Social Media: Easing Fear in the C-Suite

by Nathan King


Social Media FearIn Jason Fall's recent book, No Bullshit Social Media, he refers to a list of 28 reasons why companies shy away from using social media for their business (originally published by Jeff Bullas). Some of these fears include security risks, loss of control of the brand image and fear of making a mistake. My person favorite is number #26: Terrified of feedback and truth.

Yes, some people are terrified of social media.

In order for the C-Suite to agree to a social media strategy or program, there is most likely a need to ease these fears before anything can happen. Fortunately for you, all you need to do is convince them that they haven't been in control for years, and that a well thought out social media program/strategy is the solution.

The C-Suite wants control of the brand, but the idea of control is floating up there somewhere between unicorns and the lost city of Atlantis. While some executives hide from the mere mention of social media, others are perfectly willing -- you just need to convince them it is the right business move to make. Here are some cards you can play:

  • The Unclaimed Profile Card: In most cases, there are already a number of unofficial accounts associated with your brand. Social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook automatically create profiles for brands when employees list where they work. Sites like Yelp and Google allow anyone to add a business. These profile pages for your brand are probably out there. With a little bit of research and time, these profiles can be identified and claimed, so your brand has the ability to respond to reviews and flag ones that might be off-basis.

Convince the C-Suite: Show your managers what pages and profiles are already out there and let them know how easy it is to claim the profiles. Make sure to point out any negative and positive reviews on these sites. Want some bonus points? By optimizing local profiles, you may also see some addition local search traffic.

  • The People are Already Talking About Us Card: The power of publishing is no longer controlled by magazines, television stations and newspapers. That concept died about 10 years ago. Anyone can start a blog. Anyone can publish, and brands cannot control what is said about them. Chances are that people are talking about your brand and you're not listening.

Convince the C-Suite: Set up Google Alerts for a few weeks to monitor brand mentions. Use search tools such as Google and Social Mention to find past mentions on blogs and forums. Spend some time searching Facebook and Twitter's public posts as well. Are consumers mentioning the brand? Show some proof.

  • The Danger From Within Card: By not educating employees about social media etiquette and creating a social media policy, you're putting too much trust in your team For every 10 people who understand that you can't tweet about company secrets, there is always one person who doesn't see a problem tweeting a photo of your 2013 business objectives (true story). Getting all employees on the same page with social media keeps your business safe. At a very minimum, create social media policies and guidelines for your brand and educate employees on proper etiquette.

Convince the C-Suite: Spend some time on http://socialmediagovernance.com to find other businesses who have created policies. If you can find an industry leader who is doing it, your brand might have a better shot at being added to the list.

  • The Competition is Already There Card: Depending on who you're presenting your case to, some people can't take the thought of a competitor being first.

Convince the C-Suite: Make sure to point out where the competition is, what they're doing right and how you can do it better. Spend some time to study what your competition is doing. Are they responding to customer service issues or reaching out to new customers? Shouldn't you be doing the same?

  • The Nobody is Talking About Us Card: While the thought of an empty channel of communication may sound like a breath of relief to some executives, the fact that nobody is passionate about your product or talking about it is a frightening thought as well. Think about it: nobody is talking about you.

Convince the C-Suite: Show examples of how social media can be used to create loyalty and engage with customers after the sale. It can cost a lot less to retain a customer and get them to recommend others than it would cost to bring a new customer in.

  • The Bottom Line Card: Social media is not about gathering fans or followers. You can have 30,000 followers on Twitter, but if those 30,000 are not affecting your bottom line, you're wasting time.

Convince the C-Suite: When talking about getting on board with social media, don't just say that the brand needs to be on Facebook. Figure out how much time is going to need to be invested across the company so everyone has a clear picture of the costs. You're going to have to show how social media can bring in leads, improve customer service and drive customer loyalty.

As unsound as many of these fears may seem to you, you have to respect and respond to each fear. Just telling someone that his or her concerns are not based in reality is not good enough -- you have to educate and convince the members of the C-Suite.

My one last piece of advice here: Don't stack your own deck. Telling those who doubt social media about getting millions of followers or promising viral content may get your budget approved, but you're likely setting yourself up for failure by making promises you can't keep. Be honest, set expectations up front and present a sound business case for social media use.

What kinds of fears have you had to overcome with your social media program? What's holding you back? Add your comments below.

Nathan KingNathan King is a Digital Strategist at Long Island advertising agency Austin & Williams and a leader in Social Media marketing. To read more about Nathan, visit his bio section on the A&W Web site.

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