The whole point of engaging with consumers socially is transparency and availability, right? So how do you work with a service provider to manage your Social Media program without risking your authenticity? How do we, as the agency, ensure that we're delivering the right message with the right voice, and maintaining the integrity of your brand?
We believe that the answer is simple: Immersion.
A creative agency I once worked for often received the compliment from its clients that "your team knows us and our customers better than we do!" This is what our team at TimesTwo strives for every day. Whether we manage ongoing campaign execution for our clients, or just develop and implement a best-use strategy, we immerse ourselves in their products, their culture, their customers and their brand. We live and breathe their lives during our critical Research phase, and learn how they make decisions, how they choose products, how they manage their operations and more.
Plus, as direct marketers by trade, we spend a lot of time looking at quantitative research about their customers as opposed to the more romantic (but less behaviorally accurate) focus groups and surveys. Of course we want to know what customers' aspirational views of themselves are, but we think it's incredibly important to understand how they're ACTUALLY interacting with our client's brand and the greater retail world around them.
We use the information we gather to identify the right person on our client's team to be the voice of the brand on the Social Web. Sometimes, that's the CEO; more often, it's a head merchant or customer service advocate who's passionate about the product and understands what her customers are looking for. It's a different approach to Social Media Marketing, we know. But we've found that there's a deeper level of engagement when we find the right voice, and when we can connect to customers in a way that's relevant and meaningful to them.
If you're a retailer or multichannel merchant engaging with your customers socially, how do YOU maintain your authenticity? How about those of you who've retained a firm to help you manage those programs -- how did you choose the right team to ensure your brand is protected? We'd love to hear from you!
Here are a few articles we like about transparency in Social Media Marketing:
- Ellie Brown, "Is Your Agency Showing?"
- Steve Woodruff, "Who's Behind the Avatar?"
- Beth Harte, "Social Media Ghostwriting: The Great Marketing/PR Debate" (This is a fairly lengthy article, but Beth makes some great points towards the end of the post that support our Immersion strategy.)
- Stuart Bruce, "Ghost Writing Blogs: Right or Wrong?"