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Social Media for the Sophisticated, Seasoned & Scared

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Peddling Social Media Door to Door?

As a part of my profession, I monitor certain key words that could lead to possible business opportunities as well as any terms that will alert me to industry changes. Today, I received a Google alert about a company that was seeking social media solutions in a particular reagion. When I clicked on the link, I was surprised to see that it was a company that was hiring sales representatives. That part was not shocking but what did intrigue me was how the job ad basically told their business strategy for gaining new business. The strategy, itself, wasn't anything new or innovative. It's just that it never crossed my mind to apply this particular model to securing new social media clients.

Here is what they do. They hire field representatives and assign them to a certain territory where they will go pound the pavement, door to door, pitching social media solution packages. See, like I said, the strategy isn't new. We've all seen field representatives pushing anything from magazine subscriptions, credit card processing machines, vacuum cleaners, cutlery to printers. So it was only a matter of time before someone thought of this. Afterall, any business that sees the value in buying an ad in the yellowpages, investing in a direct mail campaign, or purchasing TV, print or radio ads, should appreciate the savings and "added value" that an effective social media presence guarantees.

Aside from basic traits that most employers expect candidates to possess, like ambition, the company only requires that you be curious about the newest trends in social media. That's it. They promise if selected, territory managers will be trained and provided with local support. The earning potential is limitless, however, the position is commission-based. This is the caveat. Regardless to the amount of hours and gas spent prospecting, when you don't sign a new client, you won't receive any compensation. That's scary in a time like this. While the listing states that you'll receive competitive benefits and an option package, this is only after you've achieved set performance goals. The company also states to get managers motivated and "quickly up to speed" commisions will begin at 80%. Although that sounds tempting, the ad also states that the packages range from $99 per month to $950 per month.

I've been preaching for a long time about how affordable social media marketing is in comparison to traditional advertising and marketing. So you won't get an argument from me that this company miscalculated their target or approach. What I can offer is words of wisdom to small business owners. It's a gamble to contract a business to handle such an integral part of your business's identity. If you don't know a lot about Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, LinkedIn or Flickr, please don't be fooled by the first well-dressed and socially articulate person that approaches you, just because they have a lot of friends, fans or followers. Studies show that the quantity of friends or followers doesn't equate to influence or a strong understanding of social media. Investigate their case studies, client roster, and the reputation of their own brand across cyberspace before hiring your strategist. The beauty of social media is the process of sharing and discovering information. It's the exchange, interaction and immediate reaction that makes social media such a vital business tool. Strategist know that the process is just as informative as the outcome.