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By B.L. Ochman
hugh-SM_Specialist.jpgAs it becomes clear (at last!) that message control is dead, corporations in every industry are scrambling to learn about social media so they can incorporate it into their marketing mix. Fear and misconception abound. Here are the top four issues companies cite, debunked.
1. 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 email or social networks like Facebook during work hours.
By Christmas 2011, according to Nielsen, one in every two Americans will have a smart phone
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 of workers of having Internet access – in terms of research, communication, and speed – is far greater than the threat of lost productivity. Companies like Best Buy, Comcast, Dell and many others have increased not only customer satisfaction, but also sales, by having hundreds, and even thousands, of employees monitoring and resolving complaints and issues in social media.
Companies have a right to make policies and rules about personal use of the Internet, but blocking it during work just doesn’t make sense.
2. Haters will damage our brand.
“What about the haters?” is the first question that comes up at corporate meetings. “What if people say bad, mean, nasty things about our brand?”
My more than 14 years of experience helping companies navigate emerging media indicates that the community takes note of who the obvious crazies and haters are, points them out, and then proceeds to negate and ignore them.
And besides, complaints may very well mean that there may be things you need to change about your brand. 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.
Bonus Link: Starbucks Social Media Monitoring & Community Help It Survive Brand Attack
3. 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.
You cannot control the message in the Internet Age. You can affect it, but you cannot control it. 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 emailing, Tweeting, Facebooking, 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.
4. Employees will give away corporate secrets on social networks and that will help our competitors and affect the 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.
The truth is that there are more emerging media success stories than there are failures. So c’mon in. The water’s fine and your competitors are already here.
Cartoon by Hugh Macleod, gapingvoid