Reasons why companies aren’t using social media

I’ve worked with a number of organisations in my time. These organisations have been of varying sizes, from those with over 9,000 employees, to those with just one. What I’ve found is that regardless of the size of the company, there are generally the same concerns about using social media. Ultimately, these have become so common, that the answers are becoming cliched, but I’ll share them here anyway.

Risk Management and Social Media

One of the first concerns is “what about the risk involved?”. Yes, there is risk in using social media, but this risk is no bigger than any other risk at your company. Social media is just communication and relationships. Every company has a relationship and some form of communication with their customers, this is no different. What seems to scare people most though about social media is the immediacy and longevity of it in the public sphere. What I would say to this is; understand it, ensure yourself or your employee who is representing you can be trusted on there and always ensure you have governance and guidelines in place to protect yourself. At the risk of pulling out one of those social media cliches, “it is more risky not to be involved in social media than it is to be involved in it”. Your customers are talking about you online now. Would you rather be involved in the conversation and have the chance to influence it or pretend it isn’t there and never truly know the damage it does?

Resourcing and Social Media

Another common reason why companies don’t use social media is that they are concerned about the resourcing aspect of maintaining the sites long term. My response to this is that social media marketing is not a short-term solution, but rather a long-term communication plan for your company. Don’t go into it half-heartedly, expecting to easily disappear if it’s not working out for you. It should be something that forms an integral part of your communications strategy, and as such, it requires an experienced resource to manage it. Many companies still rely on interns or marketing officers to handle their social media. Their reasons for doing so are wide and varied and in some instances, justified, however, if you can afford to add a social media strategist or manager to your team, do it. Social media requires someone who understands the space well, not just for personal use, but for business use also. Don’t write it off as something that anyone in your team can manage. You need someone who understands the space, can influence key stakeholders and can represent your company well online. If you can’t afford to hire someone, teach yourself as much as you can about social media by using it often and absorbing the culture. It needn’t take up all of your time, in fact, it can be quite manageable, especially when you’re starting out. So, learn the best tools to save you time and engage often.

Nothing to Say with Social Media

Another common concern for companies getting started in social media is that they have ‘nothing to say’ on there. Everyone has something to say. If you’re a small local business, or a large global organisation, you have something to say about your company. Whether it’s special deals, events, news, employee opinions or any number of topics, everyone has something to say. Think of social media like a party; Facebook is the pub where you meet your friends and family, Twitter is a cocktail party where you’re getting to know new people and mingling and LinkedIn is a corporate conference where you’re talking about business. The same conversations you’d have here, you can have for your business, but always keep it professional yet informal. If you run out of things to say, use the 50/25/25 rule.

Customers Aren’t Using Social Media

Something that organisations often say to me is “our customers aren’t using social media”. Firstly, that’s simply not true and secondly, that’s simply not true. Your customers and potential customers are using these sites, it’s just a matter of finding out where they are. With the over 55’s being the fastest growing Facebook user group and the mid 30’s being the biggest users of Twitter, social networks aren’t just for teenagers and geeks. Your customers will be using social networks to stay in touch with their friends and family and this is where you can find them. The easiest thing to do is to start to listen out for your brand in online spaces. Set up a really easy listening station (see How to Grow Bigger Ears in 10 Minutes by Chris Brogan) and start to figure out where your customers are most active. Think about potential customers too, after all, you want to ensure you’re chatting to them also.

Don’t Understand Social Media

Social media can seem scary at first, but when you start using it, you’ll quickly realise that it’s pretty easy to use. A lot of companies are just scared and worried that they don’t understand social media so they are better ignoring it. You’re not, trust me. Ignoring social media is like ignoring email or websites. Years ago, the smart companies started getting their websites up quickly and understood the advantage of having an online presence. Social media is really no different. People almost expect companies to have social media sites now and the only way you’ll learn to understand it is to use it. If it helps, bring in an expert to get you up and running initially, then start to take the reigns yourself. Either way, don’t leave it until it’s too late.

Companies and Social Media

A recent survey stated that the majority of Fortune 500 companies were using social media and many of them were best practice examples of how to use it. This isn’t a coincidence. Companies need to use social media now to connect and engage with their customers and potential customers. If you’re one of the people using the excuses above, let’s move past it and start to see the amazing benefits of using social media. If you’re still struggling, contact me. I can help alleviate any concerns you’ve got with some solid examples of businesses who were in exactly the same situation as you and who are now loving their social media use.