Black Swan Blindness & Social Media
Are you suffering from Black Swan Blindness? Sadly, those most affected are the least likely to recognize the signs and symptoms especially when it comes to tracking their social media success and strategy outcomes. As a leading social media management firm, we’ve seen our share of clients suffering from Black Swan Blindness so today, we are going to talk about this common problem, share a few insights into how to help and (most importantly) provide much needed guidance about correcting the problem before it does damage to your social media strategy.
Defining Black Swan Blindness
If you have never heard of Black Swan Blindness…well, don’t worry – you are not alone. It’s a rather elusive concept originated by Bent Flyvbjerg at the University of Oxford. It builds upon the Black Swan Theory originally proposed by Taleb who explained how rare events – like the existence of the once rare and highly debated Black Swan – tend to wreck havoc on future forecasts when they appear. The Black Swan Blindness takes this theory one step farther and explains the tendency of managers, business owners and even regular consumers to severely under-estimate the impact and/or likelihood of rare or outlying events. These rare events or Black Swans are so important but also so rare, that people literally don’t engage in much planning or preparation…even if the event would be catastrophic when it does finally happen.
Examples of Black Swan Blindness
To get a greater understanding of Black Swan Blindness, one need only look around at the economy; just a few years ago common wisdom held that real estate never goes down in value…and indeed, it had a tremendous winning streak! Yes, it may occasionally go down in a local market but over time, even those corrections were fairly limited and self contained. In the past 80 years, real estate had never experienced a nationwide full decline of any serious consequence. Until it did. Then common wisdom went right out the window in the wake of a full-fledged Black Swan event. But why did the experts (much less millions of average homeowners and investors) fail to recognize the danger? For the same reason people fail to recognize many serious hazards: Black Swan Blindness. The rarity of a significant downturn blinded them to the harsh realities; realities that in retrospect make many big bank lending practices look like little more than outright gambling. Of course hindsight is always 20-20 but even in the midst of the most extreme circumstances there are a few people able and willing to send out a warning voice to those that care to listen. Today, we are issuing such a warning voice because there are potentially serious – albeit rare – events capable of seriously impacting your social media strategy without proper planning and preparation.
Social Media Black Swan Threats
There are many possible Black Swan Threats small business owners and social media management firms should be aware of but the following represent some of the most imminent and potentially devastating concerns:
1. Concentration – Concentrating all of you social media marketing into one or two sites is rapidly becoming a growing concern. It goes without saying that Facebook is a ‘must have’ destination but that doesn’t mean you can ignore other social media sites. Quite the contrary! By expanding your presence across a variety of social sites, it’s possible to tap into new clients as well as spread the risk associated with changing influence, new algorithms or other…as of yet…unrecognized threats.
2. Lack of Concentration – While it may sound contradictory given item #1 above, lack of concentration also is a major threat. The problem is especially common among small DIY types who attempt to be all things to all people but fail to make a true impact everywhere. Time and lack of cohesive social media strategy either results in endless redundancy or abject failure. It’s one reason more small business concerns than ever are outsourcing their social media marketing and management solutions.
3. Mobile – Don’t get us wrong…as a social media management agency, we absolutely adore mobile and recognize it as one of the fastest growing segments of social media BUT, there is a risk which must be addressed. Late entry into any market, especially one experiencing such rapid growth, is a problem of its very own. But early entry before one is fully prepared can also be fraught with fears and downright ugly outcomes. The key is to work with a reputable vendor able and willing to do what it takes from a technology and strategic perspective.
4. Failure to Secure Unique Content. The IP or Intellectual Property debate continues to escalate both domestically and internationally. Although advocates of a free and open Internet have fought back some of the most restrictive covenants and proposals to date, experts agree it is merely a matter of time before the technology and legal environment catch up with current trends. Those that are not building a collection of their very own unique content will face an uphill battle once the change begins in earnest. How important is this trend? Very! Nearly all big business concerns are actively and aggressively building their own library of original content, photo’s and other IP.
5. Failure to Expand Beyond Marketing. Last but not least, the failure to expand beyond marketing is the last major social media risk. What began as a great tool has rapidly expanded to include all types of client communications and outreach; activities which are increasingly expected/demanded by clients. Failure to use social media to its full potential is rapidly becoming a very real hazard as consumers are turning to social media for more than mere marketing.