Being Faster

One question I get asked from time to time by clients is about how they can be better at social media. Given social’s influence particularly among younger people, it is an excellent question. The answer is usually give is to “be faster.” For most companies, that’s much easier said than done and let me explain why.

English: Aircraft carrier in Portsmouth Harbour

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spent most of my professional life in the corporate world.  On a good day, they make decisions slowly in that world.  Not only is it like turning an aircraft carrier in that it takes a long time but you often have a hard time finding anyone who will admit to having a hand on the wheel or to get them to turn it.  For many decisions, that’s fine.  For those wanting to be good at social, it’s fatal.

Part of the problem is no one is quite sure who controls the social sphere and it varies from org chart to org chart.  PR, marketing, customer service, and other functional areas often have their fingers in (it’s not hard to find companies with multiple Twitter accounts).  Sometimes they have different agendas.  More importantly, they’re often staffed lightly and/or by interns performing the social monitoring and updating.  Memes last hours in the social sphere.  If you respond in a week, you’ve missed the peak.  Look at all the (lame) Harlem Shake videos that are still popping up.

Being faster means having a clear set of guidelines, finding professionals to implement them, and trusting them to do so without running every tweet up the corporate flagpole.  Most of the really embarrassing social faux pas have been made by clueless staff.  Sure, there is the occasional well-intentioned failure when a campaign gets hijacked but most are the result of just being lame and not paying attention.

We can count the number of corporately-created things that have “gone viral” on one hand.  Social media seem to have a pretty good nose for a company that’s trying too hard to create that social media hit and the backlash is often brutal (and funny).  Being faster has to recognize that hasty and fast aren’t the same.  But for any company to succeed the usual decision-tree needs to be pruned or uprooted completely.

Do you agree?

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