The latest trend-watching post by acknowledged social media expert Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter on community management raises some interesting points and suggests a trend toward further outsourcing of various functions with a neat matrix showing four levels of community management service:
I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around outsourcing community engagement….who builds a community and then distances themselves from it in terms of hands-on immersion? What’s the point? This sounds like the marketing mind of a brand trying to be social vs. just being social.
This is at the heart of the challenge for many if not most brands. Having been a CMO myself and having advised many companies, I know they know they have to do something but what exactly? So the standard rabbit run is to pass the problem to an agency – PR, advertising, web. But while that may work for traditional one way communications, direct or third party, it won’t do for social where genuine engagement is key.
We may be just country hicks here in the UK but if outsourcing community management to third parties really is a trend, then it seems to me to be a retrograde one. Like inviting people to your party and letting a party organiser host it for you in your absence or worse, letting them pretend to be you. The need I see is for more organisations to get their own heads around ‘social’ and take engagement responsibility in-house, not the other way around.
To quote Miles again:
Let’s focus on authenticity. Let’s do the work ourselves. Let’s speak from our own mouths and from those closest to the brand.