A while back, I interviewed for a job as a Director of Social Media for a Boston-based consumer brand. In my meeting with the CEO, he said (I’m paraphrasing despite the quotation marks):
“I don’t want to wait for quality. Quality comes second to speed. Let’s get it done and get it out there. We can fix it later.”
I didn’t take that job.
That’s because I believe that producing quality content costs time, resources and budget. This is true in every aspect of business, but for some reason often doesn’t extend to social media.
This doesn’t mean companies need to break the bank, but it does mean that businesses should be willing to invest in their new communication channels. Winging it should not be a strategy worth considering, yet social media (probably because most of the platforms are free) seems to bring out improvisational tendencies in marketers and communicators.
Speed – not quality – becomes the order of the day.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard corporate executives say variations of the following:
- “Why does producing this video cost so much? I can just take our Flip video recorder into the CEO’s office and record him behind his desk talking about the topics we need. He doesn’t need lighting, scripting or any editing. He can do it in one take!”
- “I don’t think we need to update the blog every week. Why don’t we just link to news articles or another blog posts and jot down a few paragraphs about our take on them. That should only take a few minutes to produce.”
- “We can just use Twitter to push out the headlines of our press releases. How hard is that?”
Here are the responses to those statements and questions:
- Most people don’t watch an unedited, talking head video of a CEO droning on for 4-5 minutes about his company’s latest product or service.
- To capture audience, a blog needs to drive ideas by being interesting, presenting cool ideas and producing new and compelling content. Blogs that only link to other content go by the names of Spam Blogs and Link Farms.
- Pushing headlines on Twitter is possible – and some companies do it. But few people follow those companies and using Twitter in that limited capacity is not using it to its greatest potential.
Would a company ever produce a TV commercial in one take? And without a creative concept or a script? Would a company ever write one draft of a press release and then quickly fire it off on Business Wire? Would a company ever design a new logo by winging it during a brainstorm session?
No. Of course not. So why do companies lose all sense of perspective when it comes to producing content for social media?
It might be due of the advice and practices of some social media experts.
Here’s blogger C.C. Chapman’s summary of his recent podcast called “Don’t Wait for Perfection”:
“Another trend that I’ve been noticing lately is that many people are waiting for things to be perfect before pushing forward. This might be waiting for the perfectly designed website or fine tuning an article until it is perfect in the author’s opinion. You need to STOP IT!!!”
Try convincing your boss that you don’t have time to strive for perfection on any other project and see what happens.
Then there are popular social media mavens like Chris Brogan and Robert Scoble using the Flip phone video style. Chris Brogan is known for turning around his video recorder and making quick comments and insights with no production and few edits. Scoble made a name for himself producing low-cost, long-form video interviews of start-up executives and developers.
However, Chris started his videos after he became an established brand – and already had a passionate, devoted audience. He’s a personality. Scoble’s interviews – while some will argue are boring – get attention because of his quirky and erratic interview style (think stream of consciousness meets cyber geek).
But most people – and I’d argue almost all companies – can’t get away with this type of production quality. Nor should they.
Companies should strive for creating high quality content on all social media channels. They need to approach social media like they would any marketing or communications endeavor – with a firm understanding of the time, resources and cost of doing a good job.
I’m interested in hearing your perspective on this.
C.C. Chapman’s post “Don’t Wait for Perfection”