Within two days, I spoke to three companies about social media. The conversations were eerily similar.
Company: People tell me I need social media, but we already have a website.
Me: I agree. Social media would help your company.
Company: But we have a website.
Me: Yes, but social media lets people get to know you, trust you, and hear what other people are saying about you.
Company: That's why we have a website.
Me: But —
Company: We have a really good website.
I came to the conclusion that the companies weren't opposed to social media as much as they were scared of it. They see social media as:
- Too big to get their head around
- A huge learning curve
- Only for kids
- Time away from constructive activities
- New risks for the company.
If you're scared, you're going to have to face that social media is here to stay. The good news is that it doesn't have to be a terrifying ordeal.
Let's knock down these fears one by one.
Fear: Social Media is Too Big
Response: There are loads of social media platforms out there, of which Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are three. With a little research (possibly just asking an employee) you can find out which ones would be good fit for your organization.
Fear: Huge Learning Curve
Response: None of these platforms take a rocket scientist to navigate. After watching just a couple YouTube tutorials, you can be adequate in nearly any one of them. Take one at a time. Don't try to learn them all at once.
Fear: It's Only for Kids
Response: Social media is for companies. It's becoming an industry standard. Check out this article, which discusses how Fortune 500 companies are using social media. Social media isn't for kids, it's how companies are interacting with present, past and potential customers.
Fear: Takes Away From Productive Time
Response: Social media does take time. But if you consider time spent on value branding, marketing, research and communication as productive time, then social media is worth it.
Fear: Social Media Adds Risk
Response: If you're an organization worried about potential risks from participating in social media, be proactive. Training videos like Legal Social Media at Work help educate companies and their employees about reducing risks such as revealing trade secrets and proprietary information, defamation of a company brand, failure to comply with social media policies and codes of conduct, digital harassment and more.
If social media still makes you nervous, take a deep breath. Do what I did. When the time came to learn how to use it, I turned to my teenage niece. I highly recommend it. You can get a premium education for a box of Krispy Kreme.
Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.