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Food & drink companies should engage more with social media

When it comes to social media, many large companies seem to mirror the paranoia and ‘lack of control’ large countries face.

We are observing (or actively taking part in) a conflict of interests when it comes to freedom of speech. On the one hand, we don’t want to be spied on by those people we elect to governmental positions, whichever country we live in. On the other hand, how far-reaching does national security need to be in order to keep us safe? And is being safe at the expense of an invasion of our privacy a good compromise?

Let’s look at this from a corporate angle. I hear stories of ‘closed down’ communications teams at food and drink companies that find it difficult to implement social media because the powers-that-be are terrified of it. Some are terrified of change. Some are terrified of feeling out of control. Some are perhaps just ticking a box because they think they ought to be doing it, but they’re not sure how, and they’re terrified of having to place their trust in someone else. I suspect some of the fear is down to senior managers not being willing to reveal their ignorance. There are egos at stake, after all.

So, why not treat social media as a good thing instead of an evil thing that needs to be micro-managed. It isn’t all about Twitter. Social media engagement is complex and exciting, and you can make it work for you in many different ways.

Look around you. Your competitors (including many startups in your sector) are getting to grips with the digital age much faster than you are, and part of the reason is that they see it as a positive thing; a tool for the greater good. They have changed their marketing strategy to make it easier to adopt the many skills it takes to make it work properly, and they are reaping business benefits simply by being savvy about 21st century communications tools.

If you’re locked down for security reasons, it’s understandable that your communications strategy is hard to change. Yet, operating under the umbrella of mistrust, or letting your IT department dictate your marketing strategy, is not going to look after the bottom line over the next five years.

Get some good people in. Let them run with their ideas without hindrance. Trust that they’re working at your company to make something positive happen.