Being active in a fair number of social media outlets and marketing a new B2B social content platform with online content, confronted me with a number of arguments on why some companies choose to miss out on social media. These arguments, at first, made me speechless. After some thinking about these perspectives I am still sort of speechless, nonetheless, here is my response:
1. Social media is great, but not for my industry.
Time and again I stumble upon questions and comments like this one. I hear these doubts in many different industries and am surprised that people can still arrive at this conclusion.
Assuming that an industry does not exist online just shows that you do not understand the whole concept of social media: it is about connecting to people. While some companies refuse to acknowledge the vast opportunities social media, you can be sure their employees won’t.
Considering the fact that Facebook now has some 800 million users worldwide, you can be fairly certain that at least a small percentage of people from your industry will exist within this – or other social networks. Unless your target group is lacking Internet connection (say, are Mount Sherpa’s in the Himalayas), you can bet that they can be accessed through social media.
Hop on the train and start connecting to PEOPLE, without limiting yourself to a narrow-minded focus on industries.
2. I do not have the right content for social media.
At least you got one thing right: you need strong content for your social media strategy. What you may actually be saying is that you do not want to think about what type of content will resonate with your desired readers, who can help you create this content, and how it is going to be placed in various outlets.
There are exactly two groups of people who can best tell the story about your company, what you do, how well you do it and what makes you stand out in a personal way: your employees and your customers. If you are afraid to give these two a voice, than you should sincerely question your management (and stay out of social media).
You, your employees and your customers have information to give and stories to tell – it is exactly what these people have to say that will get future clients interested in the services and products you provide.
3. We do not have the capacity/manpower/money for social media.
You have it half right: social media marketing and management are not free. It takes manpower, persistence and continuity to build social media visibility from scratch.
Most likely, your employees are not just chatting away their working hours in social media. Instead, they find information and connections, they provide you with an audience and visibility, and they talk about the company. They will probably use social media anyway, no matter how hard you try to keep them out. Why not give them some sensible guidelines for how to help you pursue social media and have your employees aid your social media campaigns.
If you have a great team, let them talk about your company online. Their effort too, can begin within the frame of time it would take to drink a cup of coffee or daydream.
Don’t get me wrong: it is worth the investment to hire someone who can manage and steer your social media ship. But remember to also utilize your crew.
Here is an example of an open social media strategy, allowing every employee some time in the net, to start discussion groups, try Google+-hangouts, create Twitter-lists, and so on – you do not think this works? Have a look at this Life Case Story of a company sending their employees into social media.
If you do not trust your employees to talk in a positive way about your company or to be able to represent your company online, you may want to rethink your recruitment process.
4. Social media marketing is just a passing hype.
This argument has actually shocked me most. In the nineties (yes, I am that old), I heard people say this crazy thing called “The Internet” was going to be over in a few years. Look at it now.
Can you really and truly believe that social media and web 2.0 is just a passing phase?
Here is what I predict: there may be a time when Facebook is history or when LinkedIn has reached its grave – there is certainly the possibility that something better, more interesting and more efficient will arise. This does not mean social media will be dead. This will be an indication that social media has not vanished, but that it has developed and blossomed.
Do you want to be left collecting the crumbs others have left you while they explore current and future opportunities?
5. My clients and business partners do not want to communicate professionally within social media.
No one wants to have promotions and advertisements shouted at us all the time – regardless of whether we are talking about a social network or real life. But…
…if we are interested in a particular subject or industry that relates to our profession, we do not leave our professional interest behind when using social media. Professional and private lives tend to naturally intermingle as we have colleagues as friends and share interests with acquaintances. We will accept a fair amount of professional information intruding into our private life.
Do not shout or overly promote and people will happily communicate with you. As your company is part of you as a person, with every bit of information, communication and interaction you get your company into social media.
6. My clients and I are too old to use computer gaming, chatting and tweeting.
Hey, even my grandmother used the Internet to search for information when she was in her nineties.
Do you really think you will NOT find a fair amount of people from your target group looking for information online? Internet and social media usage spans across a wide range of ages and demographics. If you make your information available and produce an effort to communicate, your activity will follow.
The reality is that your potential customers, clients and business partners are already engaged in the game. Don’t let your equally as ripened competitors take the cake.
7. We tried Facebook for a few weeks but the response was low.
Apart from the fact that I personally do not think that Facebook is the best place or role model for B2B networking and social media – all social media activities take time to build a following, inspire trust and create reach. It’s only when you allow a strategy enough time to produce meaningful results and are active over a longer period that you will notice improvement (and success).
As in real life – trust and reputation need time to build before you can harvest the crop.
Many businesses and professional people stop their social media activity long before they really understand its processes. They have not allowed time to figure out the right outlets and the right content for the right target audience. Thus, they have not yet built a considerable following.
Do not be the one to give up too early. When doubts about your strategy arise (and they will) – do your research and ask someone who knows more than you do.
8. We built our offline reputation for years – we do not intend to ruin it by posting ludicrous pictures online.
If you already have a reputation offline – great! Use it as a start and connect to people online who already know your offline activities. You already have a head start – and will find building an online reputation much easier.
In such case, there is a great opportunity to learn from your experience in building a reputation offline, to figure out how to build a reputation online. Many processes and concepts are similar, and often offline content can be reused in social media. People who already trust you in “real” life will help you generate a larger audience online, simply by sharing your content and communicating with you online.
Once you have gotten your offline networking, branding and reputation building right offline, it’s not such a stretch to transfer your knowledge online.
Do not use lukewarm excuses to miss out on the vast opportunities of social media for your business. It is worth learning and pursuing.
It is easy to be intimidated by something with which you are not yet familiar. Resist this temptation.
Rest assured that all of the business professionals who have experienced desired levels of success, have probably started out with just the same doubts and missteps, trials and errors. Give it time, but start now.
This Article was originally published on exploreB2B.