One of the biggest challenges for digital marketers is the speed at which social media moves. Conversations, trends, and potential crises come and go on an hourly basis, while traditional marketing processes align to weeks and months.

The ability to identify and engage with brand-relevant situations requires a timeliness measured with a stopwatch, not a calendar.

As Ferris Bueller admonished, life moves pretty fast, and if you don’t stop and look around, you might miss it.

Conversely, you might get stung by it. One of my favorite social marketing stories comes from Chevrolet. Initially blindsided by a spokesperson’s bumbling of a World Series MVP Award presentation last October, Chevy’s Jamie Barbour worked with agency Fleishman Hillard to quickly embrace and capitalize on what otherwise would have been a public relations and social media disaster.

The #technologyandstuff campaign was conceived late that night, approved by Jamie from her living room, and delivered within minutes.

The capability (and chutzpah) required to execute at this speed is something most marketers just don’t have…yet. Social marketing technology can help, but it can’t overcome cultural meekness or lumbering, outdated process built for traditional marketing.

Marketers and their agencies can’t predict when the next big reputation threat or opportunity will come. But they can prepare.

Look and listen constantly.  Make your processes flexible, empower your people, and embrace calculated risk.

As Ferris also said, “Only the meek get pinched.  The bold survive.”

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