Who’s Watching Now?

Social media doesn’t close at 5pm. Or take weekends off. Or go on vacation.

The Chick-fil-A Chicken WaveI’ve been watching today’s very successful Labor Day-only Chick-Fil-A promotion. If you wear any sort of sports team shirt or hat to a Chick-Fil-A today, you get a free sandwich, driving awareness of the company’s Chicken Wave fan group and contest.

“Chick-Fil-A” has been a trending topic on Twitter all day, and tweets about the promotion are rolling in at ~60 per minute.

Of course, Chick-Fil-A planned this promotion for Labor Day. I suppose you could argue the merits of that decision either way, but the fact that a LOT of people are talking about the same thing on a national holiday is the key takeaway here.

You Won’t Know What Hit You

Is your office open on Labor Day? Is your marketing team monitoring Twitter while away at the lake? Is your agency watching your Facebook fan page while camping?

Sure, your fans could be advocating vociferously for your brand while you’re offline. Or, a disgruntled customer could be brand-jacking you with a YouTube video while you’re covered in sunscreen.

Will today be the day that a social media crisis erupts for your brand? I doubt it. But what if it is? One of the hallmarks of a crisis is that you didn’t see it coming. And “the fog of social media” is getting steadily thicker.

Nights & Weekends?

If your company doesn’t generate a lot of social media chatter, perhaps this isn’t an issue yet. But, if you’re any sort of known consumer brand, or restaurant, or tourist attraction, is it time to consider assigning social media monitoring tasks on nights and weekends?

Google Alerts seems to be getting slower and less relevant, so that’s not the answer. As Twitter is the de facto real-time search engine (although I’d ultimately bet on Facebook), being able to monitor AND react to Twitter brush fires is critical, and it’s not a 9-5 gig.

Just as companies have increasingly moved to round-the-clock customer service call centers, perhaps one or two of those folks should be drafted to spy on Twitter during their shifts? Incidentally, this creates yet another tie between marketing and customer service, which is an increasingly important linkage as customer support and satisfaction impact brand perception more directly than ever before – thanks to social media.

Agencies Take Note

If you work for a public relations firm, interactive agency, or any other sort of marketing company, this question about who is watching social media when the lights are out is even more critical.

If you’re being paid to monitor social media on behalf of your clients, using Radian6 or Collective Intellect or Spiral 16 or some other system, how are you going to explain it when a crisis started brewing on the weekend, or while your team was sleeping?

Should agencies hire one person to monitor on weeknights, and another person to monitor weekends? Should agencies band together and form a collective to rotate and share off-hours monitoring responsibilities, like on-call physicians?

What do you think?

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