It’s great to be first out of the gate. The returns are highest, and the competition, it would seem, is as far away from you as it ever will be. Double down, and put out more content, right? Extend your lead, and make the other companies in your space drool over your social media marketing prowess!
I know; I know. When I put it like that, it’s pretty hard to resist. Vanquishing your competitors in the blogosphere sure beats the hell out of merely winning. You’ll be surprised to know, however, that doing this can lead to internal problems for corporate bloggers.
As usual, I speak from painful experience. I’d post pictures of the scars, but the SocialTimes editorial team has limits …
The problem is pretty simple. You launch a corporate blog. It rocks. Your competitors get jealous. They also get scared, figuring, “We could never pull this off.” So, they don’t try. Months pass. Your metrics get steadily – or profoundly – better, making it easy for you to show you’re delivering real marketing value for your company. Meanwhile, your competitors are paralyzed: they can’t get out of the gate.
Score! You have the sort of competitive advantage most marketing departments wouldn’t believe is even possible.
Even though you’re putting up great numbers, some killjoy is bound to ask, “Why hasn’t anyone else done this?” Objective measures become irrelevant, as this person (probably your boss’s boss or higher) wonders why the Joneses aren’t keeping up with you. And, it’s a fair question … which should be addressed with your corporate bog’s performance against the objectives you (should have) established at the beginning of the social media marketing initiative (hint, hint). Often, unfortunately, this won’t matter. The fear of failure (or at least embarrassment) runs too deep.
Be ready for this from the start. When you pitch your corporate blog (especially in the B2B space), coach your executives on the competitive landscape. Your own company is the best benchmark. Let’s say it takes you six months to get your corporate blog off the ground, with all the internal pitching and approvals and such. Well, it’s safe to assume it will take your closest competitors about the same amount of time to do the same … and that’s only after they’ve figured out what you’ve done and poured some analysis into whether they should follow suit. Of course, there’s always the risk that they won’t do so at all – because they think it’s too dangerous or complicated or expensive or difficult. They just might think that your first-mover advantage can’t be overcome.
So, while they yield to your social media superiority (or spend more than a year trying to catch up with you), it looks like nobody in your space is going to follow you into the social media/corporate blogging world, and it gets lonely at the top. It also gets scary. If your blogging dreams are so genius and nobody’s following, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do.
In addition to preparing your company’s executives up front, be ready to update them along the way. Remind them that chasing your company into the social media sphere takes time and money … and that they maybe too frightened that they’ve already lost the battle. Only then does it make sense to celebrate progress against your objectives.
Doing too well can make your executives nervous – you have more at risk than mere failure. And, if you’re successful corporate is killed for the wrong reasons, you lose not just our investment in the marketing blog but the competitive advantage you’ve secured. Protect your company and your blog. Sometimes, the Joneses have no choice but to eat your dust.