Right at the beginning of this post, I should state that:
I do think hiring a digital agency to help with social media is worthwhile.
I do also think that in many organisations, decision-makers feel that they have no idea about social media, so are going into the process of deciding a strategy rather unprepared. Hiring a consultant is one thing, but a consultant comes in, has a look, gives you his verdict, and leaves.
The loveliest testimonial I got on linkedin recently was that ‘out of all the people who try to talk to us about new ways of working, you seem to be the only person I know who actually lives this.’
It’s true, I’ve been sort of involved with every new development in online communication since the early nineties, when the publishing company I worked with used a bulletin board network called COM with groups, emails, instant messages to keep in touch with its translators and editors all over the world – all DOS based, before Windows took over the world!
Even though we used the Bulletin Board Networks and, of course, email for work, and then later on, around 2005, started using msn messenger in workflows… I never thought that being on the cutting edge would mean anything.
Then of course I and millions of others all started using twitter, which to me with all my history of being an early adopter of every online communication tool known to man is a revelation, for many reasons. It’s open, it’s minimalist.
What I’ve done, rather than the classic consulting model, and what I found very effective, was to go into an organisation for a period of several month, and coached them right from the top in what twitter means, how it works, how they can use it to engage with their users. The result with my most successful project to date was that after my involvement, they are now handling their twitter feed themselves, driven by the Assistant Director. No extra budget, just a lot of value.
There are two ways I’d like to engage with decision-makers. I’d like to coach them into getting a feel what social media is like *before* they make strategic decisions for their organisations. And, if they’ve already outsourced it, I’d like to help them understand how important it is to have a long-term strategy which aims for the organisation to ‘speak for themselves’, directly engaging with clients/customers/prospects/users. This is quite different from traditional consulting, it’s human-scale, it’s adapting to the particular needs of the organisation and the people involved.
As a result, the decision-maker has an involved crew and a good idea what he’s making a decision on.
The advantages for the organisation:
more informed decisions mean tighter control of budgets
internal communications improve with adoption of social media
decision-makers armed with more knowledge and the right questions to ask when being pitched to
Advantages for us all:
tweets from the highest levels of the organisation means more interesting twitter streams
direct engagement is where the real strengths lie
faster and better decisions during emergencies (example: library, rail company)
And the advantages of hiring me:
I am knowledgeable in my field, I know the scene, and I’m adaptable.
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