I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of stories this past week on the case of the missing cat: The ‘Milwaukee Lion’ phenomenon. This mysterious and elusive mountain lion has dominated local media, as well social media. The hashtag #MKElion has been trending on Twitter. So it shouldn’t be a big surprise that the Lion is even detailing its adventures throughout Milwaukee on its own Twitter account — @milwaukee_lion.

Milwaukee Lion Twitter
As someone who spends a lot of time on social media, I thought I would examine this popular account to show B2B marketers just how important timing and social trending is.

Last Tuesday, at 4 p.m., the Milwaukee Lion had more than 400 followers, less than a week later — 2,196 followers. Of course we wanted to get in on the fun too when we first saw this trending account. What did we do? We created our own account to help us prove a social media point, and the Milwaukee Cougar was born.

The Milwaukee Lion account lacked a clear social media strategy. The owner wasn’t using optimized hashtags, and punctuation (yes, important even on Twitter), was far from correct. Additionally, I thought the Tweets were rather bland and simply lacked entertainment value — a very important element, especially considering the nature of this event.

Milwaukee_Lion_Twitter_Account Cougar

We decided to use a sound social media strategy to gain followers on our newly created Milwaukee Cougar account.

First: News stories were reporting it was more than likely a mountain lion or cougar as the culprit — not an actual African lion escaped from the Milwaukee Zoo, or worse, an illegal exotic animal collector… *shudders*

Second: We wanted to tell the truth, while focusing on fun and entertainment value as well. So, the @MilwaukeeCougar took the initiative to reach out to followers who were using the #MKElion hashtag by replying to their Tweets. To create engagement, we tagged local Milwaukee businesses relevant to the topic (ex: Carnevor Restaurant).

Yet, here’s the real point: Sure we had likes, a few retweets and replies, but even our fine-tuned strategy wasn’t really working. The Milwaukee Cougar posted more thought-out tweets, SEO enhanced hashtags and used correct grammar, but it really didn’t matter.

Why?

Because the Milwaukee Lion was first. The presence of this account overtook anything we tried to replicate. It didn’t matter how entertaining our content was or that our social media strategy was correct. They were there first.

As marketers, the point we want to make to those in B2B business — or any other sector — you have to be there first. You can have all the right tactics, strategy and wit, but in the end it may not even matter. It’s an uphill battle to spread your message along the appropriate social channels, no matter what you’re doing, but there is simply no replacement for the right timing.

Now, we aren’t giving up on @MilwaukeeCougar — rest assured, we will continue working with this account. But if we had been there first…

There are still numerous opportunities for B2B presences on social media channels. If your competitors aren’t using good social media strategy, beat them to the punch. If they are — use analytics and other social research to determine their strategy and find creative ways to improve upon it. Producing consistent and quality content can eventually help you to overtake your competition even if you are a bit later to the game. Keep in mind that no matter what, timing is crucial.