Big brands are dominating social media even though smaller companies are more nimble. Why is that? There are several reasons. One reason is resources. Big brands have the resource to put a 20-person team to man a social media push and engage in the dialog 24-7. Most smaller companies don’t have that luxury. Another reason is big brands can experiment and try a lot of things all at once, fully funded, and can see what works and doesn’t work in a short amount of time. Then, they can take the best approaches and pour all of their resources into those areas. Again, smaller companies can’t afford to fund full scale efforts on multiple fronts. There are smaller brands who have been able to “go viral” and capitalize on the social media effect, but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. In the beginning, social media was seen as a way smaller companies can level the playing field because of the low cost of entry, ease and simplicity because of advanced technology, and even free tools from giants like Google and WordPress.
So why hasn’t small business dominated the social media battleground? In one word, imagination. Too many smaller brands are not as strategically imaginative or creative as larger brands. This is due to a couple of reasons. One is larger brands leverage advertising agencies more often. One of the strengths of advertising agencies is creativity. They can look at a business problem or objective in a unique and fresh way. Also just the shear number of creative minds that can be harness at an advertising agency can exponentially benefit clients. Too many smaller businesses try to do things on their own to “save money” or think they can do it better. Thus far, that isn’t panning out to be true. The successful do-it-your-selfers are an exception rather than the rule. Also, is it really saving money if your own efforts aren’t paying off when you could have invested in hiring a top-notch creative company that would have helped you accomplish your marketing objectives? Because social media is free or cheap, most smaller companies can afford to invest in working with an advertising agency. It comes down to do what you do best and hire other pros to give you their best on your behalf. You do that with lawyers, accountants, etc. Marketing is no different.
In today’s marketplace, creativity is the currency that wins. Getting the best creative minds you can afford will deliver more dividends than trying to penny-pinch and do it yourself. Yes, some can do a great job themselves, but from what I’ve seen over my 26 year career, the vast majority are not very imaginative. Too many are follower or take a me-too approach. They see that a big brand is successful with a particular approach and then try to copy it. Ultimately, you lose because you’re playing someone else’s game that they made and it’s very difficult to beat someone at their own game they’ve created.
Whether you do it yourself or hire an advertising agency, creativity is the currency in today’s digital world as well as the physical world. Take an honest assessment of your company’s capabilities. If high-level creative isn’t something you excel at, then your best investment of money and time would be better spent with those who live off of their imagination. Then, and only then, can a smaller company level the marketing playing field with the big brands.