Trisha Lees, one of our Tartan partners, and I conducted a seminar on social media for the Whistler Chamber of Commerce this week. There were about 20 small local businesses in attendance, with varying degrees of investment and experience in social media.
They were, in part, a reactive group: some were there because they had to be and were reacting to pressure from the market and other businesses that are a step ahead. So already social media is a tough sell to those businesses, reluctance not being the greatest motivator. On the other hand, Whistler: who wants to be inside on a computer?
Listening to the questions and comments throughout the four-hour long session we can conclude that these four things have kept them out of the SM waters thus far.
1. It’s too overwhelming. We popped up this image of a bunch of social media tools and spaces, and people in the room literally gasped. For some, it was an elegant confirmation of all their fears: Social Media will take over your life. The reality is, you pick and choose, just like with traditional media. You don’t have to understand every publication and broadcast outlet to build an effective media strategy. You just have to know where your punters are.
2. Social Media is just noise. People yakking at each other. Wasting time. The latest trend for trend-obsessessed societies. In reality, to people using social media, advertising is noise, precisely because it’s one-way communication. What they’re engaged in is communication. And while it may be trending, it’s continuing to trend up, like the Internet itself.
3. There is no proof that this stuff works. That rather depends on your definition of “works”. Does it replace traditional advertising? No. It supplements it in an area of social interaction that simply didn’t exist five years ago. Proactive companies have recognized the benefits of monitoring, engaging in and analyzing these influential conversations for some time now. Social media is a slow-burn and it’s hit and miss. But the potential for buzz is awe-inspiring, as viral videos have shown. If your company gets it wrong to the wrong person, they are going to be talking about it here. And then you will know its power.
4. It will take too much time. A blog, some tweets, a few Facebook updates, a YouTube video, some pics on Flickr…where is the time for the rest of my life? Here you have to learn not only best practices but efficient ones. A blog one day, some tweets the next, a Facebook update on day 3…a bit of monitoring every morning. It’s manageable if you make it so. It will overwhelm you if you don’t.