If you truly want to stand out and impact your business, you must be willing to take risks with your social media marketing- risks such as empowering your social media team with the ability to make timely updates and giving them the freedom to push the needle with content.

A great example of this came during the past presidential race. In the first debate, Governor Romney caused a stir online with comments about PBS and Big Bird. Big Bird and Sesame Street were trending topics almost immediately.

The next morning, Sesame Workshop released a pretty standard, corporate statement. One you would expect from a non-profit:

"Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, educational organization. We do not comment on campaigns, but we're happy we can all agree that everyone likes Big Bird."

However, that same morning, the marketing team took to Twitter with an edgier response that added humor, and a bit of sarcasm:

The result was a Tweet that was Retweeted over 12,000 times and significantly increased their follower count.

Another example came a few weeks ago during the Super Bowl when brands like Oreo, Tide and Audi had teams ready to make fast, timely posts and received national attention because of it. 

The power went out early in the second half of the game. While the NFL and CBS were scrambling for a backup plan, the folks at Oreo were busy distributing content like this.

Because they were airing a commercial that night, they already had a team in place monitoring their social media networks but that committed attention allowed them to take advantage of this unexpected situation and respond quickly.

Imagine if other brands were prepared to do this as well? Like if Motel 6 responded quickly and played off of their famous tagline, “We’ll leave the light on for you”. In their case, internet users and meme generators beat them to the punch and they were left to repost the materials of others in the days following the big game.

In the world of social media marketing, you never know when a great opportunity will present itself. This form of communication is unlike any other and it requires a unique approach and mindset. While a general content plan creates a solid foundation, that scheduled content must be supplemented with real-time, spur of the moment communications if you really want to give your brand a boost.

In order to do this, you must allow your team the freedom to post timely content. That is a risk in and of itself since a small slip up can cause a slew of negative attention (see KitchenAid’s awful mistake during the presidential debates or this congressman’s embarrassing tweet). Although you run the risk of a misstep, you must empower your social media team with the trust and flexibility needed to be proactive. Slowing down the approval process may hinder your chances of capitalizing on great opportunities.

Secondly, you must be willing to take occasional risks with your content. This can be a cultural shift for many organizations. The organizations that are not willing to take risks will have difficulty standing out, building an audience and attracting media attention. Risky content means something different to every industry and organization. Develop a clear picture of any current boundaries and try to push them every so often.

Overall, a social media presence can be built in many ways. Taking risks is only one element of an effective strategy but it’s an element that should not be overlooked.

Bret Ludlow

About Bret Ludlow

Bret Ludlow is the Director of Digital Marketing at Liquid. He oversees the strategic direction of the Digital Marketing Department focusing on growth strategies, innovation and solution development. Bret received his degree from the Fox School of Business at Temple University. He plays an active role in the Lehigh Valley Community as the Immediate Past President of the Young Professionals Council for the Chamber of Commerce. 

Published Feb 04, 2013