We’ve all seen the studies and have heard the hype. Social media is taking over the world and every company will have to have a full-blown social media strategy by 2011 (originally it was 2008, then 2009, then 2010…), or they will be obsolete and left behind.
Give me a break.
Right now CEOs and business owners all across the country, no all across the world, are wringing their hands about social media. Because they don’t understand it, but are being bombarded with messages that claim they HAVE to understand it in order to succeed in the future. These are people that like carefully crafted plans with predictable outcomes, yet we are telling them to get moving NOW with a set of tools that are completely new to them. AND on top of that, we are telling them to use these completely new (to them) tools to do something that they likely aren’t comfortable doing; communicating directly with their customers.
So the end result is that we are scaring these companies into standing still. They want to wait until they can use social media on terms that they are comfortable with. Or many are thinking/hoping that social media is ‘all a fad’ and will ‘go away’ if they wait long enough.
To these companies, I apologize. It’s unfair for us to ask you to dive headlong into social media like this. We are asking you to run, no to sprint, before you can walk.
Here’s the deal; Yes, social media is a big deal. Yes, you need to be aware of how/if your customers are using social tools to connect online and share ideas. No, you probably won’t be out of business in 12 months if you keep ignoring social media.
So instead of worrying about how you can go from 0-60 in under 4 seconds, let’s do something different. Let’s make a deal: I agree not to push you to jump into social media full speed ahead without any idea/plan other than ‘just do it!” And you agree to go at your own pace, BUT….to keep moving forward.
That doesn’t mean that we’ll have a blog up and running for your company in a week. But what that does mean is that you’ll need to start making yourself familiar with social media, and how your customers are using these tools. Start monitoring social media for company mentions, something as simple as Google Blog Search can help here. See who is talking about you. See who is talking about your competitors. See what they are saying, and notice the tools they are using.
The bottom line is, learn at your own pace. If it takes you six weeks or six months to start to grasp what social media is about, that’s ok. If you have a boss that’s skeptical about social media, or know someone that owns a business that’s worried about social media, please share this post with them.
Moving forward is what counts, and it definitely beats being too scared to move.
Pic via Flickr user Bouzafr