By Peter Kozodoy
According to the Mobile Marketing Association's Mobile Native Advertising Report last year, mobile-native ads performed as much as 10 times better than mobile-display ads at a similar frequency. It's easy to see why native is so effective: Social media gives us so much data that we're able to serve tailored messages to very specific audiences, making those ads highly relevant to the viewer. More and more marketing agencies are getting savvy at social media marketing, and hundreds of firms specialize in the growing niche. With ever-increasing returns on investment in the social space, what could go wrong?
In a word: everything. Professional social media management is a serious game for both agencies and clients, and clients should beware of the pitfalls that come with poor choices. We've seen countless examples of prospects who come to us too late -- when what they really need is crisis management, not social media management. Almost always, if the client or its agency had prepared for situations that arise when you open your brand up to public conversation on social networks, the issue could have been prevented. With that in mind, here are four crucial ways to secure your social media marketing and defend against both cyber security and brand integrity dangers:
Ask about the agency's security measures. How does the team choose passwords for your accounts? How do they limit access to those passwords among the team? On what devices will your social media accounts be open? When you hand over the keys to your social media accounts, you'll want to make sure that precautions are being taken to protect against hackers or even unforeseen data breaches that can occur at the agency. We educated one of our client's teams on how and when to get involved with their own account. Ask for training sessions and/or a written handbook so you're on the same page about whether accounts can be accessed on-site, off-site, via mobile apps, via personal accounts, etc. Ask about the agency's social media protocols. A professional marketing or advertising agency should have a written procedure for dealing with disgruntled employees, unhappy customers, foul language and other inappropriate content. At a minimum, the procedure should outline how quickly posts are removed, and/or how to report situations to you or your team for an executive decision. Not only should you be comfortable with their procedures, but you should also be comfortable with your responsibility to get back to your external social media team in a timely manner. Your online reputation depends on it! Ask for details. Don't just stop at the salesperson or principals of the agency you hire. Instead, ask to meet the key member(s) of the social media team who are responsible for executing the work. In the conversation, ask the team to describe problems that have occurred in the past with other clients, and have the team describe how they were resolved. Remember that social media is an extraordinarily fast advertising medium: We once had a restaurant client whose happy hour post ended up on the Facebook page of a higher education client. Luckily, we spotted the post within minutes of it going live and were able to rectify it. Now, we have a "write-edit-proof-post-check" procedure that allows for catching those sorts of errors before they even happen. Those are the honest stories you'll want to hear in your sit-down with the team. Monitor progress internally. You or someone on your team should be monitoring your social media platforms at least weekly. It will only take a few minutes to scroll through the posts and assess their response rates. We once had a client start a war about parking with their next-door neighbor, which the client played out on his own Facebook page (against our strong advisement to keep it private). Don't meddle with the team you hired to manage your social media, but do check in at regular intervals.
One unfortunate phrase we hear from prospects is, "We don't want to be on social media because people can say negative things about us for everyone to see." The truth is, people are going to say negative things about you and your brand, anyway: You may as well be there to guide the conversation with a competent and effective social media marketing team. Ultimately, social media marketing and native advertising are vital parts of any comprehensive marketing strategy today, and there are still opportunities to be a first-mover in many industries. Plan carefully, and be sure to participate in the conversation.
Peter Kozodoy is an author, speaker, serial entrepreneur and the Chief Strategy Officer of GEM Advertising.