The PR agency should get involved in your social media efforts; that could include designing and executing your strategy. From identifying the best places your audience “hangs out” to content creation, it is your PR agency’s job to get you going down that path. An agency with expertise in your market is vital here, because if it supports clients in different industries, what works for one may not work for another one, and you do not want to waste time and money, trying to get connected with an audience that is really not interested in what you have to say and sell.
The question I get from a lot of companies is to what extent the agency will get involved, and they pretty much want to know if the agency would blog, tweet, or maintain the corporate Facebook Fan Page on their behalf. If needed, yes, we would do it. It is not ideal though, because I still believe that it’s something that should be done in-house, especially when it comes to conversations such as the ones on Twitter, but if the PR person chosen to do that is familiar with the industry and the company, he/she can become the voice of the company. For startups, unless they are lucky to have somebody in-house who is social media-savvy, and wants to take this task on, bringing an “outside voice” may be the best way to go. Lack of resources or “fear” of the unknown when it comes to social media may be some of the reasons why a startup may not be ready to execute a social media strategy on its own. On the other hand, it is natural for some corporate execs to try to control the social media efforts as much as they can, approve copy, etc., and it’s not easy to find the right voice either. It helps if, for example, the person chosen to “do” social media on behalf of the company (under the company’s Twitter ID) has a strong and very targeted follower list on Twitter, because it is easier to get the same followers interested in their client’s tweets. Also, it is easier to engage in conversations if he/she knows the right followers and the right topics.
As with any information that is disseminated to the public, the PR agency should also advise on what can and what can not be said, because there are things such as roadmaps that you do not want revealed on Twitter.