The Vatican recently announced that it was exploring mobile and social media as a way to reach people for World Youth Day. So, if a man wearing a funny-looking pointy hat gets it, what's wrong with these companies: Louis Vuitton, Burger King, Johnson & Johnson, Taco Bell, Delta, etc., and the list goes on.
The Forrester blog came out with a list that shows which companies were punk'd by social media because of their ignorance of the new communication dynamic.
In a previous article on social media, I state: "It will just be much more difficult to lie to consumers since they have the tools and the communication ability to weed them out." And that's why they got punk'd. So what did they do wrong? And what do others companies do wrong when they approach social media?
There are two fundamental structural reasons that hamper current companies: layered vs. matrixed, and campaign vs. strategy.
The most powerful brands are often the ones that get left behind. Why? Because change comes much more slowly to them. Their corporate structures are layered -- a tree structure of employees sitting on top of employees who sit on top of other employees, all in a tree structure of responsibility avoidance. This causes entrenchment and aversion to risk in an effort to reach that next rung. Those companies are glaciers; oil tankers trying a three-point turn; a blind squirrel trying to find a nut.
There are many reasons for that structure, but for a long time it was also the most efficient structure for the media cascade. Old media worked much the same way, rifling down from primary news sources, like a river from a mountain source hitting its tributary. Major broadcast networks and major newspapers dictated what the consumer saw, read, learned. Press releases hit primary news sources and fanned the message out. Everything was nice, neat and tidy.
And then it all started to fall apart, and it's going to get worse. The fracturing of media communication, and many companies' inability to spin their normal message, is causing a rethinking of how all brands will have to communicate with their consumers.
No longer can the marketing, corporate communications and senior leadership of companies remain in layered tree structures when it comes to the way they communicate their brands to the consumer. They must be matrixed, and those matrix hubs must be empowered to react without going up and down trying to force-fit a crafted message. They can keep the rest of their company functioning as is, but if they don't rework the way those groups communicate, they are not only going to be left in the dust, they're going to go out of business.
What they all must realize is that brand control was always an illusion, but now that illusion has been further shattered by the vortex of communication enabled by social media.
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