I don’t believe in Social Media

Or how to talk to Small Businesses who don’t ‘get it’

When I talk to MDs and senior managers of small businesses about Social Media I hear this opinion a lot. It reminds me of the scene from Peter Pan where Peter explains what happens when children stop believing in fairies:

Every time a child says, “I don’t believe in fairies,” there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.

But unlike children not believing in fairies; senior managers not believing in Social Media won’t make it go away (no platform drops down dead). It’s here. And it’s here to stay.

When they say they don’t believe in Social Media, it actually means that they don’t understand it. They may see their kids on Snapchat, or their partners on Facebook – and perhaps believe that Social Media is more about Harry Styles’s love life, or the latest gaffe from a professional footballer. They often don’t see its relevance or value to their business.

The four common objections I hear to establishing a strategic Social Media campaign are:

  1. I don’t understand Social Media.
  2. How will we handle negative comments?
  3. We’ve managed so far without it – thank you very much.
  4. We haven’t got the resource and I don’t have time to sit on Twitter all day – I’ve got a job to do!

So, how do we counter that?

I don’t understand Social Media

To counter this objection, I point out that their clients and potential customers do understand Social Media; they do ‘get it’ –  so they need to keep up. Take for instance, the sector I operate in; building and construction. Although many building products companies still produce paper catalogues, the days of architects holding libraries of supplier literature are long gone.

Architects are typically ‘early adopters’ and are all over Social Media like a rash – Twitter in particular. Su Butcher – perhaps one of the leading experts on Social Media in the construction industry – often quotes research showing that 44% of architects are using Twitter for work. Not – as Su points out – using it at work to check out the latest gossip on the Kardashians’ love lives; they are using it for professional reasons; and using it well.

How will we handle negative comments?

Any company worth its salt will handle negative comments on Social Media in the same way it handles any complaints – quickly, openly, honestly, and with integrity. We all know that it’s rarely the problem or complaint that causes long term damage with a customer; it’s the way it’s handled. Manage a complaint well online and all the world can see just what an open, honest, and customer-focused organisation you are.

I’ve managed so far without it

True. But think of it this way; Social Media is only a different platform for doing things that businesses are already doing – but one that must be exploited to its full potential nonetheless:

·         Building a brand and getting it in front of the right people (current PR work);

·         Searching for and engaging with potential customers (currently sales/prospecting work);

·         Engaging with existing contacts (customer service tasks);

·         Driving traffic to a business web site (marketing activities).

We don’t have the resources or the time

For time and resource management of a social media campaign, I offer the following advice:

Hire a freelancer.  Use a reputable freelancer (one who understands your industry) to do the initial ‘grunt work’ and ‘set up’ for you.  It’s rarely cost efficient (value adding) to retain tasks such as this in-house (yes, yes – I know I would say that!).

Managing Social Media Campaigns are not overly time-consuming. In the long term, running a well-established Social Media campaign shouldn’t take long; 15-minutes a day – with slightly more chunks of time required to fine-tune strategy, generate content, and manage your accounts – providing there is a solid and workable Social Media strategy to underpin it (that your freelancer will have done for you).

A well-structured Social Media campaign can provide SMEs with an excellent ROI – and that usually makes even the most hardened cynic sit up and take notice! But that’s the subject of a whole new article…

So, to paraphrase JM Barrie again: do you believe in social media?

How would you encourage business owners to engage with Social Media?  Let everyone know in the comments section below.

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Andy paddock February 19, 2016

I’d be inclined to offer them proof (for free) using their existing analytics setup to monitor a few updates posted on social media.

I’ve always found that people who don’t believe in fairies would jump from a cliff if they saw a big pie chart that told them they would survive.

the furious engineer February 22, 2016

Good point, Andy – we all fear pie charts!


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