As someone who’s half Irish, I look forward to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day each year (and no, not just for the Guinness!) However, before I run off to enjoy some corned beef and cabbage, I thought I’d share some ways that social media is a lot like St. Patrick’s Day.
“Today, everyone’s Irish”
Managers argue about which department should control social media, but ultimately everyone has a part to play in it. As recent Twitter crises by brands and organizations as varied as Kenneth Cole, the Red Cross, Chrysler, and Aflac have shown, anyone who’s connected to a brand becomes a de facto spokesperson when he or she logs in and shares a post or tweet.
It’s understandable that this can scare a brand, but companies shouldn’t overlook the positive implications of this shared responsibility: social media can humanize a brand and facilitate better customer relationships if its voices understand how they’re being heard.
Seeking the “wee folk” and their pots of gold
Social media democratizes communication. While a big brand may have more people listening to them online than an individual does, its voice is no louder. Digital-savvy individuals and small businesses can use social media channels cheaper and more effectively than they can traditional channels that are dominated by bigger names.
The increased voice of individuals can be an opportunity or a risk for brands. A happy customer can share his or her opinion freely, but so can an unhappy one. Don’t expect fact-checking on Twitter before a message spreads. Did you hear about the CNN anchor that laughed and made Godzilla jokes as the earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan last week? A lot of people retweeted that event, even though it never actually happened!
It’s an all day party!
St. Patrick’s Day is one of those rare days where people take off from work just to get an early start at the bar. While I won’t recommend you do the same, there is a lesson to be learned from them. Too many businesses see social media as a leisure activity that is detrimental to workers’ productivity. Often this may be the case (unless you can explain to me how Farmville is adding value to your department), but not always. With the proper social engagement strategies and policies, social media allows you to keep an open channel to your customers and stakeholders. Ask Comcast how social media has affected their customer service capabilities for the better.
I could go on with examples and aphorisms all day long, but a basket of soda bread is calling my name. How else do you think that social media is like St Patrick’s Day? How is it like your other favorite holidays?
I wish you all the luck of the Irish in your social media endeavors, and of course, great digital health. Slainte!