Top Fears When Starting to Use Social Media Marketing
Social Media Is Gaining In Popularity and Function
Every day, social media is gaining popularity and function. Facebook, once a project to help college students get to know each other, is now a world-wide platform used by grandparents, businesses, long-separated friends, and college students.
Approximately 75% of the population uses the Internet to research companies before doing business with them, at least for transactions of any consequence. This means that time you posted a Twitterpic of your dinner might be seen by a potential client before they hear your business plan.
The normal business courtesy of returning phone calls within 24 hours has now developed into the return of Email messages in a timely manner. Increasingly, customers expect companies to have a social media presence that allows for questions and comments between the company, themselves, and other customers. In our new economy, an open forum is increasingly expected.
Why Do Companies Market Through Social Media?
In a word: engagement. So what is engagement? Simply put, it’s communicating with customers and prospects quickly and on target, which can rapidly gain loyalty from customers when it’s done well. Generation Y tends to check Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or whatever the favorite social media channel may be, more often than they check their complexion for blemishes.
Older folks are giving some competition in the social media usage statistics, too. Do any of us not know someone who posts a picture of what they are eating several times per week, or announce to the world that they have showed up at whatever location? A growing number of older folks are now considered to be ‘digital imports,’ meaning they weren’t born with a smart phone in their hand. While Generation Y sometimes get into arguments over which smart phone is best, most older folks don’t really care, as long as the thing works. But older folks that don’t have smart phones are also a shrinking breed.
The lesson to be learned from this is that while people may not be talking on the phone or in person as much as before, the social media universe is alive and thriving. Businesses that ignore this are at risk of being viewed as irrelevant. Companies deemed to be irrelevant have as much hope of thriving in today’s marketplace as a blacksmith who is time-transported from New York City in 1870 to 2014.
There is only so much of a market for a tourist attraction blacksmith.
So Why Are Business Owners Afraid to Market Using Social Media?
There are many major and minor reasons. The first reason is fear, and that fear is displayed from various motivations, but that fear can be broken down even further.
There is the fear of looking bad, or of seeming inept. It’s likely that you will look a bit inept to some people, even when you are doing a pretty good job. Generation Y people have made taking pot-shots into a sport of sorts. At least not all Generation Y people do that though, so you should be able to please some of them. (It helps if you are selling something they think is really cool.)
Social media is part of life for some, while many business owners and executives consider ‘real life’ to be something other than staring at a computer or cell phone. Try telling that to the rather large crowd of people who are on Facebook or Twitter, or both, at most stop lights, or when driving on a straight road, or while eating, or – well, you get the idea.
Then again, how does one translate ‘likes’ on Facebook or ‘followers’ on Twitter to dollars in the door of your business? With social media marketing, there is a learning curve that has a different set of rules than those involved with producing excellent widgets. For some, that is truly scary.
There is the fear of missing out on the marketing opportunities that arise from well-focused, well executed, and thoughtfully targeted social media marketing. For those that remember the ‘pet rock’ phenomenon of a few decades ago, and the ridiculous profits made in a short time selling stuff your mom swept out the door, social media marketing may seem like a similar ride. But it is different and much more intelligent.
Social media is also not likely to go away anytime soon. Are you losing business to competitors who are employing successful social media marketing methods and techniques? Probably. However, the fear of missing out could actually cause you to jump in before developing at least some sort of plan that was considered longer than the decision about whether to ‘supersize’ your lunch today.
My recommendation? Take the leap, but figure out where you want to land before you jump.
Other social media marketing fears include the following:
I’m afraid we will be open to negative statements on social media. Yes, you will. But that has always happened with any marketing anyway. Social media marketing is changing all the time.
How can I keep up? My recommendation is simply pay attention, ditch what’s not working, and emphasize social media that is getting positive response, just like any other marketing
Who wants to hear my message on social media? Pretty much the same people that want to hear your message anywhere else. With social media, however, you may attract some people with a robust conversation that may not have been previously interested in your newly invented automatic hair dye dispenser, and also get their feedback.