Like many of my colleagues, I frequently have to answer the question of why your company needs to be on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. This seemingly straightforward advice is an ongoing battle where corporate reluctance, internal business complexities and/or genuine misunderstanding of the medium win more often than not … Until something like these two scenarios happen:
- Last Monday two employees of Domino’s posted a YouTube video in which they are shown preparing food in a deliberately unsanitary fashion. Popularity ignited in a matter of hours resulting in wide exposure across all media. While Domino’s took quick and appropriate action, the company failed to respond on YouTube and Twitter in the first 48 hours.
“What we’ve learned is if something happens in this medium, it’s going to automatically jump to the next,” Domino’s spokesman Tim McIntyre said. “So we might as well talk to everybody at the same time.” (via Los Angeles Times)
- Last week Amazon had a “cataloging error” in its database that effectively removed many gay and lesbian themed titles. Amazon waited for almost a day to communicate the problem — igniting outrage and boycott threats from a significant number of its existing customers.
“This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error,” Drew Herdener, spokesman for Amazon, wrote in a statement.
Other nightmare scenarios can be created, whether by one’s own doing, from malicious attacks from outside and even mere accident. Whatever the case, the two examples above clearly demonstrate that the cost of inaction and non-participation is too high to be left unaddressed.
But let’s be fair: it’s not as if Domino’s didn’t recognize the severity of their problem–but fixing it is not as simple as pouring a bucket of water on a burning saucepan. Virtually no organization can be as nimble as one (or two filthy) individuals. In other words, maybe criticism of corporations “not getting social media” should chillax just a wee bit. Most companies acknowledge the importance of social media today but many struggle with how to align social media with their strategic communications function.
One possible solution? if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em …
- Instead of suing, CNN recently hired James Cox, a 25-year-old Brit who has been running the @CNNBrk Twitter account for two years without their consent.
- Instead of taking over, the Coca-Cola Company embraced its existing Facebook fan page and invited participants and creators to visit the Atlanta headquarters.
Your advocates are probably already doing your work for you. And, yes, you have to find resources internally or externally to monitor and proactively engage in the space — there’s no need to wait until the dominoes start falling.