10 Reasons You Should Run Like Hell From Social Media

April 5, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Social Media

I was sitting at brunch a few weeks ago trying to convince a colleague why it’s so important for today’s CEO to be involved and active in social media. I was trying to sway him on the benefits, the rewards and all the new opportunities that await the socially savvy-CEO. I thought I was doing a pretty good job until my friend took a bite into his bagel, looked me in the eye and quipped, “…but that’s only if he’s smart enough to ‘get it’.  Otherwise, he’s a liability.”

He was right.

Though nearly every business, regardless of niche, could find value engaging in social media, that doesn’t mean it’s meant for everyone. Should YOUR company get involved in social media? Maybe…but maybe not.

Here are 10 signs your company isn’t suited for social media.

1. You have no social skills (and don’t want to fake them) : This social media thing is about people. That means if you can’t DEAL with people and didn’t have friends as a child, then perhaps its best you stay away from it. Because, really, the only thing worse than not having a social media presence is when your presence is used as a case study for why companies shouldn’t have one. If talking to people gives you hives, hire someone to handle your social media services for you. Those little people you hate (read: customers) will thank you.

2. You have no sense of humor/can’t handle criticism: This is the Internet. If you can’t laugh at yourself or others, then you don’t belong on it. So many times success in social media means being able to embrace and leverage what is weird and quirky about you and run with it. It’s about being able to hop in and laugh with the people laughing AT you, get them on your side and move it to something good. If you don’t possess a sense of humor and can’t deal with criticism, then you may not want to swim in these waters. Companies that take themselves too seriously are written off as the dweebs of the Internet and will be virtually stuffed in lockers. It’s also a long way down when you fall off that high horse.

3. You’re going to forget about it in the morning: Some businesses are simply adorable. Social media for them means creating that blog or Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn account and then sitting back with a Corona (see how silly they are?) while they wait for the leads, traffic and conversations to pour in. Yeah, sadly social media doesn’t come with a side of magic beans. In order to see a return you need to track it and tend to it like any other marketing strategy. If you’re not going to take the time to create your marketing plan and dedicate real resources to it, then don’t even waste the time setting up your accounts. Go invest in something else. “Dabbling” in social media will get you “dabbling”-type of results.

4. Openness is a problem for you: It’s not about being ‘authentic’ or ‘transparent’ it’s about bringing something to the table. The companies that do well here are the ones that not only open the curtain but who put something special on stage – be it content, conversation, media, etc. Before you get involved, figure out how you’re going to use these new platforms and how it will fit into your organization. Don’t hire someone to blog as your CEO or use Twitter to push your RSS feed. That’s not being open. That’s using social media tools to BE a tool. You’re missing the point.

5. You’re only there to sell: Hey, we’re all in social media to improve our bottom line, but you can’t sell to people without wooing them and creating relationships with them first. That means listening before speaking. You have to hear what’s being said about your company, your brand and what you offer. You have to hear what people want and then find a way to give it to them before you ever ask for anything in return. Targeting marketing to friends is tolerated. Shouting your message to a crowded room of strangers is not.

6. You view social media as a numbers game: Similar to the above, you look at social media as a sheer numbers game. You need 5,000 Twitter followers, 10,000 Facebook fans and enough RSS subscribers to rival even the biggest A-listers. Of course, you don’t know WHY you need them or who the people are that you’re looking to attract. You just want to pad your accounts to make yourself look like you know what you’re doing. You’re probably also the type of person who just purchased an iPad this weekend even though you have no idea what it does.  People like you annoy everyone.

7. You’re inclined to call people’s wives ‘douchettes’: The same way the President shouldn’t call someone stupid, the CEO of your company shouldn’t call someone’s wife a douchette. You’d think this stuff was common sense, but it’s really not. If you’re the type to engage in personal attacks or (unscripted) pissing contests, I’d probably back away from the Twitter account.  There’s leading people to a cliff and then there’s creating an audience for yourself as you hurl yourself off it to your death.

8. You think Twitter is a social media strategy: Twitter is a social media tool. So is Facebook. So is blogging. That means you need to have a strategy about how you’re going to use them. One that includes a little more than “Set up a Twitter account”. You don’t buy a hammer and expect the house to come with it. You create a blueprint, allocate the other resources you’ll need for the job, and you spend the time to build out what you’re looking for, based on noted specifications. You should be looking at your social media efforts the same way. Social media isn’t Twitter. It’s what you can use Twitter to accomplish.

9. You don’t have a ‘social’ culture: There are some instances where creating an engaged social media following probably just isn’t going to happen. If you’re the type of company that will have to run everything three times through legal or will take the PC-approach to everything so you don’t make waves, social media may not be your most profitable option. Is it doable? Yes. But if you’re going to sit on the fence and play the safe card your whole life, no one’s going to care.  We care about brands that are interesting or that move us. You’re not going to inspire anyone if you’re too afraid to be yourself and fight the battles that matter.

10. You don’t have permission: I’m just going to throw this in here. If you’re an employee who has been told NOT to engage but you think you “know better” and that you’ll be able to convince your higher ups once they can “see results”, well, I hope you have a backup job secured. Because you’re going to get fired.  Use outside sources for your case studies, not your own secret squirrel social media missions.

Those are some of the most common reasons I’ve seen for businesses that shouldn’t just avoid social media altogether.  What have I missed?

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