Let’s just get straight to the point… social media sucks. Plain and simple. For years it’s been “business as usual” and then suddenly everyone is bouncing around words like “social”, “engage”, “community” and all kinds of other blather. Some of the biggest companies in the world such as Ford, Starbucks, Dell, American Express and many others have fallen for the trap. I’m here to warn you before you do anything stupid. Social media sucks and here’s a few reasons why …
- Social media shifts the limelight from brands to the customers. It was fine when brands were the stars. They spoke and customers listened. Now customers are the ones who speak and expect to be heard. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook allow them to easily share their opinions. Ecommerce sites even encourage the most vocal folks to leave customer reviews directly next to each product. Of course it’s all bad when you allow a negative review to slip by.
- Social media forces companies to learn new tools. Never mind that it’s easier than ever to measure customer sentiment, track sales conversions, identify qualified sales leads and decrease customer service costs. The phone email and fax are the only tool set you need. In fact, the growth of smart phone owners last year increased by 10% to a total of 46% of American adults making it even easier to cold call folks wherever they may be, right? Besides, what could any respectable sales person do with social media besides tweet about their lunch and play Candy Crush Saga? (hint)
- Social media has changed the direction of marketing and sales from outbound to inbound. Companies are becoming more like publishers and distributors of content. An average of 60% of B2B respondents to a recent content marketing survey say they intend to increase their content marketing budgets over the next 12 months.
- Social media provides lots of ways for customers to get information. Why can’t customers simply trust corporate web sites or call their helpful sales reps? Instead they actively share buying experiences and solicit opinions from friends and followers. Remember the increase in smartphone ownership I mentioned previously? Well it looks like some folks are using their smartphone for a bit more than just phone calls and Angry Birds.
- Social media forces companies to be more human. No more do layers of automated customer support systems, grinning celebrity endorsements, slick promotional campaigns and PR spin guard me from facing my customer at the end of the day. They know that behind every business is a group of human beings just like them. They expect a reasonable touch of empathy in their interaction with a brand. Traditional marketing only takes you so far without that empathy. Even great companies have felt the sting of forgetting this key ingredient. Communications, customer service, sales, product development and marketing are all places where empathy should exist. Brands need to be walking in a pair of their customer’s shoes at all times if they hope to keep pace with the today’s connected customer.
Well there you have it. A handful of reasons why social media sucks for businesses. As you might have noticed by now I’m being facetious, but there are still plenty of business owners and C-level folks who think of social media as a flash in the pan or all fun and games. The bottom line is that it’s a reality. Applying social media to business takes effort, time, commitment and empathy. To those that continue to dismiss social media before doing their due diligence, social media is going to continue to suck.