Renee Ballard

Why small business has the edge with social media

Many moons ago, when I worked in corporate comms in big businesses, there was a chasm between how we wanted to sound on social media and how comfortable senior management were with that. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and no doubt, the big bosses had the company’s best interests at heart with their extreme caution when it came to social media. But sometimes this heart-felt intention ended up stifling quick responses and sounding like a school principal at valedictory.

Taking a whole day to respond to a tweet and then using stuffy language like ‘we are proud/thrilled/concerned/exulted…’ goes against all that is fun about social media.

Of course, I know there are some big businesses that do social media superbly, and I love them for it – remember the Oreo’s 2013 campaign where they responded in seconds during the Super Bowl black out that you could still dunk in the dark? Brilliant. But they had a dedicated team to social media for those 12 months and on the day of the Super Bowl, they had a graphic designer, brand manager, comms manager and social media manager all in one room, at the ready waiting to pounce. It goes to show how much work it takes for a big business to respond in real time, quickly and en pointe.

Small business on the other hand is perfectly positioned to react quickly when something pops up online. There isn’t a series of approvals they need to go through because there’s usually only a party-of-one the boss needs to confer with – themselves! This kind of agility means small businesses can jump right into conversations without a backward glance to a panel/board/barrier of middle and senior managers all advising the best way to respond. And without being bound by the shackles of fear and responsibility, they can answer in human-like-speak!

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