Like any marketing or communications program, social media can’t be completely done on the fly or by the seat of the pants. There needs to be a plan of attack and structure so social media can happen as efficiently and effectively as possible.
To provide structure, many companies have created well-defined editorial calendars that include scripted updates and tweets that leverage keywords and marketing promotions. It means that a good chunk of tactical execution is set in stone as opposed to being opportunistic. For companies, a script provides them with editorial control because they know exactly what is going to happen and when. It allows them to do social media but, in some respects, apply the same approach as traditional marketing.
While there may be a role for a scripted approach, it would be a mistake for any company to believe this approach should be exclusively embraced. While it makes social media easier to manage, a scripted approach also removes the spontaneity, flexibility, engagement and, arguably, the fun from social media. By sticking to a plan that is created and then methodically implemented, a company is really just going through the motions as opposed to using social media in the right way.
A big part of social media is being engaged and listening to what is being said about your company, brand, industry and rivals. It means having a good sense of what people are thinking, and then having the ability to react accordingly. It could be direct engagement by answering a question, providing a resource or a link to relevant content, or acknowledging that you are, in fact listening.
Having a scripted approach, on the other hand, doesn’t allow much room for acting when required because, well, it’s not in the script. If you can’t play with other kids in the social sandbox, it really brings into question whether social media is really going to be effective.
My take on companies that insist on a scripted approach is they are either scared of social media, they feel an obligation to use social media but they’re not passionate about it, or they see a scripted approach as an effective way to manage resources. Whatever the reason, it seems like the wrong way to go.
This is not to suggest there is no room for scripted tweets or updates because it does provide a consistent foundation for a social media program. But there also needs to be room to react when required without having to get things approved or think too much. Social media is a real-time, dynamic ecosystem that sometimes forces companies to jump into action – something that can’t be scripted in advance.