As I sat down to write this post, the social channels were all abuzz about the Burger King Twitter hacking that occurred Monday morning. If you were under a rock, or on a plane like I was, here’s the basic story:
Someone hacked into the Twitter account and stated that McDonald’s had bought BK out because The Whopper had flopped. The hackers sent out a stream of silly and vulgar tweets until, around 1pm, BK had the account suspended.
This hacking itself, although humorous, wasn’t really that clever or rare. In my opinion it did no damage to BK’s brand; we all fear hackers and understand how powerless companies are when targeted.
Things like this occur at lightning speed and, although you cannot totally prevent them, you must be prepared to deal with them at lightning speed as well.
Welcome to the marketing reality all companies must deal with.
“Be prepared to be spontaneous” rears its head again. The pace of marketing has changed; it’s undeniable. If you aren’t prepared to speed up the pace with which you handle social marketing in particular, you will have issues.
That is easier said than done; even large brands struggle with how to manage the pace and requirements of live social marketing.
Coke, fully prepared with a war room of social pros on Super Bowl Sunday was hit by the limitations of Twitter on its own microsite. If large brands with social war rooms for special events run up against internet snafus, you can imagine the push back smaller companies react with when the need for speed is touched upon
Client Resistance: Two Primary Fears
Any marketer broaching the subject of serious social outreach with a client has experienced the movement from excitement about potential, to creeping dread when we get down to the actual strategy.
When contemplating the possibilities and pitfalls of the need for fast paced social marketing, companies must face two main issues:
1. PR Preparedness: who is going to be the point person if, and when, a PR crisis develops?
2. Manpower requirements: how do we utilize our already busy staff to man our social communities, especially during ‘non-business’ hours?
The days of being able to vet every response to customer complaints through a convoluted approval system are gone.
If you’re engaged in conversations on social media, you’ll have to train, prepare, and then trust your social management team. That means paying professionals and not relying on a team full of free interns (nothing against interns as part of the team, but you need some experienced business chops at the helm).
And that means paying people to work those social channels during business AND non business hours.
Often this is the point in the conversation where our clients who are fairly new to social business become overwhelmed by what’s required and think about putting the brakes on.
The smart companies slow down, strategize, develop a ‘plan for spontaneity’ and this fast paced world, and forge on.
More and more, companies are accepting this new reality.
Do Brands Now Need to Be “Always On”?
This doesn’t mean all great marketing has to occur at the spur of the moment. There will always be room for incredibly clever television ad campaigns; and sadly, that damn Geico Gecko isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Smart ad campaigns that arc over time will continue to drive business. But quick witted, spontaneous occurrences in the social space can and will bring buzz to brands as well, often at a fraction of the cost.
There are still ongoing debates in the marketing world about what a proper response time is. I am of the belief that no one requires a response in the middle of the night.
It is also perfectly acceptable for you not to respond within minutes to a PR crisis that requires legal advice. However, most requests and questions you receive on social media don’t require an attorney, just simple courtesy.
The essential ingredient in building a hyper loyal community is making them feel like they are part of something; nothing does that better than direct communication.
All of this requires a lot of resources, and yes, it may mean hiring new people, but there are a lot of ways to skin a cat.
The first step is to look at internally at how your manpower resources are currently allocated: how much return on investment are you getting on the hours your employees currently spend on marketing? Is there room to move some of those hours and people over to your social channel?
If you’re not prepared to hire, you may use an agency to give you time to learn and prepare for internal social management.
For every problem, there is a solution.
Creating the right team and environment to thrive in the fast paced world of social business is entirely doable, with the proper planning and foresight.
VP of Content & Strategy at ArCompany. She has an extensive background in Sales, and focuses on generational marketing and content. With Hessie Jones she founded ArCompany’s Millnnnial, GenX and Boomer Think Tanks and writes and speaks on those topics from an insights/strategy perspective.