Real world events move faster than DHL and UPS. Social media let’s businesses stay on top of these events and reap whatever advantage they can from them. Some may say taking advantage of real world events in a real time way is being opportunistic. Some may say it is marketing savvy. I’ll let others debate the ethics of it and focus on how social media can turn chaos into opportunity.
1. Faster than a printer. Announcing a special or event via social media only requires having a strong social media presence. There isn’t the hassle contacting a printer, getting artwork and copy to the printer, and waiting for the printer to run the job and shipping it back to you. Even then you aren’t done since you have to distribute those flyers, posters, whatever to where they need to go. Through your blog, your Twitter, your Facebook page, and even YouTube channel if you have one, you can announce your special as soon as you are ready to make the announcement.
Example: Wisconsin senators fled to Illinois. No one could have predicted this but it created an opportunity for businesses wanting to capitalize on the extra attention to have ‘Runaway Senator’ specials. Any hospitality business could have quickly launched a Runaway Senator special, even if there were no senators in the vicinity.
2. Up to the minute. Some announcements are completely up in the air until the last minute. Social media allows a business to wait until the last possible moment to make sure the most current information is available before communicating to the public.
3. Trial balloons. Ever sit around and discuss ideas with friends, commit time and resources to an idea, only to have it be a bust? Are probably more likely, there is a kind of sort of interesting idea but when you look at the financing required to promote it, the risk is too great so it doesn’t get implemented. Social media helps lower the cost of initiating ideas.
Example: Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog is a wonderful example of trying something different and new without committing crazy amounts of resources to the project. Marketing and distribution relied upon social media and the loyalty of Whedon’s supporters.
4. Get Solutions. Every business runs into undocumented problems, whether with software, websites, people, or scenarios that require time and energy to investigate let alone fix. Through social media, you have access to a vast array of people who may not know the answer themselves but have access to their vast array of people who might have the answer.
Example: Journalism professor Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) will at times use Twitter to ask questions of his followers for help on research or as a mini-focus group. Like when he tweeted for help on a subtitle for his book.
5. Immediate feedback. As an event is underway, monitoring the social media sphere for commentary on the event provides an immediate snapshot of how things are going. There are many tools to assist with this process, most notably the free and powerful ThinkUp app.
Example: During President Obama’s State of the Union address, the White House monitored and reacted to the conversation occurring on social media platforms. They weren’t waiting until the speech was done and have the media begin it’s ‘interpretation’ process, they started the spin process after the first few sentence’s from the President’s mouth.
One of the key elements all of these ways to use social media to make your business more agile is the need to have a well developed social media environment to access. Utilizing social media means developing and maintaining a social media presence, building followers, developing relationships, and earning trust and respect. It isn’t an overnight phenomenon. It takes time and commitment, which pays off quickly.
image used under Creative Commons license.