Sorry – it’s been a busy week, but this one was too good to pass up. I got an invitation to internet-eavesdrop on a marketing conference presentation a few weeks ago that quickly devolved into “social media for corporate marketers”. The content wasn’t all that compelling (to be fair the presenters did a great job of re-tooling their session on the fly – clearly scrapping their prepared topics to cope with an audience that was less internet-savy than they’d expected). While most of the content afterwards wasn’t terribly interesting (what is “Twitter”? Should we be on “Twitter”? Why are our competitors on “Twitter”? How is “Twitter” different than “Myspace”… etc) they did do a good job of trying to hammer home the following key points:
- Being a social-media aware company does not mean you have to involve yourself in all aspects of social media.
- If you are going to work in the social media space you need to make sure your organization clearly understands what you are doing and why.
- You can not just pump press-releases out over social media outlets and expect positive results – you have to create compelling content for your target audience
- Badly implementing a social media presence is worse than not having one
A prime example of how points 2 and 4 can backfire is this latest story about how the Associated Press doesn’t seem to understand how it’s own YouTube channel works. I kind-of-sort-of commented on this particular post of Ricky Gervais and Elmo outtakes how bizarre it was that the Associated Press (a company known for sabre-rattling threats to on-line sites like Google (while at the same time accepting money from Google as a news content provider) had, of all things, a YouTube channel.
Clearly I’m not the only one whose head was blown by this dichotomy. The coles-notes version of the story is that Frank Strovel, an employee of Texas country radio station WTNQ ended up in a surreal discussion with the AP after he recieved a cease and desist letter for embedding AP YouTube content on the station’s website. The AP rep seemed flummoxed that such a channel existed, that embedding was clearly allowed and encouraged by the channel (it’s trivial to disable embedding codes with YouTube if the content provider wishes), and even that WTNQ was a AP affiliate to begin with.
Strovel: And weâ€™re an A.P. affiliate for crying out loud! I stumped him on that one. . . . What is really shocking is that they were shocked that theyâ€™ve got a YouTube channel that people are embedding on their Websites. He seemed shocked by that. â€˜Oh, I am going to have to look into thatâ€ is what he told me.
So here we have a textbook example of how not having the whole company in the loop is problematic. While the AP’s social media channel was generating legitimate goodwill (that Elmo/Gervais video was great, and lead to me alone having tonnes of “Wow, the AP’s starting to get the hang of what works on the internet” conversations) – they now have this – a rapidly mounting amount of mainstream press about how they clearly don’t have the foggiest clue what they’re doing. Not to mention slashdot, CNet and of course YouTube itself chiming in. Any building goodwill is forgotten and, again, the AP looks like an anacronysm desperately trying to protect a business model that has been outdated for much of the decade. They would have been better off having done nothing in the first place (not that would have changed the business model reality).
Take a lesson from your mothers people – any job worth doing, has to be done right… otherwise you can come off looking mighty silly. Especially in the social/new media space where reputation is the only currency of any import.