“We all enjoy dipping our toe in the cold water of fear.” -Alfred Hitchcock
Halloween is the one day each year when we all try to scare each other for laughs. However, there’s something sinister creeping around much more often in the people’s heads that doesn’t elicit much laughter. It goes on day after day, leaving crumbs of apprehension that can be gathered up later for evidence to prove that social media fears are absolute.
Chances are you’ve met people like this and you may even be one of them. When the subject of social media comes up in conversation, their eyes get wide.
Social media fears evoke the body’s natural fight, flight or freeze response.
The heart and respiratory rates increase, eyes dilate, eyelids raise and adrenaline is released. At some point, composure sets in and people say things like:
- “Social media is a fad.”
- “Social media doesn’t work.”
- “Social media is an invasion of privacy.”
- “We don’t need social media. We sell enough.”
I’ve heard every single one of these more than a few times. Maybe you’ve heard them too?
I witness these real fears when I speak at conferences, when I’m doing workshops and training, when I’m providing guidance to individuals, and even in random conversations when people learn what I do for a living.
The 5 Most Common Social Media Fears
Let’s explore these fears and discover some tools to overcome them.
1. The Unknown.
To fear something that’s new or foreign is a natural occurrence. From a young age, many of us were taught to fear the unknown. We learned that things beyond our comfort zone are to be avoided and we’ve carried that over to our adult lives.
Xenophobia has contributed to the current unrest throughout the U.S. Feeding the fear frenzy helps media companies get more clicks, so there’s a lot riding on keeping that fear level heightened.
It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
Resist the urge to give into the fear of the unknown by seeking factual information and knowledge. Determine 5-10 credible people to follow or connect with who will strike the match of sanity to help you find your way.
2. I’ll Waste Time and Money.
Nobody likes to waste time or money. Successful social media requires investment in both.
Social media fears (and the resulting mistakes) can sabotage your best intentions and steal your most precious non-recyclable resources: time, energy, and money.
The best way to avoid wasting time and money is to have a plan. Social media strategy is required if you want to cast out the fear and get optimal results.
3. I Don’t Know What to Post/I’ll Post the Wrong Thing
About a year ago, I got a frantic call from a women-centric business about a debacle they were entrenched in on social media. It seems that their “social media vendor” was tweeting random quotes from celebrities. Now, I’m not opposed to using quotes as part of an overall content strategy, but as this company learned the hard way, you can’t just “set it and forget it.”
This was during the time when the sexual accusations against Bill Cosby were first announced. Every few days there was another woman sharing a similar experience and the news kept getting tawdrier as the days went by. The outrage was palpable.
Because the business owner had not paid close attention to the quotes their vendor was tweeting, they missed the one that was posted quoting Bill Cosby.
Prior to the accusations, this would have been another benign tweet. But, in social media, timing is everything.
Soon there was an angry mob tweeting about it and frankly, it damaged their brand irreparably.
No one watches your brand like you do. The fear this company has about social media caused them to ‘offload the chores’ of content creation and publication to someone who probably automated the same message to all their clients’ accounts and didn’t care enough, or wasn’t quick enough, to fix the error before it was too late.
4. Salespeople Will Say the Wrong Thing
Having managed car salespeople a lot in my life, I know that the value of leadership and management skills can’t be overstated. It’s scary to think what can happen when salespeople are given an opportunity to engage customers online without any guidance.
However, there’s no way around it. Today’s hyper-connected customer is online and your salespeople better be there too with their networking skills, ready to answer questions, and conveying the right message.
5. Salespeople Will Steal Our Customers
There are direct correlations between customer retention, employee engagement and loyalty. Happy, supported, and successful salespeople tend to stay where they are.
Unhappy, disgruntled salespeople can, and perhaps will, steal your customers. If employees perceive the work environment as hostile, heartless or unsympathetic, especially by more than one employee, it invites all sorts of unwanted situations.
Fact: 29% of employees feel valued in their jobs. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Do what you can to make employees feel valued. One great way is to embrace a process to include them in social media.
How can I move past my social media fears?
There are two next steps to alleviating fear and gaining knowledge.
Step #1: Create and implement a social media policy.
If you’re a company…
Educate employees on what social media is and why it’s important. Provide guidelines on how employees should conduct themselves, how to determine what’s appropriate, and what’s off limits. You also need a strategy for crisis management. The effort you put into laying the foundation for employee social media use, will pay off when (not if) sticky situations arise.
If you’re an individual…
Educate yourself on what social media is for you and why it’s important…for you. While you don’t need to necessarily write it down (although it would be a good idea), determine your policy for content publication, when you’ll contribute to conversations, how you’ll respond and what topics you’ll steer away from, no matter how tempting they may be.
Step #2: Develop a social media strategy that communicates your brand’s value.
Whether you’re a business or individual, social media success is always about the value you contribute. I’m referring to the value created or reinforced within each person’s mind when they interact with you.
With a content strategy that defines your unique value, identifies target customers, and states the desired goals, social media fears become a non-starter. Measure and analyze your results and soon, with each step, knowledge takes the place of fear.
“Do one thing everyday that scares you.”
Position yourself for growth in 2017. Don’t let social media fears hold you back from achieving high levels of success and becoming the best version of yourself.