How Objections to Social Media Are Killing Your Business
One of the most common objections to social media is that it’s a fad; here today gone tomorrow. There is truth in that the social media sites we have today grew out of other sites: LinkedIn (2003) evolved from SixDegrees (1997) and Friendster (2002), then MySpace (2006) gave way to Facebook (2004) when it opened itself up beyond college students in 2006. And this is not the end of the list by any stretch.
As long as human beings have the need to reach out and communicate, they will discover and push technologies to achieve that. I am still waiting for the technology that makes Star Trek’s transporter replace airplanes! In the meantime, the best way to do business globally is to pull together a social media strategy. Yet, a lot of business owners haven’t done so because of their objections to social media. However, these objections may be killing your ability to generate leads and new customers and ultimately, be killing your business.
1. There’s no return on investment in social media. What is the ROI for your phone? If you don’t have a phone or a website or a social media profile, you do not exist on the business landscape of your customer. That doesn’t mean that you just throw money at social media and hope it delivers results. Use sound business principles. Set business goals and start comparing the investment you currently have in getting and keeping customers with new social media tools.
2. We don’t have the money or the time to waste on this new thing. This is another ROI question. If you currently make cold calls, send sales reps into the field, go to networking events, travel to trade shows, gather business cards, make sales calls, make appointments, drive to appointments and make more appointment to generate a new sale, then you might actually be saving time and money by using social media tools. I still have face-to-face meetings, but these often come AFTER a lengthy relationship building series over LinkedIn, Facebook and even Skype. I’ve just calculated my mileage for taxes and have seen a 50 percent decrease in travel miles over the last three years. The same is true for my “meals” category!
3. We can’t control our message. Yes. Tony Hayward from BP had this same objection and we see how much good it did him. The way you control your message with social media is by putting it out there in the form of blog articles, guest articles, Twitter posts, Facebook updates, LinkedIn updates, answering questions and simply being present online. Think of Google as your homepage. When people search on your name or your company name—the content that you created should overwhelm the page. On a personal note, when I searched my name back in 2005, there was a soap opera star ahead of me and (of all things) a blow up doll! I certainly didn’t want my customers to see THAT! Now when I search on my name—it’s only my content.
4. We’ll lose privacy and expose ourselves to the competition. You will lose as much privacy as you would by sharing information at a networking event or a customer presentation. In fact, social media is a sales and marketing tool—the last thing you want is privacy! Worrying about privacy is like sending your sales rep to a trade show and saying, “Don’t tell anyone we’re there.” You wouldn’t do that at a trade show, why do it online? Maybe you’re stuck on the Twitter idea that people share what they’re having for breakfast. That might have been true in the early days, but overwhelmingly Twitter is a place where conversations happen about brand. There are marketing research tools out there designed to pull and analyze what products and services people are talking about. They wouldn’t do that if it wasn’t there and important.
5. We’ll open ourselves up for legal problems. This is a valid concern, especially for companies that are in heavily regulated industries like financial services. Instead of saying that it’s too difficult, get legal advice on what is acceptable in your industry. In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission issued general guidelines for social media that will help you start thinking about what the best way is for you to address your social media strategy. I recommend coming up with objectives and plans for your social media marketing strategy and THEN consult your legal team. This way you will get them to think of ways for you to achieve your objective instead of focusing on what you cannot do. Finally, create a social media policy that clearly states what’s acceptable and what’s not for your organization. Create social media identities for those employees who are eager to promote your brand online and be clear about how they are to represent your brand.
Don’t let uncertainty or doubt overcome the need for your business to gain new leads, prospects and customers. Instead of approaching the world of social media with an immediate “no” and then finding excuses as to why it’s not for you, start with “yes” and see what benefits suddenly open up for you.