Social Media: What Are You Afraid Of?

13 Ways Social Media Scares Marketers

Social media is scary for marketers. Used to controlling their brand and messages, they feel most comfortable using one-to-many media for distributing their marketing messages. By contrast, social media allows for multi-directional socializing and interaction.

As a result, marketers only control one aspect of the current communications ecosystem while consumers and the public have media platforms that provide low cost content creation and distribution.

Here are thirteen ways social media instills marketers with fear and actionable marketing tips to help your firm overcome these issues.

  1. People can say bad things about us. With social media, every consumer has a media platform, a built-in audience and a megaphone to amplify their message. A disgruntled customer can use his smartphone to capture an incident and quickly distribute it. Actionable Marketing Tactic.  Use social media’s public forum to engage customers and determine how to improve your offering, gather insights for future improvements, and provide additional service where needed.
  2. We can’t track social media’s impact on sales. Measuring social media’s results can be challenging since they often occur before you realize consumers are shopping. The bigger issue is neglecting to capture the appropriate customer activity. Actionable Marketing Tactic. Incorporate a call-to-action in your social media content and a related unique tracking code.  Further, ensure that your analytics can track these results.
  3. Our senior management isn’t on board. Since they don’t get social media, they don’t support social media initiatives making it difficult to get appropriate resources and support. Actionable Marketing Tactic. Start with a small initiatives where you can track results. Remember to publicize your successes internally.
  4. We don’t have enough resources. Many businesses still operate under the misguided impression that social media is free or can be done by a college student with a Facebook page. Actionable Marketing Tactic. Hide your social media budget. Also, leverage other resources such as PR, communications, customer service, training, and/or product support to get help from other budgets.
  5. We don’t have the right resources and/or appropriate skills. While a good proportion of the population uses social media, this doesn’t translate into everyone having the skills necessary to be your ambassador on social media platforms. For example, your firm may have the best phone representatives in your category, but they lack the written skills to communicate via social media platforms. Actionable Marketing Tactic. While short term, it may be easiest to use outsourcing to obtain these social media skills, develop a plan to create in-house bench strength through a combination of training and targeted hires.
  6. Our branding and messaging are inconsistent. Using a variety of social media platforms managed by different departments and/or individuals can result in inconsistent branding and communications. Further, it increases complexity and tracking costs. Actionable Marketing Tactic. Set social media guidelines so employees know how to act when they’re on social media platforms for corporate and personal reasons. Additionally, extend your branding guidelines to social media and distribute them throughout your organization. Don’t overlook social media’s human aspect such as your brand’s voice, language usage, other media, and portrayal in live events, photographs and video.
  7. Someone’ll hijack our social media conversation for their own purposes. In today’s 24/7 news cycle where everyone’s a media entity, lots of people are tracking current events to find a hook to exploit. No matter what you do, someone’s trying to leverage every piece of high profile news.  Actionable Marketing Tactic. Build an active base on social media to ensure that you’re able to quickly respond to the conversation and present your perspective. A notable example is Scotty Monty and the Ranger Station Fire.
  8. We’ll make embarrassing mistakes damaging our reputation. Face it–everyone fears social media foot-in-mouth disease. The real time nature of social media engagement is ripe with opportunities for a misstep either intentionally or unintentionally. Actionable Marketing Tactic.  As recommended above, establish a set of social media guidelines for how to act on social media. Additionally, train customer-facing staff on how to engage on social media. Also, have a plan for how to respond should an issue occur.
  9. An employee may go rogue. Either intentionally or accidently an employee makes a public gaff or acts out. What’ s important to your firm’s image and credibility is how you handle it. For example, JetBlue, a firm known for its social media savvy, had a flight attendant quit using the rear chute. Actionable Marketing Tactic. Have a real time PR response plan ready.
  10. Our company is afraid of being transparent. We’re scared prospects and customers will learn too much about us which will hurt margins and sales. Actionable Marketing Tactic. Transparency doesn’t mean tell all! Be open about how you do business, but don’t give away corporate secrets. As for pricing, differentiate your offering so you don’t compete only on price.
  11. Competitors will find out our company secrets. Astute competitors already track your firm’s actions via a variety of methods including interviewing your employees for positions in their firms.  Actionable Marketing Tactic. Monitor your competitors to see what they’re doing in the market and on social media.
  12. Our company’s social media accounts can get hacked. This can happen to one account or multiple accounts, it’s a real problem I’ve faced myself. Actionable Marketing Tactic. Give social media users training so they’re able to keep your firm’s accounts safe. Instruct them to use passwords that are hard to guess (such as a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.) Establish a protocol for how to ensure speedy recovery if important information is corrupted.
  13. Our company will get hurt by a social media firestorm. The reality is that a social media firestorm can break out over anything, regardless of whether you’re on social media or not. Actionable Marketing Tactic. While it sounds counter intuitive, the best thing your firm can do to be prepared for a social media blow up is to have a base on at least one social media platform. This reduces your vulnerability because you’ve got an established audience to whom you can turn to in bad times. Additionally, prepare a crisis management plan

When it comes to social media, the scariest thing is the unknown. As a new form of content creation and communications, your company may have limited experience with the medium. It takes time and practice to build up your expertise.

Is there anything else that scares you about social media? If so, what is it and why is it scary?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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  • http://www.tickyes.com/ Bethany Brightmore

    Many companies fear interacting with their consumers through social media, and this blog provides a brilliant strategic outlook into how companies can overcome any problems they have/may face!
    It is important to remember that social media, has to some degree, taken over face to face interaction, and consumers are becoming more reliant on using this platform to engage with brands.
    We have written a similar blog regarding some of the misconceptions companies have about social media, which complements this perfectly!
    http://bit.ly/seOe4L