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What To Say When Management Says "No" To Online Social Media

written by Gabrielle Hendryx-Parker on Thursday October 28, 2010

Most of us will agree with Robin Sharma, who writes in The Greatness Guide that "business is relationships". The trust factor is what explains why we choose to do business with someone rather than someone else. And how we build trust in the first place is by creating relationships.

The need to connect with others to establish trust is why social media is thriving.

"People want to know that you are real."
In Unmarketing, Scott Stratten defines social media as "the ability to have conversations on line with others", whether it is your customers, your prospects, your market, your colleagues or others. Sharma explains: "People want to know that you are real. That you are decent, kind and trustworthy". Because "when they see that you have their best interests in mind, they will trust you".

Social media offers a formidable array of options to open yourself up to your market. Yet, many organizations have not embraced social media, usually for the following reasons:

No Time

Companies say they have no time, that leveraging Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, blog posts and others is too time-consuming. It is true that building relationships does take efforts and time. But we are most likely already doing the reading and researching, just not sharing it. As an example, we, at Six Feet Up, use multiple Jabber rooms to discuss various topics throughout the day, everyday. Many of the posts I see all day long are very interesting and highly relevant to our clients. So I keep nudging my team to include the rest of the world in our discussions, and share our findings.
Ultimately, if you believe that "business is relationships", then "you need to make time to be in that conversation", Stratten says. Come to think about it: if you are not using social media, and most people are online, how then are you listening, and responding, to your target audience?


Yes, it is hard to calculate the ROI on time spent on Twitter, LinkedIn, and the likes. But isn't it as hard to know the ROI of the recent networking event the company sales reps went to? We don't think twice about getting up at 5am to go to a BNI or Rain Makers event, yet we feel bad about spending even half an hour online talking to our existing or prospective clients. We need to rethink the notion that physical hard work is more effective than targeted online activities.


No Control

Companies fear losing control of their corporate messages if they were to allow their employees to use social media. They want to feel like they control the communications that people in their organization send out. They carefully craft press releases that are reviewed and edited by multiple departments in an attempt at imprinting the customer's brain with a long lasting positive image of their brands.

You never had control over the message to start with.
"The funny thing", Stratten writes, "is that they never had control even before social media". Because you can't control how the receiver will read, process, and interpret the message. And you certainly can't control how they will share that message with others, as they will most likely add their own spin to it.
In the end, it boils down to the simple fact that if you can't trust your employees to post a tweet or write a blog post on their own, it means you have some serious competitive issues to solve to stay in business.

Is your organization embracing social media or not? For which reasons? Add a comment below and let's start a conversation.
Posted by Scott Paley on Oct 28, 2010 05:50 AM
So much of this comes down to fear of the unknown, but progress has been made in this area. Many companies have come to realize that they are putting themselves at a strategic disadvantage if their competitors are actively engaging with customers through social channels and they are not. This trend will accelerate. That said, social media needs to be part of larger, more integrated marketing efforts. There are all too many examples of companies like Comcast who, at least for a time, had a remarkably effective Twitter channel (thanks to @comcastcares), but at the same time are widely despised for their overall customer service. In a very real sense, customer service *is* social media marketing and the sooner companies realize that, the better off we'll all be. Just ask Tony Hsieh at Zappos about that. He's built that entire business around this idea. Scott Paley
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