There are different disciplines of social media. Broadly they can be broken down into – Listening, Talking, Supporting and Innovating. All organizations can (and should) do the listening piece, if for nothing else than as a planning tool for future activity or simply seeing what is being said about them, their competitors and their industry around the web –good old fashioned research. There are plenty of social media monitoring tools out there (free and paid) which can help with this.
However, maybe the time isn’t right for your organization to start with the other three areas which require more resources in terms of time, development and human capital. So, even though it may seem that every man and his dog is now ‘doing’ social media, if any of the following sound familiar then maybe your business isn’t quite ready to jump on the bandwagon.
1. You don’t have the resources yet for a social media program
Plain and simple, if you don’t have the money, the time or the man power to dedicate to social media then you won’t be able to execute properly. In spite of what you may have heard, social media isn’t free. It takes the same level of resource as any other marketing or communications initiative and so you need to find budget from other areas of the business, you need to include social in staff’s job role’s or hire the skills you need either in-house or to a social media agency. Most importantly, you need to put in the ‘hard yards’ in terms of time. There are real, financial, benefits from implementing social media programs into your organization, but it won’t happen by magic and doing anything ‘half arsed’ is going to fail in the long run.
2. Your customers aren’t using social media
With all the coverage and hype social media gets right now, I know it’s hard to imagine that everyone in the known World isn’t using it and while the numbers seem impressive, the fact is not everyone is! You need to do the research before any program to determine if your customers are using social networks or communities and if so, which ones. You can throw up a Facebook fan page, create a Twitter account, set up a blog and upload videos to your YouTube channel until the cows come home, but if your customers aren’t there… then it’s a waste of time. Fish where the fish are, as they say.
3. You have no idea why you are doing it
As with any marketing and communications program, you need a clear strategy and with goals and objectives at the core. Going through the planning stage will help determine whether social is going to be effective for your business, will make sure your objectives are aligned with the activity and help determine what measurement metrics need to be applied. If you luck out and manage to create a thriving, engaged community by simply creating an account and ‘joining the conversation’ then …High 5, but you are in the minority! Some sports brands, celebs, fashion label etc might, might be able to pull it off but I would advise spending the time doing the planning.
4. Your staff aren’t very ‘social’
Unless you are planning on outsourcing all your communication with your customers then your staff are going to be on the front line, talking with your current and future customers…so they better be ready! There are countless social media disasters to draw upon where the underlying reason for the ‘fail’ is lack of training and understanding of how to use the technology or the ‘rules’ in a given community. You wouldn’t let an untrained intern lead your marketing programs, so don’t let them do so with social. There is a world of difference between using Facebook, LinkedIn or a blog for personal use and running a successful social program for a business.
5. You think social media will be a quick fix for your business
If you are from a marketing or advertising background, then you will be comfortable with campaigns. Campaigns are planned, executed, measured and then they end. Social an ongoing process of interaction with your customers (or at least it should be) and if you are just starting out then it will take a while to build up awareness and a longer to establish yourself as a useful resource. There are certainly promotions and ‘campaigns’ that social media can sit at the heart of but the purpose of doing those should be to keep the audience active on your channels on an ongoing basis… otherwise you are only scratching the surface in terms of value.
What have I missed? What other reasons are there for a business to not start engaging with their customers through social media? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.