet for them. And you certainly don’t want to have one of those “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” moments!
3) More prone to error – Coming off of number 2, it’s a dead giveaway when the Twitter account has your name or the name of your business spelled wrong. For two days. And a link to the wrong website in the Twitter profile. Sloppy. And yes, I’ve seen that happen.
4) Twitter account confusion – Like I said, I do tweet for one client. I also tweet for myself and my business. We’ve talked about the Chrysler and American Red Cross situations where someone tweeted from the wrong account. If you outsource to someone who is managing multiple Twitter accounts, the more accounts they manage, the greater the chance of them sending the wrong tweet out over your account. If you’re a house painter and you’re tweeting about your upcoming custom jewelry sale, people might start to scratch their heads.
5) Engagement suffers – It’s one thing to actually tweet on multiple accounts, and another to truly engage on those same accounts. And we all know that Twitter is an engagement platform, not just a broadcast or glorified RSS feed platform. As they grow their client base, the outsourced tweeter will find that they are pressed for time. The first thing that will happen is that they will tweet less for ALL of their clients. Then they will cut back on engagement. And remember: engagement isn’t just responding to people who talk to you. It’s talking to people first and initiating conversation. You’re not just responding, but also reaching out to others.
6) It either builds no relationships, or false relationships – If engagement suffers, so will the relationship building. And if any relationships are being built, it’s between your outsourced tweeter and your customers. It’s NOT between you and the customer. I walked into a store once and the owner was behind the counter. I followed them on Twitter and we had had some great conversations. I introduced myself and they had no clue who I was, despite me telling them I’d be in later that day for a specific item. They had even responded, “Can’t wait to meet you!” Hello? You talk to me yet just a few hours later you don’t remember me or what I need? A rather embarrassing thing for that business owner who had no clue what was being said on Twitter on their behalf. I mean, if you were invited to a networking event, you wouldn’t hire someone to go there and impersonate you, would you? We need to stop treating our online presence as if it is any different from how we would conduct business in person. This IS real life folks.
7) I’m not as invested in your brand as you are – It’s your brand, not mine. You know your stories better than me. You wouldn’t hire someone to run a print ad or commercial for you before approving it, would you? You’ve worked hard to build your business and brand and you need to make sure that whomever is handling it for you online also protects your brand. What if, just off the cuff, I tweet someone that might go contrary to what your business stands for? I’m not saying you need to micromanage, and certainly if you hire me, I want you to succeed, but if you are in charge of tweeting, or someone who works for you in-house is, there is less chance of your brand and image being compromised.
8) It won’t build a community – I’ve turned down several potential clients because all they wanted from me was the handling of their day to day presence. In one case I was told I wasn’t to engage, even if someone asked me a question. In another, the plan called for me to tweet three times a week. Shoot, I can do that in 30 seconds in my sleep. You can’t build a true following based on minimal tweets and no engagement. You can hang out with someone all day, but you won’t get to know each other unless you actually talk to each other.
9) In the long run it will cost you time, not save it – Many times people want to outsource their tweeting because they don’t have time for this “social media thing”. But it could end up using up more of your time. The one client I mentioned in point 8 wanted me to manage a Facebook page for a community based business in a highly competitive business sector. But I was told only to post what they wanted, and not to respond or engage with anyone. OK, so what am I posting? Probably something you had to write for them and then email to them. Doesn’t that take more time than just posting it yourself? And as for engagement, if someone asked me a question about this business, which is in a highly regulated and specialized category, am I supposed to ignore it? Or do I then take up your time via phone or email in order to craft a proper response? Again, using up MORE of your time in the long run.
10) Laziness eventually sets in – If you outsource to someone, especially someone who is handling multiple accounts, they will most likely start out gung ho and tweet like there’s no tomorrow. But inevitably, that will taper off. Eventually, after having set the bar high, they will retreat to a more comfortable pace and you’ll be getting the bare minimum out of them. Punch in on the clock, punch out on the clock. Another day of tweeting done. Ho hum.
In the end, outsourcing customer service, engagement, and interaction means one thing: you want to save money. And, you want to save it in possibly the most crucial area of your business: interacting and engaging with customers. You know, the people who pay you for your products and services so that you can stay in business and make a living. Outsourcing is a short-term solution with long-term implications.
So, no. I won’t tweet for you. My advice is that you either do it yourself (in-house) or don’t do it all.
What are your experiences with those who outsource their Twitter management?