Six Reasons Companies Are Still Scared of Social Media


Yes, These Fears Still Really Exist

Whether it’s time-wasting employees or worrying that haters will damage your brand, many corporations still fear the effects of engaging in social media.

Employees will waste time with social media.
Many large corporations block their employees from accessing the internet altogether. Others try to block employees from accessing personal e-mail or social networks such as Facebook during work hours.

In May 2009, according to eMarketer, there were 29 million smartphones in the U.S. That’s a lot of internet access available to workers everywhere — and employers can’t stop them from accessing the internet on breaks, at lunch, in the bathroom, you name it.

The value to workers of having internet access — in terms of research, communication and speed — is far greater than the threat of lost productivity. Companies have a right to make policies and rules about personal use of the internet, but blocking it during work is just stupid.

Haters will damage our brand.
„What about the haters?“ is the first question that comes up at my corporate and conference social-media workshops. „What if people say bad, mean, nasty things about our brand?“

Well, there may be things you need to change about your brand, and in that case, you should thank them for letting you know what they are. Then you should make changes.

If you have built an online community that includes people who don’t hate you, that community will rise to your defense and they will handle the problem for you.

We’ll lose control of the brand.
Listen up: Every person with a computer and even a tiny skill level has the tools to make their opinion about your brand heard by other people. They’re already talking about you.

Message control is an illusion. Give it up.

Your workers are talking about you in closed Facebook groups designed to keep you out so they can talk about you in peace. Your customers are e-mailing, using Twitter and Facebook, and — that old standby — calling their friends about their experience with your brand. You don’t have control. You might as well join the conversation. At least that way you can influence what is being said.

Social media requires a real budget. It’s not really cheap, or free.
While many social media tools are free, knowing how to use them takes experience and perspective.

The boss‘ friend’s high school or college kid can’t integrate social media into the company’s overall marketing. That requires experience and perspective. Having a large social network and a stellar online reputation helps too.

Just as there are carpenters who can knock together a bookshelf and master carpenters who can create objects of genuine and lasting beauty, there are thousands of social-media gurus (of all ages) who’ve never worked for an actual client. Hire them at your own peril.

Geoff Livingston said it beautifully in a recent post:
„Parroting and/or reporting what you see on the Internet does not equate to actual savoir faire. Nor does it make someone fit to offer insights or counsel.“

We’re scared we’ll be sued.
Oh puh-lese. Next!

we’re scared of giving away corporate secrets or that information on social networks will affect our stock price.
If you don’t already have a social-media policy, you need to create one.

If you don’t trust your employees to talk to customers, or to represent the brand, you need to look at 1) your hiring practices, 2) your training practices.

B.L. Ochman

Posted by B.L. Ochman on 09.24.09 @ 10:07 AM
B.L. Ochman is a marketing strategist and blogger and can be found Twittering, at or with her newest venture,

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