This post is taken from our recent ebook, Social Media Blueprint: A Step-by-Step Plan to Prepare Your Company.
Wholeheartedly embracing social media involves a sea change in an organization. Social media isn’t just a technology that can be bolted onto the traditional way of doing things: it’s an entirely new way of relating and doing business.
Good news — it’s not just your company that’s finding this difficult. The plain truth is that it’s just not easy to adapt to the balance of power shifting to the customer, and that the old way of doing things is rapidly fading away.
Many factors can combine to ensnare your earnest attempts to turn your company into a social enterprise. Here are some of the common ones and helpful responses to quiet the critics.
“Social media is only a passing fad.”
Leadership sees social media as nothing more than the latest short-lived craze; a second dot-com bubble about to burst.
RESPONSE: The numbers speak for themselves:
- Twitter has 140 million active users, who collectively post 340 million tweets every day. [source]
- LinkedIn boasts more than 150 million members, including executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies. [source]
- Facebook has over 483 million daily active users. [source]
- Every second, an hour of video is uploaded to YouTube. During that same second, users will have watched 1,000 hours of video. [source]
The very fact that almost all your friends and family have Facebook accounts is proof social media is long past the early adopter stage.
“We’re in B2B. Our customers don’t buy multi-million dollar systems on Facebook.”
Social media seems like a natural fit for consumer brands. Soft drinks, movies and fashion have broad appeal, sexy campaigns, and attract impulse buyers. But B2B companies sell expensive, complex products with long sales cycles and multiple points of contact. To some, the very idea of using social media in a B2B context is laughable.
RESPONSE: The truth may surprise you. In The B2B Social Media Book, Kipp Bodnar and Jeff Cohen argue that B2B has certain advantages at social media that B2C’s lack. B2B understands their customers better, have deep subject-matter expertise, are used to finding ways to minimize cost per lead, and already nurture relationship-based sales.
(For more on social media for B2B, download our free ebook, Social Media for B2B: It’s Not As Different As You Think.)
“We can’t control what happens in social media.”
Social media is too freewheeling, too messy and too darn unpredictable for many CEOs used to overseeing carefully-crafted press releases and other corporate communications. If they use social media at all, it’s only as a broadcasting platform, never a forum for dialogue.
RESPONSE: Like it or not, the days when your company controlled its brand are over. The Internet has shifted the balance of power to the consumer. You can’t prevent anyone from talking about your brand publicly. You can, however, choose to join the conversation as a respectful partner.
“We’re terrified of precipitating a social media crisis.”
Some companies are terrified of an employee (or even an executive) saying something thoughtless on Twitter and triggering an avalanche of protest. To prevent this, employees are either forbidden from engaging in social media on the company’s behalf, or straight-jacketed with a restrictive social media policy.
RESPONSE: Social media crises happen even to companies who aren’t on social media. Your absence is likely to make the crisis worse. Often, opening up Facebook and Twitter accounts the afternoon of some corporate crisis is too late. You need to be engaging with your community now, building trust and earning advocates for when something goes wrong.
Craft contingency plans for when things go wrong. Sit down with Legal, PR, and other stakeholders and work out how to respond to various disasters that could strike.
Few companies have regretted an open, transparent, and well-planned response to a social media crisis. (Here are 16 best practices to get you started.)
“Social media is a waste of company time.”
Social media, in this view, is seen as a giant temptation to waste hours every day watching cat videos, playing Farmville, and chatting with friends. The simplest way to prevent employees from stealing company time is to forbid any use of social media at the office. The consequences for anyone caught logging into Twitter will be dire.
RESPONSE: If you distrust your employees this much, you have bigger issues than social media adoption. Like the Internet itself, social media is a double-edged sword: both a black hole of wasted time and a massive productivity booster.
Wise companies hire the right people and work hard to keep them motivated. Inviting employees to engage with customers is an incredible way to empower them and get them excited about the contributions they can make to the company.
What other objections have you run into? Any tips to share? Let us know in the comments.