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Social Media - Fight or Flight

Not so long ago, a marketing campaign for a lot of companies involved twenty people in a room, phoning numbers from a business directory, asking with desperation in their voice, “would you like to buy what I’m selling?” known to some as the scattergun approach to marketing.

These were faceless operations by companies not trying to attract customers with a carrot, but find the unsure and whip them into the desired sale. Needless to say, receptionists and call centre staff became well practiced at saying “I’m sorry, he’s not here right now, sorry, unfortunately I can’t give out his e-Mail address!”

Then social media happened and gave companies an alternative, still carrying the same message but rather than chasing customers into submission they began trying to attract potential customers. Progressive companies saw the benefits and started blogging, tweeting and engaging prospective clients directly, enticing them by being experts or free information providers. Some companies began to see benefits in encouraging staff to build their own social persona to further spread the brand and the message.

This lead to a parting of the ways: some companies adopted the open-minded and potentially dangerous “let the staff say what they want, it’s all exposure” style, whilst other companies banned the use of social networks or at least marshalled them with military efficiency. Simply put, some ran away from the problem; others tackled it head on.

Those that opted for the open, encouraging style may have had their fingers burned on occasion, but overall will be reaping the benefits now.

Those that implemented a total social lockdown still have the hard work to do. They still have to make the mistakes before they work out the best way of using social media. And the social media audience is far less forgiving now than it was a few years ago when everyone was just starting out.

Late arrivals to social media marketing may also find it hard to be heard because their audience has already found their champions. It’s tough to dislodge the guys at the top now that they have built up their social reputations: I know who my favourite industry experts are and you’re now going to have to work pretty hard to take my attention away from them.

As the “social media” juggernaut rolls on, gathering momentum, companies face an interesting choice.  Face up to the challenge; make some tough decisions about company policy, or turn and flee from the problem, and pray your competition doesn’t run straight over you?

Has your company wrestled with this decision? What way did you go?