I opened up my Feedly this morning (which, by the way, turns my blog roll into my morning/mid day/evening paper. I love it!) and began reading “Social Media Mavens – An Interview with Citi’s Terry O’Neil“. I haven’t gotten past the first sentence yet.
One of the elements of social media that’s been really exciting to watch is how large corporations are experimenting with these tools and sites as a way to better connect with and understand their customers.
Stop right there. One of these things is not like the other… one of these things just doesn’t belong. Can you guess which? Look closely. The words ‘large corporation’ and ‘experimenting’ are used in the same sentence. To me, this is new. Sure, companies experiment all the time. But it’s called R&D, and it’s usually behind closed doors. Now, there’s a large company experimenting in the public eye. That used to be one of the advantages of being small. That’s why social media and internet related tools have been so great for small businesses to take advantage of. They were small enough to be nimble and make quick decisions and changes to keep pace. The big guys had all of these approvals to go through and were (and granted, some still are) weary about what such experiments would do to the reputation and brand they’ve spent so long building.
Now I read about a large company that’s open to experimenting. It’s another way for a big company to seem small. There’s so much talk about putting a human touch to the corporate image, and all of the advantages and disadvantages to that. I’ve never seen a company that’s gone big decide they didn’t like it and revert back to being small. I’ve seen and heard of individuals that have sold the company because they preferred to not be a part of going big, or companies that have opted to remain small because it gave them advantages over their bigger competitors, but never a company that has been willing, or able for that matter, to retrace their steps and voluntarily downsize to what they once were. Today, this is possible (while remaining big). Big companies, although they are big, can still seem small. They can have that mom and pop feel and still have the deep pockets necessary to go after the big markets.
It’s an interesting time. I’m excited to see what else evolves with time. We’re certainly only on the cusp of wherever the internet, social tools, individuals, businesses, etc. are going to take us.