PR Insider: How Do You Know When Your Client is Ready for Social Media?

Shawn Paul Wood
Shawn Paul Wood

Whether it is a new business pitch or a lunch with a friendly face, this question comes up in many forms because fear of the unknown is a thing.

We all have the client who is interested in swimming in the pool of social media, but they would rather dip their toe in the shallow end than strip down and do a cannonball in the deep end. That is where are all the cool kids (AKA “competition”) are swimming after all.

What is important is that it doesn’t matter if your client is ready. The media is ready, and they are already there – waiting. While the “Jaws” music plays (and good luck with getting that humming out of your head, by the way), here are three easy ways to tell if your client is ready to take the plunge.

1. They’re Talking About It. If you have interest, that is half the battle. While your client may be telling you to your face “I just don’t know,” behind your back and huddled under paperwork at their desk, they are scrolling timelines with bewilderment. “The competition is doing it, why can’t we?” The answer is “You can!” You know those team-building exercises where you fall backwards and people are supposed to catch you? Is there even a question that you (being the ever-willing agency) will let he or she (the buttoned-up client in a new suit and swaddled in trepidation) fail? No way. The client is interested. It’s time … only they don’t know it yet.

2. They’re Comparing Others Who Do It. Your client may be in a vertical that doesn’t really excite you (or many people) on most social media platforms. To which, I say “So what?” There is an audience for everything, which is why the Internet is such a glorious (and sometimes intimidating) thing. While the general populace of social media-ville may not find interest in number crunching, document filing, paper stapling, or whatever your client claims to be the leader at doing, there is a niche audience that will be all over it. Those are the people (e.g., influencers, media, audiences) you and your client need to reach. With your help on social media, they will be able to develop engaging content. Before you know it, your client has 100 followers, 15 likes, and a few comments on LinkedIn posts. I smell a retainer addendum, don’t you?

3.  They’re Preparing to Commit to It. Social media management (or mentorship) is no easy task, and it certainly isn’t something to which you dedicate 15 minutes daily and think you have it made. Social media is an evolving process because of people. There are new ideas, new efficiencies, new trends daily. You need at least 15 hours just to keep up with those. Add audience engagement, real-time conversation, and learning what novel and asinine text lingo is making the rounds, and you have a full-time position. Once your client understands the commitment it takes to create a persona online, the rest is the fun part.

In short, your client will float like chum for a while, but then, with a good amount of trusted counsel from your agency, they will make a ripple. One day, waves will be made all because of something they wrote and shared.

And then they are calling you asking, “What’s next?” They’re ready. They just don’t know it … yet. So? Why are you waiting? Go buy your client some floaties and get busy.

Shawn Paul Wood is a 20-year veteran of public relations, copywriting, and journalism. He is currently CEO of Woodworks Communications in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. Follow Shawn: @shawnpaulwood