I spoke with Tom Parish yesterday about social media strategy and large companies. Be authentic. Check. Be transparent. Check. Be…organized?
Wha? The social media strategy guy at the conference didn’t preach that on stage when he was waving his book around.
Tom pointed out that in the 90s, every division of a big company wanted control over their presence on the website. There can be a lot of pride of ownership issues, with each division thinking their message and agenda is the most important. You can’t really blame each division for wanting to use the site to become more effective at their jobs, but giving each division control over the layout, voice and functionality of their website would not make for a very cohesive experience to the customer. It would also make it difficult to decide what sections to prioritize.
Social media right now has a bit of the element of the Wild Wild West. Some people go full throttle in with no strategy and get nothing but fool’s gold. Some companies are too scared to venture in such uncharted territory, refusing to let people actually talk back. What seems very common is that the top often doesn’t know or doesn’t care what the underlings are doing with it until an innocent blogger wanders into hostile territory and gets shot up by some Native Americans who didn’t exactly welcome their preaching the virtues of their company with spam.
Like a website, a social media presence can communicate a lot of things. It can reduce tech support costs (see Deirdre Walsh’s thoughts on connecting the National Instruments users to help each other). It can help you get new recruits from the people who know your products best–the users. It’s not just a leadgen tool. This is why I stress that it is not merely a function of marketing, and if you view it as such, you aren’t wrong–you just aren’t using it to its max potential.
What do you see as the best strategies for keeping a company’s social media presence in check?