Start-ups are winners at social media

…or alternatively I could have written Incumbents are doomed to fail at social media.

At The Really Realtime Disruptive Media Conference in October 2009, Lesley Pennington, CEO and founder of Bemz, gave a presentation explaining how, thanks to social media, she had suceeded in creating a successful and profitable company.

As an Internet start-up, Bemz was at an instant advantage over older, incumbent organisations. There were starting with a clean slate. No baggage. No existing corporate culture. No massive shift in existing behaviour needed. No explaining “complicated” (read that as “everyday”) web concepts to C-suite executives who forged their careers before the Internet became mainstream.

This is why Internet start-ups & small businesses can leap-frog incumbants with their web-presences.

Unfortunately for old and established companies, I fear the only hope is for a generation shift – to wait (or to push) for the non-web-enabled executives to be replaced by their (younger) web-enabled equivalents. (Lisa Welchman discusses the C-Suite problem in great detail in No Chief Web Officer Required.)

By and large, the older executives are old dogs who are not going to learn new tricks. To them, both web strategy and web presence will remain a tactic, a side issue, rather than a strategy

They will not be able to convert their organisations into fully web-enabled enterprises with all the benefits it brings. That task, for this generation at least, is left to the start-ups and small businesses such as Lesley Pennington’s Bemz.