Tea Smith has recently left the Far West (ok, Perth) to a new city (Sydney) and coast work on a startup social media company Schematiq. I asked her some questions on Social media and creating a new company in an area as fluid as social media.
1. Schematiq is creating a Social Media service. How does Schematiq differ from the plethora of Social Media “experts” that seem to clutter the internet?
The difference with Schematiq is that we aren’t just “Social Media consultants”. In fact, I cringe at that term and I have been tempted to shy away from it! Obviously, we are offering this Social Media Management service as a product that has been created in response to requests & feedback from the market — but strategy is paramount (as is measurement). Our focus (and passion) is about making sure that any investment in new technologies or platforms always comes back to core business goals.
The difference with this package, over other Social Media Management or VA services is that a) we are focused on hiring the best social media talent b) we have access to range of celebrity/high profile bloggers and c) it is always underpinned by a strategy.
More broadly, a major frustration for us is that your traditional social media consultants are so focused on Tweets & Likes & day to day management at the expense of actually looking at the broader strategic aspects — such as Crisis Response, Collaboration, Policy… how you manage your processes and people…
2. How much of Schematiq is service and how much will be platform, given that both you and Martin Frinking have extensive web and IT backgrounds?
Well, Schematiq is, first and foremost a Social Consulting company, so that incorporates a fairly broad scope of services, from Enterprise 2.0, BYO Tech, Cloud, Collaboration — right through to social media and digital creative. Because of Martin’s extensive experience in IT Project Management and particularly large-scale implementations, and my background in Digital Creative and social media – there is a lot of overlap in what we can consult in.
The Social Media Management Package is just one product that has been developed in response to a gap we have identified – where there is a need for high quality, strategically aligned social media management.
So whilst it is predominantly a service-related business, we are looking at developing a wide range of both services and products as time goes on.
3. How important is social media for a brand, especially since we have seen some spetacular social media failures recently?
The failures actually highlight how important not ignoring social media is — not just in the form of making sure you have a presence, but a strategy and a set of policies to deal with a crisis. It is not simply about the setup and management of a Facebook Page, Twitter or LinkedIn profile. It is how you develop a strategy, manage your processes and work with your people to adapt to disruptive technologies.
The next step, is to make sure you have the right people managing the front line. Whether this is by hiring someone with specific skills in social media management in-house, or using a service like ours… you need to ensure that you treat your social media channels like any other front-facing aspect of your business and have people that know how to manage it.
4. In what way should a company that may be less technically aware engage in social media?
The key point is that social media is not actually about technology. People get intimidated, thinking that Social Media is about being tech savvy. It is about communicating effectively and having processes to support it, like any other aspect of your business, from Accounts to Marketing, to Legal. One of the key shifts in thinking is away from the gadgets and the tech and into seeing these things as tools that help you do what you’ve always done… which is to build relationships, have conversations and engage with people.
We obviously offer the service where we can manage it for you, or help to transition the business into using social media themselves. One of the key benefits of using someone like Schematiq is that Social Media is what we do best — so we work with our clients to come up the best approach for them. We can ease through them through in a way that makes the technology component less intimidating. Because the tools are generally pretty intuitive once you know how. The big step is in the psychological shift and the changes in thinking, or making it a priority in your workflow that we help with.
5. Is there an issue with companies like Facebook and Twitter ‘utilising’ information created by or for a company?
What we are seeing is that a lot of the networks are under tremendous pressure to a) value and protect Privacy and b) have some transparency about what they do with the data. Because every company is different, every strategy is different, and as such, the approach will have to be tailored. The flow on from that is that you have to consider the platforms’ Terms as part of the strategy. Obviously because we are across this it is much easier.
But generally issues of ownership of IP, Copyright, privacy are the main 3. But as social media evolves (and it is still evolving), we are seeing less risk. Again, it comes back to having a strategy that considers all factors and assesses the risk versus the benefit of any individual platform.
6. How adaptive will Schematiq be, given the fluid nature of technology and social media?
Well, we are as adaptable as a Company can be, given that we are both leaders in our fields and passionate, early adopters ourselves. We are going through many of the same struggles that our clients do with Social Media, and we stay abreast of all major developments.
The industry is huge. It is so difficult to keep up with industry developments, as technology is changing at an exponential rate. But it is our job to filter all of that information and align it with the needs of our clients. It all comes back to making sure that requirements are easily adaptable – by reviewing performance and adjusting the strategy accordingly. It is part art, part science.