Monday, 26 January 2009

Speed and the Barrier

How do you manage a ‘social media’ campaign? The breaking down of barriers that Internet communication has encouraged is probably faster and more fundamental than many communications managers realise. One major problem is the challenge of speed – you can no longer take a few days to respond to a media enquiry while your exec finishes travelling or deals with ‘more important’ business. In a social media environment, people expecting total access and answerability from your organisation are beating on the door right now. There’s no gatekeeper anymore, remember?

It’s also worth bearing in mind that social media is user-driven so you’re leading a conversation and, like all conversations, it will have ebbs and flows. You can’t expect relentless positivity but are aiming to have an overall dialogue that puts your position and proposition.

Another issue facing social media campaign managers is that of approvals. In the old paradigm, your agency made sure that every single communication was approved. It would never do, for instance, for the agency to be speaking in your place. And agencies, for their part, wanted to be indemnified from clients’ actions and liabilities. If you’re running a campaign that cuts across websites and interactive, ‘social’ media, someone needs to be posting, responding, commenting, Tweeting, filming and uploading content on your behalf. And that either means that you, as a campaign ‘manager’ need to be 100% engaged 24x7 in your campaign or you need to redefine the rules so that your agency has a wider scope of responsibility, empowerment and response-ability. That means you have to let your agency take more risks on your behalf, and therefore that your agency is sufficiently indemnified to take those risks. Dispensing with indemnity can be an expensive game for the hapless communicator.

Likewise, you need to be sure that you’re working with an agency that understands those risks, that gets where the pain points of social communication lie, but also that understands the issues of corporate governance in this changing environment as well as new expectations of corporate behaviour. It can be a complicated trade-off – ensuring that the company is answerable at every level and yet also responsive at every level, that it is transparent and yet decisive and that it communicates with its stakeholders appropriately, despite the immediacy and ubiquity of online ‘social’ access.

This piece originally appeared as one of the chucklesomely named 'A Moment with McNabb' columns in Campaign Middle East magazine.


DXBluey said...

Just curious - how many Middle East brands are running campaigns of this contact and complexity across a wide spectrum of social media outlets?

Any examples as I don't see such depth...

alexander... said...

's funny, Campaign asked me that yesterday. But I'd agree with you.

We've run a number of smaller campaigns, more extensions of existing 'analogue' campaigns, which is where these questions and musings came from, really. But nobody's done anything 'big' or 100% social as far as I know.

We're pretty far behind the curve, I suspect because so many social media sites were banned as 'dating sites', so society in general here hasn't really played around with that stuff so much. I reckon this will be the year that changes in a big way... Look at the rate Twitter's growing in the UAE!

Catalin said...

After reading your article, I just thought I'll share something with you.

I think the market is not mature enough for running social media campaings. Many agencies are not even used to pay for using other people's intelectualy property and I've got a perfect example that happened just a few days ago. Visiting the following link last week I find that one of my shots has been used without them even trying to contact me to ask for permission:

At first I thought it's some small agency that can't afford to pay for images, but imagine my surprise when I find that the agency is Media Quest Corp, the same agency that publishes Communicate and Gulf Marketing Review.

So I dont think there are many agencies responsible enough to run social media campaigns here...

Seabee said...

Pretty far behind the curve indeed. Businesses here are still only one step removed from the telex era, at the phone and fax and 'you must visit us personally' stage.

They don't even understand basic company websites or e-mail.

Dana El-Baltaji said...

Mr. Catalin is right; kippreport used one his pictures without his consent. He contacted my colleague to let us know, and the team acted as soon as we could to pay his fee.

In our defense, we were unaware that the photo was rights managed, but that’s little comfort to Mr. Catalin. The fact is that my colleagues and I would be livid if someone used our content without the payment and the recognition we deserve, which is exactly what happened when we used Mr. Catalin’s photo.

All we can do at this stage is apologize to Mr. Catalin, pay him for using his picture, and learn from the experience.

Dana El-Baltaji
Managing Editor

Catalin said...

I am very impressed by the fact that someone from the Kipp Report actually responded publicly to this. So here's to one company admitting their mistakes!

From The Dungeons

Book Marketing And McNabb's Theory Of Multitouch

(Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I clearly want to tell the world about A Decent Bomber . This is perfectly natural, it's my latest...