Setting The Client’s Expectations On Social Media

Filed as Editorial on February 16, 2011 11:36 pm

Following up on my previous post The Problem With Social Media Marketing” I thought about how to fix the problem of clients expecting more than they should from Social Media and what agencies need to do about better marketing their services.

To execute an awesome Social Media strategy you not only need to understand the client but the client also needs to understand what they’re buying and the impact it can make. Guiding them through the many uses of Social Media (from spamming to revolutions) and crafting a custom approach for them will help create more honest and organic results.

Understanding How Social Media Should Be Used

To better understand how Social Media can be used for your client, you need to get a grip on what you’re pitching. Some agencies make the mistake of selling Social Media as just a medium. If you’re a client to one of these agencies, you might have been proposed something like “We offer Twitter and Facebook updates, content submission to popular social networks and some form of community building.” While that’s not exactly the wrong approach to pitch a client on Social Media, it’s far from the best. This approach is totally void of content and lacks a unique approach. The strategy you create and pitch to a restaurant would be wildly different than one for a band or a corporate figurehead.

Another pitfall agencies stumble in to is not properly explaining the advantages and disadvantages of Social Media. The best analogy for Social Media is putting a huge megaphone to your client. If what they have to say is truly interesting, people will listen amidst the noise. If your client’s product or message is revolting you run the risk of angering people and dismissing the both of you.

Being frank and upfront to yourself and your client about their brand’s perception online will be impacted (for better or for worse) is one of the most honest things you can do.

Take A Custom Approach

The beauty of working with Social Media is the many approaches you can take when working with a client. Everyone has a different message, you should never, ever offer a cookie cutter approach. Doing so is a disservice to your client and limits the creative power you have while casting you in a bad light for future clients. There are many details you have to keep in mind such as the tone of the client’s message, how they want to be portrayed online, what’s the best demographic to interact with and what kind of content should be created.

If I’m creating a Social Media battle plan for a heavy metal band, I’m not going to bother submitting content to Social Networks that prefer more pop friendly artists and I wouldn’t care so much about Blog posts when managing a YouTube channel with music videos, interviews and live footage is much more important. Alternatively, working with a local business limits my social outreach to networks and Blogs that focus on the area the client is based in.

It Takes Time

So you’ve got an interesting client with something to say, a custom approach to Social Media but face the impossibility of churning out results over night? Stressing to your client that Social Media isn’t an an overnight business will save you hours of headaches and help realign their expectations. Pitching a client on the overnight success of their brand using Social Media is one of two clear indicators: they’ve got amazing viral content planned use a service to generate bogus paid followers.

Viral content is not always a guarantee, just because content is great doesn’t always mean it can go viral and just because it’s viral doesn’t always mean the client will benefit but creating viral content should not be ignored. Using a paid service to get bogus followers is the equivalent of taking a shotgun and leisurely shooting at your foot. Paid followers won’t be the people talking about your client and may opt to talk about themselves shifting the attention from your client back to them. Taking the organic approach and talking about something interesting (which should be easy because we’re working with a client that has something worth saying remember?) will amass followers that actually listen and talk not about themselves but your client’s brand.

Pitching a client on Social Media is no different than pitching them on other projects such as web programming or graphic design. You need to give them the full scope of what you intend to do for them with Social Media and how it varies from other proposals you’ve sent clients. Making your approach unique will keep you on your feet (in a good way). But do realize Social Media takes time to create results but taking the organic route to community building is one of the best things you can do.

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