I first heard of a computer way back in the early 80s. I was a snotty kid happy climbing trees and raising hell. In those days, the highlight of my life used to be reading the latest Nancy Drew book. One day my mother came home with some big news – she had to go to some training program in Mumbai to learn about a new device called ‘computer’ which would replace the typewriter. Little did I know then that this ‘computer’ was going to be a big part of people’s life very soon.
My mom came back with ‘123’ books and stories about this computer that had to be kept in an air conditioned room – only top executives had the luxury of an AC in those days. Then one Saturday, we dressed up to go visit ‘the computer’. We were thrilled to enter the cold room and stared at this white machine with green scrolling text. It was just like a visit to the zoo and the computer seemed to be a new beast.
The computer in my school was kept under lock and key. Even in college, having actual lab time where we could use the computer as we liked was a luxury. Professors used to watch us with hawk’s eyes to make sure that no one messed up with the expensive equipment. People had created a shrine for the computer, and many paid homage by using it as little as possible.
The Long Walk
As common as computers are now – we all know 3 year old kids who can download games even when they cannot read or spell – there are still a lot of people – a LOT of people, who have never touched computers. Language may have been a barrier earlier, but localization and language support is common now. However, people of a certain age or background still feel the computer is something alien that they are better off without. My own dad, and numerous aunts and uncles are proof.
If people can still be averse to something that is 30+ years old, what about something like social media?
Social media became really popular only a few years ago. And there is still a large percent of people out there who refuse to have anything to do with it.
Is there a gene that decides whether we are technophiles or technophobic? Maybe it is just the environment we grew up in. Or maybe some people are just averse to anything new. They could be shy or just afraid of how social media is going to impact them. While adopting or rejecting any new technology is a personal choice, there could be many underlying reasons a person is hesitant to embrace something new.
If you do not use popular social tools like LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook for your business, you are either shy or afraid of social media.
Not having a strong presence on these networks could be crippling your business prospects. But rest assured, you are not the only one who feels so.
Social Media Fears
Are any of these reasons stopping you from using social media for your business?
1. Ignorance – lack of proper knowledge or training
If you’re a business owner trying to build your brand, ignorance is not bliss for you. If your competition is already leveraging social media to promote their products, you cannot stay away claiming ignorance. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to get over this.
You may have to get help or ask for help, however.
2. Resistance to change
This is one of the oldest deterrents of growth. Like it or not, the Internet is a part of our life. With lives getting busier, more and more people are using their smart phones or tablets to look for a dentist or shop for gifts.
This fear can be partially overcome by establishing specific objectives or goals for social media. You can set limits to what you will use, and how much.
3. Resistance to technology
Ignorance could be one reason a person is resistant to technology. Denial is another. Recently I needed to hire a car service. I spoke to one person who was only available on phone and had no website or social media presence. He also told me proudly that he had no time for email. Another person had a website, active Facebook page and also corresponded via email. Guess who got my business?
This is one fear that you will have to overcome if you want to connect with your customers.
4. Fear of the unknown – known evil better than etc.
There are those who refuse to consider new things because X always worked for them. It’s like paying your telecom provider for every out of area call when you can get country wide calling free for a flat rate with a Vonage phone.
You may have built a business using print ads and painted signage or billboards. But you can grow by taking your business online and using social media.
5. Wrong image – frivolous
Many people associate social media with youngsters ranting about something, or posting photos of parties etc. They feel that social media will tarnish their hard earned image or attract the wrong kind of clientele.
This is a very valid fear. It can be overcome by having a social media strategy that integrates with your business and echoes your voice. Social media allows you to project any image you want, and you can be as conservative or selective as you want to be.
6. Lack of privacy
I have faced this fear myself. And almost every public personality has to face this to some extent. But this is more a misconception than a fear.
We are talking about using social media for your business. Your business presence on social media is meticulously planned. You get to choose how much of your personal details you want to broadcast or hide. There are people who tweet about where they’re having dinner right now. And there are people who will talk about a vacation only after they are back home. As a business owner, you don’t have to share any personal information.
7. Lack of security
We have all heard of incidents where someone came to harm because of something they posted online on their social media profile. This is a valid fear which should not be taken lightly. But there are ways to protect your security.
A security policy should be part of your social media policy and it should instruct your staff to refrain from posting sensitive information. In spite of all precautions, an element of risk will always be there, and you will have to accept it to some extent.
8. Fear of criticism
Many business owners feel that a social media presence will invite negative comments and bad mouthing from customers. Although social media does provide a ready channel for anyone to air grievances about any business, they will do it whether you adopt social media or not.
It is better to address a customer’s concerns on your own Facebook page rather than reading about their rants somewhere else. Every business should have a plan on how to address criticism or complaints.
9. Employees will waste time
Many business owners feel that giving employees access to social media is like leaving a kid in a candy store. They feel that employees will spend more time Facebooking with their friends and slack off. Ok. This is a valid fear. And it Will happen in some cases.
But have you considered how much exposure you will miss out on just because you want to enforce rigid controls on your staff?
Yes and no! Most tools do provide free setup, but you may need to spend on hiring and training staff, training yourself, hiring a consultant etc. Or you may need access to some paid tools if you want to take things another notch. But these expenses will streamline over a period of time.
As a business owner, you get to decide how much to pay. You can go in for phased implementation and initially allocate only a small percent of your marketing budget to social media.
Overcoming Your Social Media Fears
The first step to solving any problem is accepting you have one. You may feel threatened by any of the fears listed above. In most cases, there can be a way out. Any business that wants to be competitive cannot shy away from an online presence. And a strong online presence includes a social media footprint.
Have you thought of any of the points we listed above? And are they keeping you away from realizing the full potential of your brand? We would like to know so please leave a comment or send us an email. We will be happy to discuss your particular situation.
We will try to address how to handle these specific social media fears in our upcoming posts.