Nike’s decision to take full control of its community management has jolted agencies to consider the impact of companies becoming more adept and sophisticated about social media. Nike’s decision has, no doubt, prompted other big brands to take a closer look at their own community management practices to figure out whether internal teams are better equipped to manage the volatility of the social sphere. That’s not to say agencies won’t play a role in community management, but Nike’s move points to agencies potentially moving more into consulting -- rather than doing -- mode when it comes to social media.
The Holmes Report asked three community-savvy experts how they believe the responsibilities of community management should be delegated across brands and their agencies.
Rick Wion, director of social media, McDonald’s
“In an ideal situation, community management should be led by in-house resources but with the support of agency. Even the closest agency does not have the intimate knowledge of a full-time immersion within a given corporate culture. However, agencies should bring a broader perspective of what works across multiple brands. We take such a hybrid at McDonald’s. What I think is also critically important is a regular review of your ‘brand voice’ regardless of who is leading a given community. With my teams, we are regularly taking a step back from our day-to-day community management to ensure we are in line with the appropriate tone of the brand and spirit of a given campaign.”
Vikki Chowney, head of community, TMW
“I had been writing about people to taking community management in-house for more than two years before joining TMW because I expected [the industry] to be more advanced. Yet, the demand from clients to have us manage their communities has just begun and we’ve seen a tremendous spike just in the last 10 months. For companies, like Nike, taking social media all in-house makes sense. But many companies are still asking questions like: 'What is the best platform? What will I say? How will I support this?' When a client does not have the internal resources or the knowledge of best practices, it makes sense to give community management to a trusted agency.”
Susan Butenhoff, president/CEO, Access Communications
“Succeeding as a community manager requires many things, including rapid access to key decision makers and information, as well as an in-depth knowledge of the brand, voice, products and landscape within which the company competes. In an ideal world, organizations of all sizes would have in-house community managers. The reality is that many simply do not. Access Digital frequently helps such brands grow and nurture their communities as they transition (and in many cases grow) into an in-house model. Our preferred engagement is one in which a community manager(s) is in place and our digital work can supplement or otherwise enhance the initiatives and content being produced in-house.”