I used to travel by airplane a lot. 100,000 miles in a year was not unusual for a while there.
In general I got used to flying but like a lot of people I always had the panic button go off when we’d hit a rough patch or when landing in so-so conditions.
I bring this up today because a number of pieces I’ve been reading in corporate uses of social media remind me of the primary driver behind that occasional fear of flying: the sense of not being in control can be terrifying.
Media, and marketing media in particular, have always been subject to enormous control. After all, what’s more important than the company message and how it’s presented? Using social media is like raising a child. You do the best you can before you send it out into the world, but once it’s out there anything can happen.
I’m struck by how many companies are investing in social media (according to one study, as many as 23 team members supporting social in big companies) and yet they might be doing so incredibly inefficiently. I’ve found that social media teams tend to be decentralized and they often are a mix of in-house staff (who may or may not have much training), consultants and even community members. As a result there’s often confusion and off-message posts. And that’s before the social sphere starts responding. Marketers are doing a better job of monitoring relevant social activity but are often terrorized by what comes back (ask McDonald’s, LG, and other’s who’ve had hashtags hijacked).
We still need to get from point A to point B quickly so we get on the airplanes. It’s the same with social media: we need to engage our customers and potential customers and social is becoming a major part of the marketing plan. We make airplanes safer – we can do the same with social by doing a better job of monitoring and measuring results (and stop thinking that “likes” and “followers” are good metrics!). We’re never going to get full control of either the plane or the social sphere, but we can get on board knowing we’ve done everything we can to assure a safe trip.
You on board?