Many business owners and professionals are still reluctant to add social media to their marketing strategy because of perceived risks. However, social media has already gone mainstream and you may be risking more by remaining out of the social media conversation than you do by strategically participating.
By taking a proactive, strategic approach to social media, you can benefit from its advantages while mitigating the downside of using this medium. Here are some of the common concerns keeping businesses from using social media.
Fear of losing control of what is being communicated about your business. In this age of information overload, most people are paying less attention to what is being said about your business than you might think. Putting that aside, however, the more important consideration is that there are conversations about your business occurring in the social space. If you are not there, you don’t even know what is being said. You no longer have control over the public conversation about your business, but if you are at least monitoring the forums where discussions are happening, you can address questions, concerns and issues as they arise.
Fear that negative information about your company will be broadcast for all the world to see. Today’s consumers expect to see some negative information about everyone online. While you always want to put your best foot forward, everyone stumbles occasionally. What people watch is how you handle yourself when you stumble or fall flat on your face. Do you address customer complaints posted online quickly and express your desire to resolve problems to the customer’s satisfaction? One of the best testimonials you can have is from a customer whose complaint was handled in a way that left them happy about their experience with you.
Fear that your competitors will have ammunition to use against you. This is unavoidable to a large extent and will not provide them with a significant competitive advantage. If they are participating in the social conversation, you will have similar information about them. If they are not participating, then they will be at a competitive disadvantage and you can still see what others are saying about them.
You can put your mind more at ease about becoming involved in social media by doing the following:
1. Have a written social media policy describing who in your company can engage with social media, what they can and cannot write about, and how to separate business and personal communications. Courtesy of Eric Schwartzman, here is a comprehensive social media policy template.
2. Have a plan for how to handle a social media crisis. What steps will you take in the event that a public relations disaster is broadcast across social channels? Once you have thought through how you would deal with the worst that could happen, you can rest easier knowing that you are prepared in the event of a crisis.
3. Study how industry leaders in your market are approaching social media. One nice thing about social media is that you can see what the best practitioners are doing and learn from them. You do not have a reinvent the wheel.
Any thoughts or comments on overcoming the fear of engaging in social media are welcome.