Whether it’s a company, organization or non-profit, it seems everyone is getting into social media. To not be on Twitter or have a Facebook Page is now almost as strange as not having a Web site. It’s part of doing business, driven by the fact the barriers to entry are low because the services are free and user-friendly.
But what happens when everyone’s doing social media? What happens when being on social media is no longer a way to differentiate your business or establish a competitive edge? When social media becomes ubiquitous as a way to do business, then what happens?
Perhaps the biggest issue – and the one that will separate the cream from the milk – will be content. It’s easy to set up a Facebook Page or Twitter account, it’s another thing entirely to create content that engages, entertains and educate.
Starbucks, for example, has 23 million fans of its Facebook Page because it is a popular consumer-facing brand that has embraced social media and integrated it into its communications and marketing efforts.
At the same time, Starbucks generates a tremendous amount of content to drive social media – polls, contests, giveaways, etc. This activity has let Starbucks maintain its early-mover advantage and continued to drive its competitive edge. For rivals, it must be a daunting task to go head-to-head with Starbucks within the social media realm.
The challenge facing companies looking to carve out a social media edge when everyone is using social media. It’s not enough anymore to be using social media; that’s just the price of admission. As social media becomes an integral part of company’s communication, marketing and sales activities, the stakes and demands to use social media as a competitive weapon are getting higher.
Content will become even more important. It will require companies to be even more diligent, committed, creative and engaging. The resources to make this happen will increase as well, forcing companies to hire more people to operate their social media efforts, or find other ways such as outsourcing to fill the gaps.
In many ways, social media has reached an interesting fork in the road. So far, it has mostly been a matter of making sure you were on the road as opposed to what you did or how you drove. Now, the road will become more challenging to navigate and being successful will require more work, resources and a dose of luck.
The companies that embrace the challenge will be able to rise above the crowd but the competitive landscape means they have to stay committed and focused.
For more thoughts about what companies need to think about, check out this post from Bazaarblog, which features thoughts from several social media thought leaders.