How Scripted Should Social Media Be?

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.

6 Comments on “How Scripted Should Social Media Be?”

  1. Agree wholeheartedly. Good social media is about good conversations. When was the last time you had a really good “scripted” chat with a friend. If marketers want to succeed in the social media arena, they need to give and take, not just give.

  2. I’m going to disagree with your post. While social media is certainly about finding opportunity in the conversations that exist on different social networks, it also shouldn’t be about saying anything without a script.

    As part of many of our social media programs it is a requirement to have content calendars developed a month in advance so our clients can approve the content and conversations we hope to create.

    Additionally, though best practices and pre-approved tactics we have a level of flexibility in our up-to-the-minute responses on the different social channels.

    While I don’t necessarily disagree with the idea that social media should be reactive and in the moment, the thinking is still flawed.

    Would you have a customer service call center without scripts or general guidelines for answering questions when calls come in?

    Would you immediately put the first design idea on a billboard without following (or developing) brand guidelines?

    Scripting, as you put it, is about preparation and anticipation. With the right community management team the conversations and responses should still be in the moment and free flowing while keeping to a brand’s voice, tone and objectives.

    Otherwise you will find yourself without much to measure against in six or twelve months and even further away from an ROI or proof that your social media initiative is driving little in the form of results.

    1. Dennis,

      Thanks for the insight. I think there’s definitely room for editorial plans/scripts but there also needs to be flexibility built in to accommodate anything that might pop up. It sounds like you’ve latched onto the right approach. cheers, Mark

    1. Yeah, I totally agree with both Dennis and Marc — social media requires a human voice. It’s important to have pre-approved messaging that fits with your brands goals and strategy. However, when a fan/follower asks your brand a direct question, you be prepared to answer it immediately without approval. The approval process takes way too long when social media is so dependent on instant feedback and discussion.

  3. Pingback: Chasing Rainbows | Why You Should Script Social Media | From Bogota With Love

Leave a Reply