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Teach A Brand To Fish

Submitted by on March 14, 2011 – 10:54 am11 Comments

Helping Brands Understand Social Media

  • Have you tried to help a company that just doesn’t ‘get’ Social Media?
  • And then how do you turn over the reins once you’ve got them up and interacting in a real way?

Often the brand involved first needs a lesson in the ‘whys’ of Twitter/Facebook/Blogging etc. Later, helping them with the ‘hows’, is the easy part!

Why should a brand use Social Media at all?

  1. Be Present
    Their customers and fans (and naysayers) are already there. Are they? Especially on Twitter, are they present, are they interacting, are they answering questions and resolving problems? How can they do any of those things if they aren’t monitoring the popular social media venues?
  2. Customer Service
    Think of it in terms of responding friend to friend. And don’t get uptight about responding and solving issues on a weekend at midnight. But a short response with a quick support email address will do wonders. Tell them you will take care of them first thing Monday morning.
  3. Advertising and Marketing all rolled into one.
    Do they crave new users? Then Twitter is the place to put their name and products out there. Get the word out, get new eyeballs on the goods. Use Facebook for ads as well as a place to connect with new fans.
  4. Retention. Reward loyal fans and users.
    Really this should be titled ‘ATTENTION’ VS retention. When you respond to users via Facebook or Twitter or Blog comments they feel loved and appreciated. And will turn into loyal customers. Look for the positive comments and reward them! Give back to your base. Coupons, discounts, and giveaways are all great ways to return the love and keep ‘em coming back for more.

Don’t Do It All for Them

The definition of social media is to be SOCIAL. And helping a company to be social means they have to be personable, and respond as a human!

I’ve found that once I explain the reasons a brand should jump into social media, often the response is: ‘Great! Will you do that for us?’ And up to a point I’m willing. However, more important for the company is to realize it’s much better long term if THEY are the voice behind the Twitter account. And THEY should be the one to check in on Facebook and gauge the activity. And when there is a negative comment on a blog post, THEY should be the voice that responds sincerely and privately to the customer.

Another option is to hire a community manager or a brand ambassador. Someone who can help them connect via these various venues and capitalize on the relationships. Remember though, this person should be just as committed and passionate about the business as the owner or marketing director is. Otherwise you just handed over the microphone to a lukewarm spokesperson. Not a good idea.

It’s Better to ‘Teach a Brand to Fish’

Go ahead and jump in as a consultant and run their social media for a few months. But make sure you are teaching them the whys and hows along the way. Tell them from the get go, to have someone in mind who can take over the fishing pole when the teaching time is over. Will this mean you are out of a job at that point?


BUT.  If you’ve done your job well, more gigs will grow out of this one, because they will tell 10 people how terrific you are!


Photo Credit USFWS


  • I totally agree. I have turned down offers to “do someone else’s SM.” I know there are lots who do it, but I’ve always felt the voice on twitter should be the actual brand, not someone they find on the internet. The only time I really find it acceptable is when people are honest. Like in a twitter profile that says “tweeted by @justprecious”

    • Thanks Julie!
      It’s definitely a fine line at times. I agree, sometimes better to say no than do it all for them! I often tell them, I will teach you how to do it, but if they don’t come up with a person I can teach then what??! Good for company’s to start thinking about this stuff eh?

  • Amy B. says:

    Yes yes yes. I agree completely.

    I’ve managed people’s social media before, and I don’t like it. It’s always me pulling teeth to try and get someone to give me content and them eventually resenting me or learning how to do it themselves. So I’ve recently changed my business model to training businesses on how to do it themselves.

    Just last week the owner of a company I work with asked my why I did this. He couldn’t believe I wouldn’t try to get as much money as I could from a client. I told him that I believe in social currency, and that good social currency and a job well done leads to more cash currency in the end.

    I get very angry with companies who are trying to tell businesses that they should outsource all social media efforts. Thanks for helping to discourage that.

  • Lara says:

    Yes! Anyone who has ever run into what I call a “clinger” knows that there is value in teaching the skill. Not only to better equip the brand but to save your sanity.

  • Great Article Carissa!

    I work WITH many companies on their Branding + Marketing + Social Media. I train them on the A – Z on each of the Social Media platforms so they know how each of them work and the proper etiquette. When it comes to actually posting on Twitter and FaceBook it is a coordinated team effort.

    In 2009, I used to do everything for a brand/client/company. And in 2010 I transitioned most of the contracts to a coordinated effort. Where we are both are a part of all of their social media sites each day.

    As of December 2010, I had 6 stragglers who did not want to be a part of their social media marketing AT ALL and I thought long and hard about my business over after the holidays. I made the tough decision to not renew any of the 6 contracts in the new year.

    Wow were they surprised! 2 became consulting clients, 2 I handed off to one of my VAs to work for them directly,and two are MAD at me and can’t believe I would turn down M-O-N-E-Y!

    Well, now it is March and I have had TWO awesome and wonderful and ideal and engaged clients come my way that more than replace the 6 I let go! (o’ wonderful universe!)

    So, I have sat on BOTH sides of the fence and am now on the other side! It is awesome on working with brands and companies. It is great to train them on how we can do it together and why that is so important. It is still a hard row to hoe and to get them to buy in, but the impact and difference is incredible!

    There are just some things that people cannot do for you!

  • [...] Teach a Brand to Fish! Not sure what I mean by that? Check out my article on about helping brands understand Social Media. There is a big difference in doing it all for them and teaching them so the personal part of social media stays SOCIAL! [...]

  • Susan says:

    This is a great article. I have found there are companies who get social media and those that don’t. If they don’t get it, it can be a colossal task to get them onboard.

    I’ve heard company reps say things like “I don’t get Twitter so I’m not doing it.” or “Our customers aren’t on Twitter.” Your customers are on Twitter and if you aren’t engaging with those customers, even potential customers, you are losing opportunities.

    As for having companies run their own social media – if they want to have an honest, true place on the platforms, it has to come from inside. Companies who hire an outsider to tweet for them on the side are not being honest and upfront with their audience and customers. You are right. They are handing over the microphone to a lukewarm spokesperson.

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