I’m starting to get a little peeved at independent social media consultants. To be fair, they may be just “priming the pump” to get corporations and other businesses in line with participating in social media.
“This is where it’s going!” is their cry and here’s why:
- Minimal cost to enter
- Boost Brand Awareness
- More ways to reach customers
- Increase traffic to your website
- People are expecting you to be there anyway
How can they not be using social media?!?!
Well, here’s 4 good reasons:
1. Red Tape, miles of it
Ever since the concept of a “manager” entered into the societal fabric of the nation, the relationship between a store and a customer changed from the corner general store owner to an officer with managers – then middle managers, supervisors and foremen. Decades and Decades of testing business structures and improving them designed the idea that an employee would probably never see the boss. My friend of mine recounted that he saw his boss only once during his tenure at a large manufacturer. The area the boss resided actually required a passkey to make the elevator go up that high. If you tell someone, “eh, just do away with all that and tell us what you’re up to!” you probably won’t get past the third lobby.
2. Investments in Automation
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. Direct Marketing has been practiced down to a science. Direct Mail is still done because it gives results. It’s a closely held secret on how much of a success and how much volume you must push to get the desired results, but the truth is someone somewhere is going to bite. The automation of printing, sorting and mailing highly targeted direct mail pieces has built an empire of direct mail enthusiasts who go as far as to mimic hand-written letters in the handwriting of the sender. It may sound ridiculous, but the phrase “if we can automate a personal correspondence, it will help our bottom line” makes a lot of sense to the established structure. Investments aren’t thrown away easily. I have worked in two different companies that stuck with a horrible software system because the guy who sold it to them was really good. “We spent a lot of money on this so we’re going to make it work.”
3. Fog of War
If you’ve seen the movie “Duplicity,” you probably thought “that level of deception and sneakiness doesn’t happen in real world.” Well, you will be surprised. The service company I manage web and social media for has, in one year, have had the following happen:
- 8 different occurances of people posing as potential customer ask many detailed questions, while using industry terms not commonly known to the public. When asked for personal information, they hang up. The call traced back to a cell phone or pay phone (yes there are still some around)
- A person applies for a manager position and goes through several interviews and then it’s revealed that they actually work for the competition. Their sole purpose was to find some hint of the recipe of the “secret sauce”
- The CEO feigns retirement and starts up their own business with full knowledge of marketing, sales, inventory and accounting.(Protip: Don’t let the CEO draw up non-compete agreements for the company.)
- Competitors follow employees and ask them questions posing as curious bystanders
- The logo was copied on a competitor’s website in order to confuse potential customers
All this happened to a local, non-franchised, blue-collar service provider? What happens in larger companies?
What this does is create a poker game where not much is said, not much is showed, but the watching and listening are vicious. What hand is Company A holding? What are they doing? How is it working for them? Social Media can be mis-presented as a poker game where all cards are turned over. Having the CEO or business owner blog or tweet about their thoughts about the industry is a minefield. The Dow rises and falls based on statements from companies. Don’t expect openness from a corporation just because customers expect it. Openness brings the wolves in with the sheep and the reality that there probably won’t be a corporation a year later.
4. ROI Ambiguity
This is a problem in every corporation. “What marketing action led to the sale? Repeat that marketing action, please” is the phrase I have heard multiple times already. Marketing can’t be pinned down like that and that’s why many business abandon marketing. A man sees a TV commercial, radio ad, billboard and then gets a gift card in the mail. A neighbor gives him their opinion He suddenly needs the service and uses Google (or a phone book) to find the number. Which marketing effort influenced them? While digital media is more trackable, its practice is more nebulous and doesn’t fit with item #2 above.
There are more reasons:
Whose going to do it?
Who do they report to?
Where do they get their information?
What is this an extension of? Customer Service? Marketing? Development?
How much time needs to be devoted to it?
Does that person have enough time to do it?
Why do we need to do it again?
Wow. That’s a lot to answer! The short answer to all of this is “You just need to do it.”
The how is by watching those who are doing it and doing it well or by hiring specialists who watch what works and what doesn’t. They will give you the long answer.
If you are an aspiring Social Media Specialist and want to help a business use Social Media, realize that it will be a struggle if you don’t account for some of the established mindset that made them a successful business before Social Media.