November 19th, 2010

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Fear of Social Media in Business Marketing

Steve Olenski has written up a blurb on how many businesses still fear Social Media, citing a survey conducted by American Express OPEN that discovered that only 40% of businesses leverage Social Media. Some of the reasons attributed can be found in another article, 15 reasons why companies may fear social media. What are some of those reasons? Excerpted:

  • Fear
  • Lack of experience
  • Ignorance
  • Waiting for ROI
  • Lack of Resources
  • Unwilling to be transparent
  • Terrified of feedback/truth
  • High degree of skepticism

The reasons above are very valid points. It’s doubtful that there is one lone reason for a business to shy away from Social Media because the reasons are intertwined. For instance, a business may feel they lack the resources to maintain social media because they also feel that there isn’t a viable ROI, or that they don’t want to be transparent in dealing with negative feedback.

There are some additional reasons, not covered in the above articles, mostly of which stem from fear. They are:

Fear of losing control: Large corporations have long held brand management close and embracing Social Media would involve loosening the grip over brand management.

Fear of legal repercussions: A viable point. When opening up to Social Media, there are possible legal liabilities that a company would have to deal with in terms of any communications made through those channels, such as a CEO writing in the company blog.

Fear of negative responses: This goes back to being transparent. Negative feedback can be highlighted through Social Media. As such, it can be dealt with and turned around through Social Media

Fear of commitment: Like most things, it takes time and effort to properly succeed at Social Media.

Fear of change: Embracing Social Media involves embracing something akin to the unknown. Social Media is a relatively new form of marketing and anything new brings with it a stigma of being wary. This is, perhaps, the largest obstacle any company faces when it comes to Social Media.

In closing, it’s a large barrier to leap over but fear of change has plagued businesses for many years. One book that best illustrates this phenomenon is Who Moved My Cheese. Like rats in a maze, the book takes this analogy further by following different personalities (each mouse), some willing to change to survive “to find the cheese” and some complacent with the same, ever so futile, routine even though it leads to never finding the cheese. Businesses need to adapt to current trends in order to survive. Social Media is here to stay and is the fastest growing channel of communication, having now surpassed email. Imagine not using email? Businesses must not only adopt but also embrace Social Media in order to survive and compete in today and tomorrow’s economy.

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