Social Media is Not Scalable. Yes, I Said It.

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social media is not scalableAfter nearly nine years in the social space, through all of the changes, adoptions, challenges and transformations, I’ve survived it all and lived to tell you that social media is not scalable.

You can scale a lot of things:

  • Repetitive activities
  • Simple tactics
  • Uncomplicated transactions

Scaling up requires organizational prowess, bigger budgets and changes in technology. You can buy audiences and make your content reach almost everyone in the world who is connected to the Internet.

What you can’t scale is conversation…and social media is thousands of conversations.

This fact leads us to the other social media related things you can’t scale:

  • Original, high-quality content.
  • Relationship building.
  • Social customer service.

The things that make you great are NOT scalable.

Just look around you. Everyone and their brother is touting social media as THE place you have to be. Why? Because it’s a buzzword and that means bankable coin.

Unfortunately, it’s brought an influx of dubious products, the likes of which seem to have no limit. It’s not very hard to find a vendor to “do social media” for you at a bargain price of $500/month or less. If that’s your idea of social media, then save your money.

Social media is not scalable.

A true social media success story for any company requires setting up systems that keep the “human factor” in the equation.

When Larry Page and Sergey Brin first started Google after moving out of their dorm room at Stanford, they had one philosophy — put smart, talented, passionate people in a room together, and something great is bound to happen.

Realistically speaking, business growth and performance require scaling up. The key is to think big and act bold.

Scaling up must be people and community focused.

Organizations are made up of people, inside and outside the org-chart. Regardless of imposed structure, these people work in communities and ultimately they contribute according to the social rules they have established. Therefore, every growth plan regardless of its logical excellence relies on engagement, support, and contribution, or it will fail.

What’s a company to do then when it wants to scale but also maintain closer interactions with its customers?

If you’re looking for scalable, repeatable and a current social media curriculum to support long-term social business goals, it doesn’t get more scalable than employee advocacy.

I’ve witnessed employee advocacy teams that share content (tweets, Instagram, Facebook) through their own lens of the world and often give “expert” advice on a myriad of customer questions. This practice lets customers see all the facets of a company’s culture and “peek behind the curtain,” which advances trust.

Employee advocacy DOES scale social media.

Your team could mean a handful of employees or even your entire organization. The program requires planning, guidance and tweaks to include content creation in their job duties and compensation.

There are usually several questions that follow the introduction of this idea:

  • How did you gain legal and executive approval to do this?
  • How can you trust your employees to not share something offensive or embarrassing?
  • How do you mitigate risk?
  • How do you “keep tabs” on what they’re doing?

These questions frequently come up no matter where or to whom I’m talking to. The answer is straight forward: Hire good people, train them, and empower them to succeed.

Nothing worthwhile comes easy.

To think big and act bold is courageous. In today’s uncertain market, courage is required.

And if your employees aren’t your biggest advocates, you’ve got much bigger problems than social media.

The more we share, the more we have…
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