Conquering Your Fears of Social Media

There’s a lot of reasons people and organizations are afraid to engage in social media.  And while some of these reasons may be justified, none of them are impossible to overcome.  Coming to terms with these fears and setting realistic goals that minimize potential risks isn’t a bad place to start.  But the truth is: there’s actually more to lose by NOT participating in social media.  So what are you waiting for?  Let’s get started:

Fear:  I have no idea where/how to start!

This might be the most common excuse preventing businesses from beginning a social media campaign.  They “lack the expertise” and become so intimidated by the idea of engaging with people online, that they never try.  I have news for these people: there’s no such thing as a social media “expert”.  Sure, there’s a learning curve to the various tools and services out there, and there’s a few things you should know about networking online before you dive right in, but these things shouldn’t stop you altogether.   You have to start somewhere…

So where should you start?  Start by claiming your user name and/or brand by setting up accounts in the most popular social media services.  There’s no excuse not to (at least) do this part.  While you’re doing this, learn a bit about each of the services and how they might be able to help you reach your ultimate business and/or personal goals.  By doing this, you’ll start to gain a better understanding of the social media world, and you’ll be one step closer to developing a clear plan of how you can accomplish your goals.

Fear: I don’t have the time or money!

This is a lousy excuse.  Social media campaigns can be extremely time consuming and/or very expensive.  But how much time or money you spend is entirely up to you!  While I hesitate to say that social media is free (time is money), you don’t need to break the bank or devote all of your time to your campaign.

  • Start out small. Devoting just a few minutes a day could be enough to get you started.  After long, you’ll start to understand how each service works and (ideally) realize that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
  • Set simple, specific, and achievable short term goals. It could be something as simple as “Follow 10 people in my industry per day”.  Doing this will help give your actions focus and also help to manage the time you spend networking.
  • Optimize your time. Take advantage of automation and consolidation tools to help make the most of the time you spend on your campaign.  DISCLAIMER: Don’t abuse these tools or you may risk devaluing the work you’ve done networking. (automated bots = spam)

Fear: I don’t want to encourage negativity towards my brand!

This fear is all about attitude.  Having a social media presence and monitoring what people say about your brand is an unprecedented opportunity for you to take an active role in that conversation.  A conversation that is (likely) taking place with or without you.  Yes, if your company sucks, social media can’t save you.  But if your products and services still offer value, then you can do one of two things about your critics:  Ignore them and hope they go away OR show them (and everyone else who notices) that you care about making your customers happy.

Fear: Social Media is a waste of time…where’s the ROI?

Social media can be a waste of time if you don’t find a way to calculate ROI. <<

Setting up certain social media metrics can be simple.  But the number of twitter followers you gained last month does not necessarily reflect the effect it might have had on your bottom line.  Regardless of how you’re using social media, you need to understand how it’s effecting your end goal in order to make future adjustments and to ensure the investment of time, resources, and/or money is yielding a positive return.  There are two ways to accomplish this:

  • Set up direct ROI statistics (i.e. analytics conversion funnels)
  • Compare time lines of direct financial impact (i.e. changes in sales over time, changes in customer retention over time, etc.) to social media statistics (i.e. website traffic, twitter followers, positive brand mentions, etc.) and look for correlations.

Fear: Social Media invites an invasion of privacy!

Privacy has become one of the biggest concerns for individuals with regards social media (not so much brands or companies).  As if creating a facebook profile will instantly invite cyber-stalkers, (or even worse) employers to spy on everything you do in your personal life.  While this fear isn’t completely irrational, there’s some very simple concepts people who hold this fear should know:

  • You control the content – if you wouldn’t say it in public, then don’t say it online!
  • Privacy controls may be confusing, but they are there to help control who sees your content… learn how they work.
  • Nothing you do online is ever 100% anonymous or private.

Just remember, in every case of a user’s online activity getting them into trouble IRL, it’s not the social media account itself that did the harm;  it’s the fact that they published something illegal, inappropriate, or private to the account without regards of the consequences.

What’s preventing you or your business from joining the conversation?