By now youve probably heard that the 2012 Summer Olympic Games are underway in London. No doubt youve also heard that NBC has the contract to provide coverage of the Olympics in the U.S. What you may not know is that NBC, in an effort to make its coverage of the games more relevant, launched a social media marketing strategy to keep viewers engaged. That strategy has included a partnership with Twitter and a major presence on Facebook.
Gaining a foothold in the notoriously chaotic world of social media can be difficult, especially for a large company with a very high profile such as NBC. It can be especially daunting when that profile is sure to encourage criticism of everything your company does by somebody somewhere. This isnt unique to NBC. As far as I know, every media entity, including eWEEK gets criticized for something on Twitter for some fault, real or imagined.
But there are companies that embrace the social media and use it as a way to stay in touch with their customers or use it as a vehicle for providing extra services to customers, or in the case of NBC, their viewers. The idea of NBCs plan for the social media was to provide a value-add, so that viewers of its Olympics could share in the conversation. The company is doing this on Twitter and Facebook, and in many ways, its working, but not necessarily in ways that NBC expected and not in ways its happy about.
Some companies, for example, use social media as an alternate channel for customer service. When I got on Twitter a year or two ago to complain that one of the DC areas premier burger places, BGR The Burger Joint seemed incapable of cooking a medium-rare burger, I was immediately contacted by the founder of the company, Mark Bucher (@BGRBurgerJoint) who offered to make it right. Ive had the same thing happen from time to time with other companies.
Such a social media policy makes sense. You get immediate feedback from customers, you can correct problems just as quickly and in the process youll almost certainly get positive Tweets (or Facebook entries) in return. In the long run, everyone feels good and in many cases the company stacks up a supply of good will.
But what a social media policy cant do is control the social media. Unfortunately, NBC, while attempting to do the right thing, has managed to bring a huge amount of ire on itself and on the Olympics. To some extent this is to be expected.