Why Companies Are Afraid Of Social Media
Why Companies are Afraid of Social Media
Why Companies are Afraid of Social Media

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from my co-author Erik Deckers. We’ll be posting a series of ideas, cross-posted on his blog and that of our publisher, Que Publishing, talking about the themes in our upcoming book No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing. Pre-order your copy today!

“We don’t do social media, because people might say bad things about us,” the executive said. “If we have a Facebook page, people might leave negative comments on it.”

“They’re already saying bad things about you,” I said. “Whether you’re on it or not, people are complaining about you, and they’re telling as many of their friends as they can.”

The rest of the conversation went as expected. Reason after reason. Excuse after excuse. We’re not on social media because. . . we don’t do social media because we. . . it’s only for young people. . .

Buy This Book! No Bullshit Social MediaIn No Bullshit Social Media, we listed 28 different reasons companies are afraid of using social media: no money, no experience, no guaranteed results, we’ve never done it that way before, yada yada yada.

There are any number of reasons why companies are afraid, and there are only a few reasons why they shouldn’t be. But these reasons trump all the excuses any business can ever come up with.

1) Social media is not going away. It’s not a fad. It’s not something we’ll forget about. Social media has been brewing for the last 30 years, when Compuserve and Prodigy started as community bulletin boards. Or even before that when real computer bulletin boards were introduced in the 1970s. Companies may come and go, but real-time communication isn’t going anywhere.

2) Social media has gained wide acceptance faster than any other medium. It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million listeners; television took 13 years to get 50 million viewers. Facebook, on the other hand, added 100 million users in 9 months. Social media is only going to grow and get a stronger foothold in the way we communicate and receive information and news.

3) Social media is inexpensive. Facebook is free, Twitter is free, blogging is free, assuming you’ve got the time and knowledge to use it. If you don’t, you can hire people to manage it for you. It’s no different from hiring in-house or outsourced professionals to manage your TV ads, your websites, and your trade shows. The only difference is once you hire social media people, your overhead is mostly finished; the tools don’t cost anything to operate.

If you hire someone to produce your TV ads, there’s still the costs of actually creating them, and then buying the airtime. You can hire people to manage your trade shows, but you still have to pay the added costs of booth space and rentals, going there, working it, and coming home. Plus expenses.

4) Social media marketing can be measured. One big difference between social media marketing and regular marketing is that we can measure social media marketing through tools like Google Analytics and SocialMention.com (both free) and Radian6 and Vocus (both paid services).

How do you measure a billboard? How do you know how many people drove by, read it, and bought your product? How do you measure a TV commercial? How do you know how many people actually sat through the entire commercial and bought as a direct result? How many walked away after 20 seconds? 10 seconds? How many people never even saw it because they changed the channels?

With social media, we can tell who read a blog post, clicked a link, and then made a purchase. Mainstream media can give you estimates and guesses, but they can’t actually count. Social media can tell you how long someone watched a video or visited a website, when they clicked away, and where they went. Mainstream media can only guess at the numbers of viewers, listeners, and readers.

Social media marketing isn’t going away. And while it seems like everybody is using it, there are still hundreds of thousands of businesses that haven’t even considered it. It’s not too late to start. It’s not too late to create a Twitter account or a blog, and then talk directly to, and hear directly from, your customers. There’s nothing to be afraid of, and there are plenty of people to help you get through the rough spots.

Want to learn more?  Pre-order No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing now!

Erik DeckersErik Deckers is the co-author of Branding Yourself: Using Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself, and most recently, the co-author of No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing. He is co-owner of Professional Blog Service, a ghost blogging and social media consulting agency in Indianapolis.

About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at JasonFalls.com.
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  • Anonymous

    Why do you think the ‘can’t be measured’ point is raised so often when those bringing it to out attention often come from a background of print and other (very difficult to measure) activities?

    • It’s mostly out of fear and ignorance. If they don’t understand social, they’ll look for every opportunity to question it in a fashion that makes most not have a good comeback. My book is the comeback that says, “Oh, yeah you can. Here’s how.” Hopefully, it’ll work.

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  • Nice article… I agree–companies shouldn’t be afraid of social media. Though I’ll acknowledge it can be an intimidating thing to those unfamiliar with it, articles like this one should put minds at ease about the pros outweighing the cons.

    @Viralheat:twitter is another inexpensive social media monitoring and analytics tool that provides some great insight as to what customers are saying about brands, products, competitors, etc.

    Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter with any questions (@shley_g:twitter).

    Ashley, Viralheat Community Manager

  • Natalie Flightner

    My company is resistant to allowing personal FB accounts to be associated with the page administration. How do we set up the page this way without violating FB’s code on not having multiple accounts? Or do you have a way for me to explain to my senior folks that it needs to be with a personal account? Thanks for any advice out there.

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  • Nice article Jason. Thanks for pointing these things out.

    Companies should not be afraid of engaging their business to social media most especially that nowadays, everything is into social media. There are ways to get rid of negative publicity of your company brand. You can subscribe into online community monitoring service company that focuses on monitoring posts on your social networking sites. See this one http://facebook.com/GaiaX.Official.EN

    • Anonymous

      Roma you don’t want to get rid of negative publicity via social media platforms.  That can have some really bad repercussions and could backfire into a whirlwind of even more negativity from users and bloggers. If a brand has a good reputation, their brand advocates will speak up on the companies behalf without the company even having to intervene.  

      In the event that a company does have to respond to negative comments or publicity it is best for the brand to own up to their mistakes and offer a solution to the problem instead of hiding and removing negative posts.  Responding lets users know that the brand actually cares about its customers and that goes a great deal further to help the brand. 

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  • Nice post here Erik and Jason, very interested to see this all in the full. Of course most here likely share the evangelism for social media, exactly to these points you mention. I’ll share a little bit of sympathy for more conservative companies and marketing departments: this is a fundamental change. If it didn’t come with some hemming and hawing, I don’t think it would be quite as important! 

  • Emily

    Great post, and your interview just goes to show how scared people can be of the “unknown.” The truth is that social media is the perfect way to engage with your prospects and clients! And by providing valuable, engaged content to people, you are establishing yourself as a subject matter expert. We are hosting a webinar this Wednesday and Thursday called “Demystifying Social Media.” To register for this event or to read the synopsis, visit http://www.grmwebsite.com/webinars/ Hopefully this is helpful to anyone out there looking to get the most out of their social media accounts! 

  • Andy

    I think most companies on the fence about this see social media as ‘unprofessional’ by showing a human side to your business, but that is ignorance for you. Social media’s allow you to interact with your customers and clients out of hours, outside of the store and in a more engaging way than an email. People trust in a company they feel connected to do that and billboards and TV ads are not doing that, being someone who takes the time to connect with your client does that. People really need to to get on social media asap as it really is a case of the sooner the better.

  • I loved reading this post. Most of the small companies are still blissfully ignorant of social media influence on customer choice of products/services. This should help them know that you can no longer ignore FB, Twitter or Youtube while planing their marketing strategy.
    Thank you so much for sharing this! And hats off to all these great women.

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  • Ozio Media

    I think your short blurb about your interview said it all. Some corporations are afraid of social media because they aren’t in control of the content like they are used to with other marketing platforms. Negative comments can be seized as an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.

  • Jason,

    Your points are well-stated. It’s so important that a business be
    embracing social media and using it consistently to offer value and build their
    brand.  I really like what you said about hiring people to help manage social
    media efforts and especially your statement: “once you’ve done
    that your overhead is mostly finished.”

    Cost is minimal compared to other forms of marketing. I would also
    like to add to be conscious of the credentials when hiring a social media
    manager. A social media manager will serve as the clients’ primary agency and
    will represent them in the most visible front. In order to represent a
    business, a social media manager should understand the challenges, goals, and
    voice of that business.   It’s essential to stay abreast of timely
    and relevant information about a business and the industry the business
    represents (as well as industry leaders and business competitors).

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  • People tend to focus on the positive side of social media, very few clearly explain the details of how social media can be disadvantageous to your business and what to do about it. 

    See this article which talks about how social media can be disadvantageous to business and what to do about it. http://bit.ly/SocialMediaDisadvantages

  • Great work. Great advocacy for business use of social. And you are so right, there is never a bad time to start a good thing!

  • I think that along with what you’ve listed to be reasons for avoiding SM, there’s also the strong need to avoid criticism directly from your consumer.  I think for the people who aren’t necessarily interested in this criticism it’s very difficult to put yourself in the social media space.

    But you and I both know that if they don’t like you, they have the power to talk about you and *virally* damage your reputation.

    On the upside, with social media you have the opportunity to connect with the people who truly care about what you do.

    All in all, people will be talking about you and your brand regardless — it might be the most valid reason for any reluctant business owner to get on board and start engaging.

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  • Love it. It is hard to convey the inevitability of the medium to naysayers for sure. You guys do a good job of fueling the pro side of the conversation here. Refreshing. Looking forward to the read.


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