Carefully Crafted on July 16

A Company Culture Lesson from Old Spice Social Media

Years from now, this week’s Old Spice social media campaign will still be used as case study. Aside from the obvious lessons about social media engagement, there’s another equally important lesson that we shouldn’t lose sight of: A company’s culture and its willingness to take calculated risks will shape its social media engagement — and success.

Recently, I’ve had interesting, ongoing conversations with a number of friends who work for PR/marketing/advertising agencies about the cultural collisions between social media and “traditional” communication. Lots of complaints about long approval processes. For example, it takes days just to get a blog post approved. All tweets need to be scripted and approved by the agency powers that be. How is that engaging, timely or relevant?

Companies need to put their best foot forward online. That makes sense. But, how can companies do this and still be social, not scripted? Don’t forget, we live in an age where quickness equals relevancy.

If Old Spice can pump out a couple hundred videos in just two days, should it really take that long (or longer) for a smaller company to churn out one blog post? Or, one Facebook update? Or a few tweets? This Old Spice campaign never would have worked if management had to approve every single video created, tweet sent or Facebook update posted.

So, what’s a company to do? 3 tips to get started:

  1. Hire the right employees. If someone will be representing your brand in social media, make sure that person possesses the right mix of skills. Just because they’re good at traditional PR, doesn’t mean they’ll excel in this new landscape. Likewise, just because they write a popular personal blog doesn’t mean they can effectively manage social media to achieve business-driven goals.
  2. Train your employees. Social media is constantly evolving. Help your employees understand the goals, their role, how you’ll measure success, and how to do their jobs well. Encourage them to read thought-leader blogs, attend webinars or conferences, and network with other social media-types. Provide opportunities to test new tools. Reward out-of-the-box thinking. Position them for success. Don’t just throw them into the deep end and cross your fingers.
  3. Create social media guidelines. Establish guidelines to create some boundaries for appropriate and inappropriate behavior and content. If employees get into a “gray” area, they need to understand who to ask. But, if they’re within those boundaries, don’t be a bottleneck. Make sure these guidelines also articulate the approval process, what to do if/when a crisis starts to peculate, and how to live up to the company’s brand standards.

What would you add to this list? How has social media changed your corporate culture? What is your company’s social media approval process? Is it helping or hindering your engagement and effectiveness?


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  1. […] Heather Whaling’s a company culture lesson from Old Spice social media […]

  2. […] to give the Old Spice marketing team the freedom to conduct the campaign as they saw fit (see PRtini’s post for more on that), I think there’s another reason that was equally […]

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