I’m always a little leery when someone that I’m doing business with says, “I can do that also.” I’m not unilaterally opposed to it, but I do usually give it a good think.

The last time we moved, the movers were doing the initial walk through and asked why the piano wasn’t on the list. I replied, “I have piano movers set up to take care of that.” To which he replied, “Well we move pianos all the time.” I was respectful of his attempted cross-sell but still politely declined. Piano moving is a very specific area of expertise so I typically stick with piano movers. Oddly enough, later that day, the piano mover came out to inspect the site and finalize the quote. He looked at the rest of the house and said, “Who’s doing your move? ‘Cuz ya know … we do whole house moves as well.” I politely reminded him that his value to me, and the reason I don’t mind paying 4x as much per hour, is because he knows the intricacies of safely moving a piano.

What if you recently found out you were pregnant — You excitedly await the set number of weeks where you can freely tell friends and family. You notice that you have your annual checkup with your general physician and decide to keep the appointment to tell him the good news and check in one last time before you switch over to your obstetrician for the next 8 months or so. You jokingly say to him, “Well, see you in about 8 months.” To which he replies, “Well you know, you don’t have to switch over… I deliver babies as well.” I’m sure some people wouldn’t mind, but most would politely choose to stick with the specialists. Especially when the stakes are so high.

SocialPath Solutions is one of my newer startups. The idea is three-years-old, but the company itself just started year two. SocialPath is a social media engagement company. We leverage our consulting services and hosted social response teams to help our clients achieve their business goals through social media engagement and service.

We’re Social Media Specialists. Social media engagement is all we do. We live, eat, breath, and sleep social.

We are in growth mode so a lot of our time goes to biz dev… meaning, we pitch all the time. The model and value proposition is compelling so we don’t hear ‘no’ all that much, but when we do, there is a common theme. The prospective client usually says something like, “Our (fill in the blank) does that as well.” The blank is usually an ad agency or a contact/call center. I’m sure some agencies and call centers can indeed pull off a social media engagement or social customer service project; however, I’ve learned something these past few years.

Social media is an animal. It’s a wild and unpredictable animal that, that never sleeps.

Companies can’t afford to ignore their customers on social, and can’t risk the potential damage to their brand if their customers are not engaged properly.

Now do you see why I started with pregnancy and pianos?

I know that Henry Ford is “so 19th Century”, but there is still something to be said for specialization. Especially when the stakes are so high.

Some estimates of customer churn are as high as 15% for brands that fail to engage on social media. So sure, let the company you’ve outsourced payroll to become your benefits provider and HR help desk; that’s synergy. But when it comes to closing the gap between your organization and your customers… better stick with the professionals.

Photo:Vitor Lima / Flickr