On Twitter or Facebook, conversations usually happen in small clusters. I’ll respond to what someone else has written or they’ll respond to me and the conversation continues. There’s increased likelihood that others will chime in if the conversation is on Facebook, but it also happens frequently enough on Twitter among friends. The important takeaway for businesses is that the conversation groups are small, so you have to think small.
Brian Sheehan writes as much on AdAge in his article, Why Big Brands Are Dominating Social Media, “the emergence of the web, and especially social marketing, now means the highway to success now has many more ‘on ramps’ for smaller companies. So why is it, then, when we look at some of the most effective forms of social marketing, big marketers are vastly out-performing smaller ones?”
It’s an important question because on Facebook and Twitter everyone has an equal footing. Everyone can drive on the “highway”, as Sheehan calls it, because of these on ramps. To take the analogy a step further, it’s important for companies to not just get on the freeway but to actually drive. If a company has a presence on Twitter, Facebook or other social networks, but isn’t actively updating then it’s about as useful as a stranded car blocking the left lane of the highway.
Sheehan points to resources playing a big factor an in an example writes, “Pepsico’s Gatorade has a group of full-time staff who man their “Mission Control” room, monitoring and participating in social media 24 hours a day. Smaller brands may not be able to afford that.”
With varying sizes of companies come varying levels of expectations. If I’m looking for a response from a major corporation, I’ll expect quicker than if I was hoping for a response from a city shop. I think most people can understand that the timing will be different, but they would like to actually get a response.
One way to overcome the resource gap is through creativity. “Big marketers may have access to more creative talent, but small brands need to demand from themselves a higher level of creativity,” writes Sheehan. “Small companies are known for their entrepreneurialism and imagination.”
He’s right. When one customer comes to a mega-corporation with one question, they’ll get one answer. That conversation is just as small as the one I have with friends, but it’s not being overlooked as insignificant because small conversations add to create a level of dominance in the social media field.
An effective social media strategy will be one that incorporates large, creative ideas into influential posts that can be shared quickly in small conversations.