Afraid of Social Media? Excuse 1: Lack of Control

I had the honor of speaking at the recent PubCon conference in Las Vegas in a session entitled “Is Social Media & Search a Love Story or a War Story?” where I discussed some of the common excuses I hear from existing search marketing clients as to why they have yet to jump on the social media band wagon. I followed this by presenting some of the benefits companies both large and small can derive from social media and networking sites.

I thought it would be good to provide here on this blog a more extensive look at what I actually presented. This will be the first in a series of posts that will provide greater detail of what I presented at PubCon in the short time-span I had to speak. I will begin with the excuses followed by the benefits.

Traditional companies have been very slow to embrace the social media/networking phenomena. In fact it seems that some are downright scared to death of it. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Digg and others continue to grow in popularity as well as usage and yet the eagerness of many companies to jump on board is to say the least – apathetic.

As I work with companies who are running existing search marketing campaigns, I hear a broad range of excuses why they have yet to jump on the social media/networking bandwagon. The first of many excuses is that companies fear they will not be able to control the social media environments should they get involved.

What it really boils down to is the fear companies have that their customers will talk about them or even worse – to them.

A traditional web site allows the company to “talk to” the customer through means of textual content (copy), audio and even video.

Social media has added a “community” aspect to the web which now eliminates the one way conversation. End users are able to interact with companies in a variety of ways.

While this should delight any company doing business on the web, it scares many because they hold the belief that they will lose control if the people are allowed to speak.

If this is your opinion, I have news for you – your customers are already talking about you. So why not get involved in the conversation?

A great example of a company “getting involved in the conversation” occurred in August of this year when Netflix’s shipping system went down for about four days. While some were understanding, many were upset. In fact the disruption of not being able to get DVDs by mail seemed to be ruining the lives of a few Netflix customers. People were talking on news sites, blogs, social media sites and the like.

Rather then ignore the fact that people were talking, Netflix used their blog (a form of social media) to communicate with their users.

In the course of a week, they posted six entries (one each day). The first announced the shipping delay, followed by a series of updates and finally a post announcing not only that the the problem had been resolved but that they would be issuing customers whose DVDs were delayed a 15% credit.

Those six entries generated over a 1,000 comments as of the writing of this post. This is company to consumer interaction in its purest form – Netflix communicating with customers and customers responding, whether they have praises, complaints or something else to say.

The bottom line is that if you are not involved in social media in some way, shape or form, you have already lost control. Embracing social media will allow you to enter the conversation which allows you to have control, not the lack of it.

The next post in this series will deal with another common excuse I often hear – “we have no one to monitor our social media environments.”

David Wallace

David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been involved in developing successful search engine and social media marketing campaigns for large and small businesses. Follow +David Wallace on Google + as well as Twitter.

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