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Posted: January 14, 2011

Top 10 reasons to avoid social media

Jumping online isn't a given

You've heard the buzz - everyone has a Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, Flickr account and they blog incessantly. You should too, right?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Social media is playing a very important role in corporate, non-profit and business marketing across the globe. The ability to connect with customers, audiences, staff and stakeholders in a real way is appealing and exciting! Plus, the costs to engage those audiences is often less expensive than traditional marketing. You should be going full-blast into the online space, right?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Social media is a communications and marketing tactic. Like advertising, public relations, direct mail, and networking, it works if you apply a well-crafted and intentional strategy to your efforts.

You should avoid social media if:

1. You won't apply strategy to your efforts. If you just want to get online and play around, you could do damage to your personal and professional reputation - your brand - which is your most precious asset. Without clear direction, objectives, goals and planning, the returns you'll see from your effort could be dismal.

2. You don't have resources to maintain your activity. Starting a blog or fan page and neglecting it is like having a child and expecting it will raise itself. You will need to nurture and cultivate relationships online, to share information and engage audiences. This takes time, focus and resources to maintain.

3. You aren't clear on your value proposition. Companies and individuals entering social media need to be clear on what they offer. Are you different from others like you? If so, how and why? How can you back that value proposition up? Where's the proof?

4. You can't be consistent. If your social media plan includes having posts made by your teenage niece, assistant, and CFO then be sure they're all reading from the same playbook. Consistency is king online! Audiences are looking for transparency and consistency -- the same language, tone, posturing and attitude - before they will trust and engage with you online.

5. You don't care about relationships. Social media is all about relationships. You make a post, I add a comment. It is the give and take, collaboration and sharing that makes the online forum rich and inviting.

6. You don't know who your audience is. Would you invest in magazine advertising if that magazine didn't speak to your target clients and prospects? Why would you do so online? Are your clients business professionals? Younger retail consumers? Recruiters and human resource professionals? Do they collaborate and share? Do they appreciate humor? These questions are critical to deciding where and when to spend time online.

7. You won't listen. Your clients and prospects are talking online. They are sharing valuable information about their needs, likes and dislikes, and they're talking about you. If you won't spend the time to listen and respond, then make room for your competitors to do so. The information gathered online is priceless if you pay attention.

8. You think you have nothing to say. Not every company or individual needs to have a pithy blog to be relevant online. Everyone has something to say and there are many forums to offer input, advice, sharing, awareness and best practices. From LinkedIn Groups, to Facebook fan pages, to blogs and community sites like Jumo, there is a place to chime in and connect with others.

9. You think social media is a fad. You're not alone. However, the reality of the personal and business side of social media (and the billions of dollars that are exchanging hands online) indicate this is not going away. People around the globe have found rich and rewarding ways of sharing valuable information, connecting around communities of interest, and supporting their favorite brands online.

10. You're stuck. Again, you're not alone. Most businesses and individuals don't know where to start. My advice is to begin by taking inventory of: A) Who you are, B) Who might care about you, C) Where they are online, and D) What's the best way to reach them (using social media).

Branding is about producing trust. The online space is wonderful channel to promote, articulate and demonstrate credibility around your brand - corporate or personal. When approached with strategy and intention, the online world of social media can be a rich environment for learning, sharing and connecting.
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Readers Respond

Well, that's the rebuke my wife often uses when I'm sitting in the corner at parties, updating my Facebook status on my iPhone! I point out that I'm being social...just in a different way! Joking aside, unless your business is using social media marketing in one or more of its many forms it really is being anti-social.<a href="">Business Reputation Management</a> By Business Reputation Management on 2011 05 19
@Kurt you are correct, but anything done in business without a strategy is not going to work the way you intend. If you do not have focus and a strategy then even if you have great results it is hard to know what a success is. If you are unsure about social media look at what others do. Ask people about their plans.If you need more help there are firms that specialize in helping businesses create a cogent strategy. By Steve Kessler on 2011 01 31
This article is misleading and written in entirely the wrong context. How ridiculous would it be for a business author to create an article on reasons to avoid sales. And yet, I could use the very same logic used here to encourage a business to avoid sales if you don’t use strategy, understand your value, act consistent, caring about relationships, etc. Done intelligently, social media has a valuable role for every business. If you don’t know how to proceed intelligently, get some help, but don’t avoid it. By Kurt on 2011 01 15
It's good to be able to find professional direction! Your post is informative to me the small businessman who is trying every opportunity to get better known for what and how I do what I do. For many like me wanting to generate business as cost effectively as possible I believe it's natural to want to get posted everywhere you can. As a one man band it is impossible to stay up with it all. I'll follow your lead on this and back off some. Thanks By WOK on 2011 01 14
Enjoyed your article--social media is not the strategy for every business. Great insight! By Nancy McKinney on 2011 01 14
Excellent advise. Well said. paying attention is the key. Reputation Management is the key to the game and your success. Harlan Schillinger By Harlan Schillinger on 2011 01 14
I'm glad I followed you Linda, even though I thought you were the car. And a very interesting take take on the whole thing. Excellent post! By johnny bull on 2011 01 14

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