12 most feeble excuses leaders give to shun social media

If your boss frequently rebuffs you with “we can’t afford social media” or “our customers don’t use it,” point him to this article.

Thankfully more folks with corner offices are starting to understand that savvy social media use can boost a company’s bottom line. Plenty of leaders, though, aren’t yet convinced.

Here are the most common justifications companies or nonprofits give for shunning social media—and the reasons they’re all hooey. Feel free to leave a print out of this article where your boss will see it.

1. “We can’t control it.”

Oh, so you’re saying can control what the local or national media say about you? Can you control the things your customers say about you?

Be certain about this, Mr. or Ms. CEO: Your customers are spouting off on Yelp, Twitter, Foursquare and elsewhere whether you are there to respond or not. It’s better to be aware of and able to respond to social chatter that’s already happening about your brand. That’s something you can control.

2. “We can’t afford it.”

Social media is amazingly cost effective. The tools and technology available allow companies to connect directly with their customers on a broad scale. This was impossible when marketing required companies to rely on a third party, such as a journalist, ad agency, billboard or other media outlet, to reach customers.

What companies can’t afford is to have no social media presence, or one that isn’t guided and executed skillfully to meet business objectives.

3. “It’s a fad.”

Is customer service a fad? What about marketing, sales, relationships or conversations? Social media enables and encompasses all of these and more.

4. “It’s not where our customers are.”

Without the analytics social media provide, how do you know? How many of your customers read your direct mail piece? How many of your customers saw your commercial? Take a look at this research from the Pew Research Center.

5. “We’ll just stick with PR and advertising.”

For starters, shaping and executing a smart social media strategy doesn’t mean you ignore public relations or advertising. PR and ads are clearly exceptional tools. (Not to mention, they happen through social media now.)

Social media is a multi-tasking machine for brands and other organizations. Any attempt to connect with the public that doesn’t include social media ignores some of the most powerful communication tools available.

6. “Show me the ROI.”

It has never been possible to calculate a precise return on investment in communications. That was as true in the Mad Men era as it is today. However, the analytics and technological insight that electronic communication and Internet-based marketing offer are incredible. It is through the interactive tools of social media that you can glean information about how visitors found you, where they came from, how long they stayed and what they peeked at while they were there.

Try to get that kind of information from a billboard or newspaper ad. How’s that for a return?

7. “Legal doesn’t like it.”

With apologies to my lawyer friends, members of the legal department are paid to not like things and expect the worst. That’s why products have warnings that are, in some cases, ridiculous.

For example, the tag on my hair dryer admonishes me to not use it during sleep. The notice on my packet of roasted almonds warns me that the product was prepared in a facility that processes tree nuts. You get the idea.

Anyway, if lawyers call all of the shots on your customer service and marketing, you have bigger problems than what this article can address.

8. “It will leave us vulnerable.”

Not having a well-planned and well-tended presence on social media leaves you far more vulnerable—and far less in touch with your audience.

9. “If it ain’t broke …”

If your business is not taking advantage of the countless ways social media can turbocharge marketing, sales, customer service, research and development, etc., one thing is clear: It’s broken, all right.

10. “Our market is local or has a limited geography.”

This excuse limits potential growth. But even if a local company has no intention to expand or grow, not using social media prevents it from adequately serving the existing audience.

My local pizza place offers discounts to customers who check in on Foursquare. My favorite sandwich shop tweets specials and the soup of the day. As a result, I’m more likely to go to these places and keep them at the top of my list.

11. “It’s too big (or hard or confusing).”

Call in some help. Businesses often use consultants for projects. If social media strategy feels overwhelming, call in an agency or professional whose work, referrals and real-life social media trail back up their claims.

12. “It clashes with our culture.”

Unless the culture is to avoid communicating with, attracting and keeping customers, then this excuse makes no sense.

An effective social media presence takes resources, but so do IT, human resources and other essential components of running successful operation. Well-designed, well-implemented and well-tended social media is not only essential, it opens up incredible opportunities that can’t exist—or thrive as successfully—through other means.

Becky Gaylord worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C., Cleveland and Sydney before she launched the consulting practice Gaylord LLC. This article is republished with permission, courtesy of 12 Most.

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