Scaling Social Media

May 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

4.30.12  During SXSW 2010, Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group discussed a challenge managing social interactions for businesses – scale. At that time, I nodded by head, but I was not entirely on board. Here we are in 2012 and I think those words make more sense to me now.

Going back again, the entire panel Jeremiah was speaking with disagreed. Partly because they were all responsible for running some aspect of social media for their firms and were keeping their heads above water (using some technology and small teams). 2010 was also the time of boundless social optimism and this was basically a negative thought. I mean…how dare we speak badly against the new wave of all consuming communication and change.

What Jeremiah was trying to say (and still says today) is those responsible for managing social interactions will eventually become overwhelmed as adoption and usage of social channels outpaces the ability to keep up. While I think most firms will stay ahead of the curve through technology, better processes, and the inclusion of more front line resources, this last point is where I think the scale issue really comes to light.

As firms look to enable social interactions on the front lines, scale challenges will likely come in the way of:

  • Continuing Education and skills development
  • Technology integration for the platforms being leveraged by front line employees
  • Managing time intensive activities (compliance, social media monitoring, community management, content development, reporting, etc)
  • Change management
  • Data management and modeling
  • Cost (i.e. ratio of social support staff to number of front line employees, maintaining technology to support, etc)

While this list is not complete, these areas will impact social at scale.

If this is a starter list, what else will get in the way of scaling social and transforming social as part of doing business versus an add-on channel? Are there any examples of firms currently scaling really well with social (especially in regulated industries)?

Please let me know any thoughts in this area as I think this is where firms need to spend some focus today.


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