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6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: Other Pros

This is part 5 of 6 in the series “6 Things You Need to Know About Running A Social Media Program”. You can read part 1 “The Client” here, it has a full introduction. Part 2 “The Product” is here, part 3 “Your Audiences” is here and part 4 “The Channels” is here.

I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do.  This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those.  Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.

Know Other Professionals

It’s important that you don’t get yourself into something that is not a good use of your time.  Know your strengths and weaknesses, and if part of a package deal is to provide a service that you aren’t strong in…hire it out.  I’m not kidding.  Hire it out, no matter how big or small you are.  Believe me, in the corporate agency world this practice isn’t just commonplace, it’s expected.  Think about building a social media program like building a house, and you are the general contractor. It’s your job to make sure the work gets done, and you may even pick up a hammer and hop in to help.  Leave the plumbing to the pros and focus on the big picture.  I know the temptation is to try to do it all yourself so that you’ll get paid more, but in my experience 9 times out of 10 this doesn’t work out quite as expected, and unmet expectations abound on both sides.

I’ve heard it said that the day you get a client is the day you start losing them…this idea is reinforced quickly if you try to do work that is outside of your scope of expertise. If you agree to do everything for a client and then actually try to do it all yourself, chances are great that you are either going to under-perform or miss your time line…or both! A good social media program typically involves strategy, deployment, creative assets, copy writing, analytics and reporting. Given that one of the key components of social media is immediacy and timing, trying to do all of this by yourself probably isn’t going to work.  It’s great to have a new client, but it’s even better to keep those clients and renew contracts quarter after quarter or even year after year. I think one of the best ways to insure that you keep them when it’s time to negotiate is to make sure that you are playing to your strength, and subbing out your weaknesses or those things that aren’t worth your time.

A good example of this usually involves creative assets. If you work with your client for any amount of time, eventually they will ask you for video creation or editing. Is this something you’re really good at? Most people aren’t, and trying to learn something like this on the go is very time consuming, which means you’re going to lose a ton of money trying to figure it out…and then you probably won’t deliver an A+ product anyway.  Take the time to get to know a video person or two (in case the first is busy) so that when it does come time to chop something up and syndicate it to YouTube in a short time frame you can deliver and not let the overall campaign suffer because you don’t know what you are doing.  Beyond video there are many other areas that you may want to look for assistance, particularly in the areas of creative and analytics.

How to develop your network – In terms of expanding your professional relationships, there really aren’t any shortcuts if you want to produce strong and lasting connections; and trust me on this, you want to.  I’ve met most of the people I know online at first, then usually in person later.  I go out of my way to find and follow interesting people on Twitter, and I particularly like to find folks in the cities I frequent: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and New York.  As well as I get to know people this way, I almost always do business with people that I’ve met face to face.  For that, I try to attend a few local tech and marketing events each month.  Be careful with this, if you try to attend everything (especially in the larger markets) then you’ll spend a lot of time and money socializing.  These days, when I attend an event in Los Angeles I usually set up Twitter searches for the hashtag or event name a few weeks ahead of time then pay attention to who is talking about attending.  I’ll usually engage them online with something like, “Hey I see you’re going to be at the such and such event in West Hollywood next week, let’s make time to say hi”, and of course when the event rolls around I make the effort to meet them.  If you start going to these, make sure you give a quick glance over my article “Social Tech Event Survival Guide“…if nothing else you’ll remember to bring breath mints ;)

After meeting people at the event(s), make sure to follow up with them with a quick email, reminding them of who you are and what you do.  I usually reserve phone calls for those that I need to do immediate business with…the debt of the call and voicemail can honestly be too burdening on an alright tight work schedule.  An email shows that you remember them and that you are interested in keeping in touch, but it’s something that they can address in their time and on their terms.  Naturally these days I also put up a friendly tweet thanking them for their time.

Because of my efforts of the years to seek out friendly and awesome people, I have a network of artists, copy writers, attorneys (yes, they come in handy sometimes), video editors and just about every other profession that I would ever need to tap in social media.  When the time comes to subcontract with them I usually try to hire them on terms that will account for about 30% of the allocated money for that particular project, which also allows room for management and overhead.  Not only am I covered professionally, but I have to say…now when I walk into a tech event it’s really nice to see many people that I consider friends.

Knowing other professionals can be critical to the success of a social media program.  Next, in the final installment of this six part series I will talk about something that is even more important…knowing yourself.

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Photos used under Creative Commons License. Seated professionals from thinkpublic and Blogworld photowalking from John Pozadzides
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By Matt Singley

Personal: husband to Alison, father to four amazing kids. I used to live a fast but enjoyable life in Los Angeles, now I have chickens on acreage in Charlotte, North Carolina. Just a bit different. I'm an advocate for cycling as much as you can and eating as cleanly as you can afford. Professional: I'm the CEO of Singley + Mackie, a creative digital agency that serves well-known lifestyle and entertainment companies around the world. Clients include Microsoft, Samsung, Hulu, YP and others. If you want to find the more-professional me, go to http://singleymackie.com