“We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” Franklin D. Roosevelt
Fear of losing control: The old saw is back! But do not underestimate how strong a hold message control still has on today’s communicator. Unwriting 60 years of communications theory — theory that is still being taught in universities throughout the world — is no easy task. It’s no wonder why corporate types balk when they hear brand management theories won’t work anymore.
Fear of negative feedback: Less of an issue these days, but still prevalent. In a class I taught the other day, students were told to ignore negative blog posts and comments. Uh no. Negative posts are an opportunity to listen and engage.
Fear of legal repercussions: Lawyers, they always get in the way! Companies have great fear about how statements made on the blog can be viewed not only from a liability standpoint, but also from a compliance standpoint (you know, the SEC). They forget the company needs to be marketed, that consumers demand open communications from companies.
Fear of change: This more than any is the 800 lb. gorilla that social media advocates really need to start talking about. All of the other fears can be combated using case studies and examples. But no matter how many examples of collaboration and social media excellence a company is exposed to, it must still face itself.
The Big Change
Let’s not oversimplify this change. It’s simple to understand tactically, but simple is not easy. Especially when it involves shifting cultures and decades of practice. Sea changes are extremely difficult to deal with for many people. Human beings just don’t like sudden changes. They balk when the normal gets turned upside down.
Remember “Who Moved My Cheese?” Well, Spencer Johnson can make a killing off of PR agencies and marketing departments for the next few years. It’s going to be rough for some folks (image credit: photo.net).
Competition will eventually force most companies to adapt social media tools, but it’s going to take time. And we who have already adapted need to be patient.
The role of the social media savvy is not to chastise these folks, but to help them. I’ve called it evangelism, but perhaps the right word is coaching. And who hasn’t had someone coach them through a challenge? Or choose another word, navigator, pathfinder, etc. The point is we need to extend an open hand.