There’s a lot of talk about first-mover advantage among social media pioneers. But sometimes it’s better to take your time, according to the folks at Vestas, the big Danish wind energy company.
Even though a majority of its employees already were quite active on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, Vestas did not see any need to rush into social media. The company stuck to its knitting, building more of the 43,000 turbines it has installed for customers in 66 countries across six continents, while it studied this new thing called social media.
The company’s group communications department started by monitoring social media sites to find out what people around the world were saying about Vestas. They didn’t want to jump in too soon with nothing to say.
“We approached it with curious caution and slowly started to build a presence, says Kasper D. Borch, Web Editor of Vestas.com. “If you engage in social media activity, you need to have some interesting and substantial content for the other users. Done wrong, social media can backfire and create bad will and angry users instead.”
Slowly, Borch and his team turned from passively listening to actively engaging in dialogues and conversations. While he admits that “we are only at the very beginning,” Borch likes to point out that more than 5,000 people have hit ‘Like’ on its Facebook page, it has more than 4,000 followers on Twitter and the videos that Vestas has uploaded to YouTube have been viewed more than 140,000 times by people from all over the world.
Being active in social media has begun to pay off for the communications team. Sky News reached out to Vestas via Twitter about a burning turbine in Scotland. Borch was surprised the news outlet relied on social media rather than the phone or email, but he and his team were prepared to respond quickly.
As it gets more experience, Vestas’s social media efforts are expanding. While most of its Facebook and Twitter posts are rather dry press releases about new sales or installations, the company’s marketing team has been promoting contests such as the Global Wind Day photo competition from related organizations to encourage more interest in wind energy.
Borch just has one simple piece of advice for anyone who wants to participate in the online conversations, regardless of topic: “Listen!” he says. “And always be humble and polite when asking or answering questions.”
Are you feeling pressured to keep up with social media first-movers? Or are you taking the time to listen before jumping in?