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Gini Dietrich

Six Reasons Social Media Doesn’t Work

By: Gini Dietrich | October 25, 2011 | 
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When I speak, I tend to hear the same excuses as to why company leaders aren’t approving the use of the web for business development.

It’s like my own private joke when I ask them to put their baggage on the table and they say things they think no one else has ever said.

But my ultimate favorite? “My customer doesn’t use the Internet.”

Yes, it’s true. In 2011 there is always one person who says their customer doesn’t use the web. It always makes me snicker to myself when I hear it because more than 80 percent of Americans are online.

But there are six other reasons business leaders admit for not using the web.

Fun and Games

Three years ago, when I started the speaking circuit, the excuse always was that the only thing the web affords us is fun and games. Add social media to it and it’s only for the kids. While most business leaders now understand technology is fundamentally changing the way we communicate, they still think it’s for the kids…and something they don’t need to worry about because it won’t affect the business world until long after they’ve retired.

Lack of Control

Lack of control is always one of the first things I hear. But the fact of the matter is, you never had control of what employees, customers, and other stakeholders have said about you, your company, or your products/services.  People have always had negative things to say. The difference is now you know when they’re saying something bad…and you can do something about it by listening and monitoring the online conversation.

Fear of Change

It’s true most of us won’t change unless we’re forced to do so through a crisis. Even though we like new things, we’re fearful of doing things differently. Time and time again I hear, “But this is the way we’ve always done things” in the same sentence as, “I don’t know why we’re not growing.” Perhaps it’s because you’re doing things the way you’ve always done them.

Don’t Have Time

We all only have 24 hours in our days and we all seem to be doing more with less. So business leaders, rightfully so, admit they just have time. But the thing about technology is it makes us even more efficient. Just like brushing your teeth or playing golf, if it’s something you really want to do, you’ll find the time.

Liability

Many business leaders are afraid employees will say or do something online that affects the company. For instance, they might tweet proprietary information or Facebook with a competitor. If you don’t have a digital policy, create one. Just like your employee code of conduct for answering the phone, sending email, and attending trade shows, if expectations are set for how people are to behave online, they’ll follow them.

Return-On-Investment

This is probably the hardest one to explain because there are many “experts” claiming the ROI is return-on-influence or engagement. And, when business leaders hear that, they know it’s horse hockey. Social media is more often than not, not measurable in the dollars and cents way of the word. But digital efforts ARE measurable to revenue and gross margins. If you’re looking for help in determining the ROI, find an expert who can talk to you in dollars and cents with an integrated marketing communication focus. It’s possible and it works.

What about you? What are the best excuses you’ve heard?

This first ran as my weekly Crain’s column.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

148 comments
trk387
trk387

Hello. I saw this and thought what the hell. I USE social media for everything and NO ONE sees anything I do. Now I don't really understand this at all. I tweet (and if you saw the things I tweet you would be amazed no media has called me) I youtube, I facebook, I instagram, blog, etc. Now my facebook page is non existent. I have over 100 friends NONE say a word to me. I have 380 followers on Twitter, NONE say a word to me, 326 Subs on Youtube, NONE say a word to me. I create petitions you know what signatures I get? Yup NONE! i see all these other people utilizing social media, they post a picture on facebook and the WHOLE world sees it! I post pics on facebook and no one sees it. I sometimes think that if I killed myself and placed it on social media I would die in vain as no one would ever see it. lol 

So if anyone can offer any tips? I would appreciate it! 


trk387

CoreyTournet
CoreyTournet

Because many companies lose money doing social media. The way most arrangements are set up, 100% of the risk is on the company and not the company performing the social media marketing. You are only seeing this from the point of view of the SMO service provider, so it's easy to say all businesses should do SMO and their logic is somehow faulty if they don't. But if you assumed some or part of the risk it would be a different story. For example, how many of you would be interested in doing a social media revenue share with us?

MichAndrWest
MichAndrWest

@fondalo blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

lauraclick
lauraclick

OK - I'm noticing that on some people's posts, it's pulling in their most recent blog post. Does @livefyre now integrate with CommentLuv???

lauraclick
lauraclick

Love this post, Gini! I've spoke to three different groups this month, one of which was a very hostile audience against social media. One in particular (who was older and kept calling it "the tweeters") was so frustrated about it all and just wanted it to go away. He wondered why they even needed to worry about it in the first place. Your point about it not being relevant until AFTER they retire is spot on.

Someone in the subsequent session I spoke to I think said it best - we like to be in charge, but we can't always be in control. For folks in leadership positions, that can often be a scary proposition. I think fear is the underlying reason many don't move forward - fear of lack of control, fear it will be a waste of time, fear it won't impact their bottom line (or will have a negative impact).

It's one thing to make a conscious, educated decision not to engage in social media or the web, it's another to make up a bunch of rubbish and stick your head in the sand hoping it will go away.

kehutchinson
kehutchinson

Ah, Fear Of Change. I work in domain names, and currently, everyone is up in arms over the coming new gTLDs (i.e. dot anything vs dot com). I have heard so many arguments from people who don't want them: we don't need them, they're different, people won't learn how to use them, they won't affect the value of a dot com.... and it all boils down to Fear Of Change. It happens everywhere. Next week, can you talk about how to get people over the Fear Of Change?

BethMosher
BethMosher

Sigh. I've heard all these before. But, I have this new one to add that I also get from my too scared/unengaged/needtobeincontrolexecs: my company is geographically dispersed and I am only responsible for the pr/promotion in a certain geographic area. Other franchises (for lack of a better term) are responsible for promo in their areas. So, they reason that promoting through social media promotes outside our geographic area. Umm...so does our Web site. And that Chicago Tribune article that was posted online - also outside our area. That seems to fall on deaf ears. My frustration with this is I guess tempered by your experience in dealing with this all the time. We're not the only ones!

Harald_Nick
Harald_Nick

I can't tell you how often I've been confronted with a mixture of all the 6 reasons you mention, Gini!

After having read the whole conversation here and many posts from you and others on that topic, I agree with Des Walsh (who points it out so rightly in his post

http://www.customerthink.com/comment/reply/269704 ): social media resistant bosses or decision makers get even more angry - in my view no matter what age - when you point to research or best practices that show the rapid growth, usage and success companies have by doing business within social networks, the social web, social media or 'the web', how industry leaders, specialists, customers, clients and journalists both young and old are profiting from the tools and platforms within the social web. As Des sums up: "So it's not about the facts - it's about emotion".

In my view it all comes down to - fear: fear of having missed out a development that startet 20 years ago, fear of having to catch up with something they neglected all those years, fear of the changes that result from diving into or continuously having to care about 'that social media thing'. What they feel or already know is that social media - if done right - changes everything. And CHANGE is a management issue, which means it's their job to start the change from the top, and maybe in many different areas of the company, not just in the marketing or public relations department.

We have to face this decision makers' basic attitude of fear and find good points and reasons to make them accept or convince them that change is nothing to be afraid of but opens up many many new opportunities - as you, Gini, are constantly pointing out!

HerzogIND
HerzogIND

@ginidietrich Do you still finding yourself having to convince execs about PR/SM and digital media?

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Hi just thought I would leave another comment just to boost the number count. Plus I need to ensure I leave more comments than @bdorman264

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

Sigh! Let's see, we get the same as @janbeery "the we don't want our competitors to know". We get the why would I be social on line when I can be social at the local Chamber Mixer!!@$#@#$!

We get, I am in the phone book or have a website that is 25 years old, my business hasnt changed so I dont need to adjust.

My favorite is I am a "small, local business. I dont want to take tax dollars out of my community so I dont want to do social media or increase my web presence". (These are the people who really are just afraid of loosing customers to online competitors.

lauraclick
lauraclick

Oooh! Just realized I forgot to add one of the other excuses I heard. Strangely, it seems a lot of tech people are anti-social media. One of the conferences I spoke at was a tech conference and I heard all about how social media (Facebook, in particular) causes all sorts of security problems from people downloading apps and getting infected with viruses. I also hear a lot about bandwidth issues, especially when it comes to videos.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@Harald_Nick It's about emotion. That is so true. And change is about doing things differently than they've always done them. It's interesting business leaders are still so resistant to change, especially in light of the economy and what the U.S. workforce has gone through in the past three years. But some still don't want to do anything differently than what has always worked for them in the past...even if it's no longer working.

vincenturamos
vincenturamos

@spurdave Spot on post, so the thanks are to you for sharing. And yes, here's to games six and seven!

bdorman264
bdorman264

@HowieG Get a job................and don't get me started..............:).

lauraclick
lauraclick

@LFJeremy@livefyre This is VERY cool. I really like this functionality and have been wondering if any of the commenting platforms were going to address this. I have @disqus now and they don't have this ability yet. Might be time to consider a switch.

I have LinkBack activated on my profile, but I'm not seeing it on my comments. Do I need to do something else?

lauraclick
lauraclick

@LFJeremy Ah. Aren't you guys sneaky?!? (Or really smart). Way to entice people to get on board! I'll let you know if I decide to make the switch.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@belllindsay I'm pretty sure popularity has nothing to do with it. But not using your server appropriately...

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