I spent the first half of today chasing new business for Velocity Digital. I have a pretty in-depth process I follow, however after enjoying a meal in a local restaurant (with units across the country), I decided to pick up the phone and call their marketing manager with a view to discussing their digital marketing activity and how I felt I could improve it. It’s never easy to tell people their baby is ugly, but it is often the best way to get their attention.

So I took a deep breath…

and dialled the number. Straight through to the chap in question, excellent. I asked him how he was and quickly got to the point – ‘I’d like to talk to you about your digital marketing activity…’

The response

‘If you’re talking about social media, I’m not interested in that s***’.

Boom! He cut me off. Talk about putting me on the back foot! This chap has clearly been burned before. But I knew that might be the case, I looked at their social platforms and they were stuffed with far too much pointless content and zero engagement. The problem was, they were continuing to be operated on that basis. Now, social was only a part of what I wanted to discuss with him, but I wanted to know what had happened (other than the poor work I had observed), to make him feel that way. We had a lengthy chat and by the end, I had heard exactly what I could have predicted I’d hear – he had paid an agency to come up with a social media strategy and implement it for him. Their strategy was week, as was their output and their reporting. Sounds all too familiar.

I asked him why he hadn’t stopped using them. His response? – ‘they told me that to stop now would be really bad for the business’s image as people now expect us to be using social’. Yes, when a business is running an effective social media presence that is communicating with and serving customers, it can be a bad idea to pull the plug, but this couldn’t be further from that scenario!

He told me he was now worried to stop it, even though he felt it was returning very little. Pretty scary! Like many business owners, this chap isn’t a marketer, he’s a man who is passionate about what he does, in his case, running great eateries! Perhaps understandably he has taken what this agency have told him as gospel.  I’m meeting him next week to have chat and put to bed some of the nonsense he has been told.

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/oli/

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/oli/

Social media is still a dirty term

to many people. You only have to hear cases like this to know why. Too many businesses have been stung by paying out for services delivered by people that have little chance of delivering success and hide behind a heap of cow-dung when things get nasty. It’s nothing new, but I’m wondering when it will change? Will the people who create this bad perception eventually fall by the wayside? The longer it goes on, the worst the perception will get. We all know that people talk more about their bad experiences more than their positive ones, which leads to these bad perceptions being extended.

What to do? Well, I think that people, agencies etc that are delivering quality work that involves the use of social media need to start making more noise about it. Do we need some kind of accreditation? Possibly, but that would be hard to administer. A set of industry standards that must be followed? I don’t have the answer right now, but if you would like to talk about doing something to try and shift perceptions, please do contact me, or start some chat in the comments section below.

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Mike McGrail

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Unicorn image used under creative commons and via Rob Boudon on Flickr. I added the orange.

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