1. Someone says, “What if we look online and people are saying bad things?”
This is one I’ve never understood. If they’re saying bad things about you, don’t you want to know? It’s like choosing to have someone talk behind your back instead of communicating issues face-to-face. Maybe the “talk behind your back” thing seems like ignorant bliss but ignorance has never been a good way to run a business. Instead, get online and search for what people are saying about you, good, bad or otherwise. Learn about your customers’ issues and help them solve problems. Sometimes, all they’re looking for is someone to notice them. The point is, this is easiest and cheapest market research you’ll ever receive. Plus, it’s extra fun when you have such a loyal following that happy customers come to your defense when unhappy customers have something to criticize or complain about (true story!)
2. Someone else says, “We already have Facebook AND Twitter, we don’t need anything else.”
This is a real tongue-biter for me (as in I have to bite my tongue to keep from shrieking about how untrue it is). First and foremost, let’s be clear that these are social networking sites and while they’re great, they’re not the entirety of social media. Social Networking sites are those that allow you to connect with people you know, or at least know of. This is great, but what about connecting with the hundreds of thousands of people out there who don’t know about your company? These people make up your target market and when you start to connect with them, they become customers. Go out right now and visit Quora, Squidoo, Flikr, Digg, Delicious and some blogs (like this one!). They may not all be right for you, but you should at least be aware that they exist.
3. Yet another person says, “My audience doesn’t use social media.”
I disagree. Everybody’s audience uses social media. Everybody’s. This means everybody can do social media marketing. Everybody. There are forums for knitters, there are Flickr groups for senior mountain climbers and there fan pages for under-water basket weavers (you get the idea). There are always, always people in your audience who are using social media – see above if you think that checking Facebook and Twitter will cover it. If you still refuse to believe that there are no people in your target market using any form of social media, then perhaps you should be a pioneer for this industry and start creating content that will encourage people online to become a part of your target market.
4. People don’t understand the process.
This is a tricky one, so in the most basic terms the process is Build, Brand, Engage. Start by building your online presence. Actually create and fill your profile across a variety of social sites. Fill in every Bio, About Me, Contact, Website and Summary section you can find, and then add even more meaningful content wherever the site allows. Secondly, you should start to focus on your brand. Keep your imaging consistent across all platforms and establish rules internally that help you decide what content to produce and how you’ll handle your audience’s response. Finally, it’s time to engage. Don’t think that just because you launched a couple of profiles, you’re set for life. You’re not. Read this about What Social Media Is Not if you don’t believe me. Continue to provide information and respond when your following comments or asks questions. Do this consistently even if you feel like you’re talking to yourself for a while.
5. There’s no plan and no one’s in charge.
Of course this is a recipe for disaster (or at least challenges). Just like everything you do in your business, you should determine which person or people should be at the top of your social media empire. These people should have the time and willingness to research and interact, and they should be knowledgeable enough about the company to provide relevant information. Create a schedule and stick to it, even if it’s just a little bit at first. It’s like saving money – every little bit counts.