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Social Media Bench Warmers

December 24, 2009

I’m noticing a lot of larger companies these days sitting on the social media bench. “Where is this overcrowded bench” you ask? Well the bench is symbolic of companies that have chosen not to participate in social media campaigns to boost sales, brand awareness, customer service or incite feedback. It seems like companies think that by avoiding social media all together they are more in control of their brands than if they’d just play a round or two.

The reality of the whole, “we’re not quite ready” position on social media is that it’s hurting, no, killing your chances of making an impact. The fact is many large companies are scared of taking the social media leap because they may get it wrong or even worse, say or do something stupid. Let me dispel both of these theories quickly. For starters, by not participating you’re already getting it wrong. Secondly, you may say or do something “stupid”, but no one is asking that your companies first tweet, Yelp, facebook post or Linkedin thought be on abortion, healthcare or religion. No one is asking/expecting you to take a plunge into social media just because you can. Steady steps, two way communication and a consistent message always win the social media race.

Another popular myth regarding large companies embracing social media is the cost associated with the “proper” campaign.  Some on the most effective campaigns I’ve seen  on twitter or facebook are low key, low cost, consistent and transparent. Now, some firms and specialists will certainly disagree, but I do not think that a “campaign” has to be a production. The idea that a room full of suits with a median age of 47 telling me how to reach the 18-30 demo effectively with a rather new and quickly progressing marketing/customer service tool seems a bit absurd. Truth is that most firms I’ve seen pitch or present really don’t get social media either. I’ll get into that in another post.

A few of the examples of effective and cheap campaigns would be Home Depot’s, Whole Food’s, or u-Hauls’s ability to employee someone or a few someone’s to monitor twitter, Yelp and facebook. These people respond to customer grievances and react as if they were face to face in the customer service line at their local retail store. Seems easy and cheap enough right? That’s because it is. The idea that you are in control of your brand by not taking part in social media is an illusion and the sooner you realize that the better. Get off the bench already and play a few rounds in the social media world. If you don’t become a social media juggernaut don’t be surprised, but a few points will certainly put you ahead of where you were before.

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