by Priya Ramesh
I have been spending a lot of time trying to become a trust agent for our clients venturing into the unknown territory of social media. Kudos to you for taking the risk of the unknown, and trying to give social media a fair chance. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
It doesn’t matter how much we repeatedly hear about the Scott Montys, the Shashi Bellamkondas and the Amber Naslunds sharing their success with social media and taking their respective brands to new heights, when it comes to YOU being held accountable for your company’s entry into social media, I can see that big question in your head. Hopefully this post will alleviate some of that unwanted stress.
After spending the last five months sitting through series of social media strategy meetings for a variety of verticals, I pretty much sum up the main causes to social media apprehension as follows:
i) Fear of having to respond now: Yes, it’s not a monologue anymore once you launch a blog or start a Facebook fan page. If you want to be liked as a brand/company/cause, you got to be able to engage in meaningful conversations and by that I mean if someone were to ask you some tough questions, you have to be ready to respond. Successful social media programs are those that believe in a prompt and proactive response to comments and tweets. Take the example of @netsolcares that has earned the reputation of effectively using Twitter to respond to customer issues within 24 hours. What did Network Solutions get out of putting that effort into “response” and creating a “dialogue” with its customers-increased customer satisfaction. That’s not bad, eh?
ii) Fear of losing control over the messaging: I don’t blame the anxiety a well recognized brand name has while venturing into social media, because now your messaging starts to lose its black and white color code. I am not saying you renounce all sense of ownership over how you shape public perception, but the key is to be open to the flow of messages from the other end of the channel. Isn’t the end goal to be embraced by your community for who you are and how you improve their lives versus being the fastest, most scalable and high performance driven company in the world? Besides, organizations that don’t try to define their course of interaction on social networks and are open to “listening” have benefitted from the customer feedback they directly receive via social media!
iii) Fear of potential negative impact: One thing that is both a boon and a bane for social media users is that you will know almost instantly if your campaign is a hit or a flop. The Johnson & Johnson Motrin campaign is a good example of how social media can bring down your messaging in just over a weekend. Two days after the campaign was launched, J&J was forced to withdraw their ad campaign, thanks to the powerful voice of mommy bloggers on Twitter.
So what’s the worst thing that can happen by embracing social media? You put your brand reputation on the line and you start hearing back. Well, in my mind you just successfully crossed the first milestone in social media success, you asked the right questions and now your audience is telling you what they think of you! Negative feedback actually helps you in the long run. It’s time to take that feedback and revisit your marketing strategy. But in the meantime, you have established a connection with people who truly care about your product/service. That’s why they gave you honest feedback, you are now a lot closer to them in winning their trust and loyalty.
I look forward to hearing more from communications pros who have overcome the fear of social media and what helped them start appreciating the numerous benefits this rapidly growing trend has to offer. Who knows your experience might help me in my conversations with the new adopters of social media!