Ugh—Join a Social Site?  Despite Obvious Value, Joining Social Media Can Feel Like an Obligation

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on March 17
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benefits-social-media-marketscale.jpgWhile Social Media is Essential to Businesses, the Reluctance to Dive in Makes Sense  

Joining and marketing your business on social media site is no longer an option, but a necessity.  It’s also fun. But diving in cold turkey is hard. Watching a really good show on Netflix is also fun. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to commit to a new series... 

Now, without question, social media is crucial to business growth.  The business case for joining social media is undeniable. You’ll find all kinds of blogs urging you to develop a brand presence on social media. They usually use some version of the following argument:  Millions of people are on social media – including those who will want to buy your product or service, so why not publicize your business to them? If you’re not mastering social media, you are missing out on one of the most important business development platforms available to you.

Yet, despite exponential growth in social media usage over the past few years, our conversations with some senior decision makers reveal that there is still a reluctance to participate in social media.  It’s not that they don’t understand the value of these sites.  They have no doubt about the value of social media for business growth.

But the obvious value of social media does not preclude the well-reasoned reluctance to join.  The reluctance has more to do with concerns about the work involved: Among the many other demands of marketing and growing a business, social media can seem like yet another “thing” to deal with. The concerns involve concerns over

  1. Managing an Online Persona: Social media is fundamentally about identity: To join, is to actively broaden the scope and profile of your public persona.
  2. Time: And the work of managing that persona means yet another investment of time.
  3. Information Overload: It also means having to negotiate a whole new channel—or channels of information. We live in an era of information overload.  When we’re already inundated with media, joining a social media site is like opening up a whole new set of floodgates. 
  4. Long-Term Commitment: Most of all, joining a social site, like going to the gym, is more than a choice. It’s a commitment—it’s not just about going that one time; it’s about the long-term horizon of iteration. This reluctance makes sense to me.  I’ve got my social media habit down—the gym, not so much lately.

The word “channel” seems an apt term for social media sites: More than an option for communication, social media sites channel your intellectual and emotional energies in new directions.  They are, in a very real sense, an investment of self, a whole site of personal-social engagement. 

So joining a new site is no little thing.  And for the reasons I have just outlined above, I would advise against diving in. While I agree that social media is essential, I also believe that joining a site like LinkedIn should involve a process of gradual immersion. 

Making your first forays into any new channel can be daunting, so, as one who shares this reluctance, my advice is to begin by LISTENING before you start talking.

Right now, somebody somewhere (or possibly lots of people) is talking about you, your brand, your service or your product. You can’t stop this, so you may as well take advantage of the situation and use the chatter on social channels to provide actionable insights into the mind set of your prospects.

Some good starting points include:

1)      Monitor what’s being said about your industry

  • The way social networks are set up makes it easy to find trending topics and discover what is being said about a certain organisation, topic or individual
  • Join industry groups and forums on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+
  • Follow popular industry blogs and influential individuals.

Research the hot topics in your industry and the type of content your competitors are producing around these

2) Listen to what’s being said about your company

  • Google yourself. It’s okay, honest! Take note of what results rank highly and how these reflect on your organization
  • The people who are talking about you are worth listening to as they aren’t the ones being paid to say nice things.

3)  Discover what’s being said about your products and services

  •  How does this relate to what’s being said about those of your competitors?
  • You may not necessarily like what’s being said, but you should probably know! Only then can you take steps to change it
  • If you listen you will understand the difference between perception and reality – and this is what will make the real difference to your business. 

If you are still reluctant, remember that social media is a communication tool.  And while it allows you to broadcast your message, it is more fundamentally about conversations. It’s about questions and answers. Your customers are asking:   “How do I…?” “What’s the best xxx ?” “Where can I find ABC?” And if you’re the one with the answers to these questions, you’ll be well set to benefit from engaging with your prospects and taking advantage of the wide reach of these channels.

Social Media Provide

  •  A communications tool with unparalleled reach
  •  The ability to market yourself to prospects 24 hours per day
  •  The potential for an instant customer service platform
  •  Intelligence on the sentiment of your target audience
  •  Key information on competitors

Business hasn’t changed, but the way it’s carried out online has. There are thousands of social media conversations going on right now. And while you can live without participating, it’s likely to have a major impact on how much money you’ll make. And given that your competitors are already bound to be jumping on the bandwagon – can you really afford to miss out?

That said, we are very well aware that not everyone has the time and resources to invest in social media marketing campaigns, but fortunately, working with a firm provides a very useful and accessible option—nudge!  

So if you’re interested in capitalizing on the opportunities presented by social, or simply want to improve your online marketing strategy – why not check out our digital social selling services or get in touch?

B2B Social Selling 

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Topics: B2B Marketing, B2B Content, Content Strategy, Social Media Marketing, B2B Social Selling, Social Selling

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