Kory Kredit wrote a thought provoking article today on his MediaPost blog. Basically he was warning companies to not hand the keys to the kingdom to an outsider that cannot possibly have the same knowledge or passion as an employee or business owner....REALLY?
I'm guessing that Kory purposefully chose to come down hard on agencies to help spark the debate - it worked! As in most issues there is a middle ground. All companies, large and small, have a division of labor and responsibilities according to skill and experience...this includes responsibility for managing, shaping and measuring the company's on-line presences and effectiveness.
Companies constantly run the risk of loosing touch with their clients and the market. Lots of reasons for this - often senior management gets tunnel visioned on their specific areas of responsibility.
Human nature being what it is - too often they just get arrogant and complacent. They do not want to hear the valuable feedback of the social media managers - particularly when it includes bad news (i.e. unsatisfied customers, market share loss, etc)...any more than they want to hear the same from Customer Service or the Sales - who also are in a position to know what the market is saying.
I agree with Shelly's response- that a passionate social media consultant/agency can be as effective as an employee - if goals and expectations are aligned.
The REAL issue is whether the company has:
A) Realistic and measurable goals and expectations for their social media programs - rather than just doing it because they think they have to, and
B) Communications Channels and internal processes to ensure that the senior management hears, understands and effectively responds to the input.
Disney and Chick fil A require their executives to work in direct customer serving roles on a regular basis, to keep them in touch with their clients and to share the customer experience. I propose that the same philosophy be applied to a company's social media interfaces to ensure that this valuable source of insight is not lost or squandered.
In other words - it's not bad to use external social media communications firms - but it IS wrong to not pay attention to what the market is saying - regardless of the source.
What do you think?