Fearing Social Media: The Reasons Remain the Same

Ann All

Social media and Web 2.0 technologies have been around for a while now. Once-reticent organizations are giving them a try.


Oddly, the holdouts haven't seemed to change their views at all. Wouldn't you think some of their reasons for forgoing social media would have shifted at least a bit based on the experiences -- both good and bad -- of their peers?


Yet that doesn't seem to be the case. Though they are only the opinion of the author, the 28 reasons why the CEO is afraid of social media on Jeffbulla's Blog mesh pretty well with what I heard from analysts, vendors and company executives whom I've interviewed in the near past. I'm not going to reproduce the entire list. But I've included a few highlights, with relevant accompanying content from our site. My comments and links to our content are in parentheses:


The "newness" of it, going to wait. (Some might say this is a bad strategy, with those that wait giving up an "early mover" advantage. But I wonder if that's such a big deal here, considering the many different ways organizations are employing social media. Better to have a clear strategy in mind, instead of saying, "All of my competitors are on Twitter, so I need to be as well." Burton Group this spring concluded in a report that many companies have the erroneous impression that their social computing strategies lag those of their competitors. It predicts adoption will be relatively slow, as companies wait to see the benefits gained by early adopters.)


Waiting on return on investment with facts and figures. (Organizations citing this reason may wait a good, long time. As Forrester Research's Oliver Young said last summer, "it is very difficult to sit down and create that traditional ROI measurement where you can talk dollars and cents" for Web 2.0 technologies. Even when organizations provide financial details, as in a case study outlining TransUnion's take on its ROI for collaboration software, it comes off more fuzzy than finite. It's no secret everyone would like to see more concrete details of Web 2.0 success stories.)

We don't have the time or resources to contribute and moderate. (OK, a legitimate reason. Not devoting enough resources to moderating and maintaining social media activities is a good way to ensure they fail.)


The tools to measure and analyze social media aren't mature enough yet. (There's certainly some truth to this one. Ken-Hardin, IT Business Edge's VP of Subscriber Products, bemoaned the lack of reliable benchmarks for social media. For those seeking suggestions for meaningful social media metrics and ways to measure them, Digital Brand Expressions' Marc Engelsman offered some good ideas in my recent interview with him.)

We will lose control of our brand and image. (You will lose at least some control. If you're not willing to accept this, with the idea that the benefits will outweigh the risks, don't even bother. When I interviewed Vida Killian, manager of Dell's IdeaStorm, which is often hailed as an example of a successful customer community, she told me: "Dell has really embraced the fact that we don't control this. On our forums, which started out as support, there wasn't a lot of positive out there to begin with. So it's accepting the fact that people are going to talk about anything and everything. That, from a company culture perspective, makes us more successful in the online community.")

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 19, 2009 2:21 PM Finbarr McCarthy Finbarr McCarthy  says:

Ann - Intersting post. Most companies that are afraid to move on social media simply fear the unknown. This is unfortunate as I believe they are missing valuable opportunities. ROI is indeed difficult to measure, however it is probably easier to measure ROI on social media than it is with traditional marketing activities, there are many tools available to those who undertake this task.

The question about controling brand and image is an interesting one, the truth in my view is that people will talk about your brand - even if you are not there to help steer the conversation.



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