The rapid growth of social media communication has some people excited and others nervous. Many professionals are hesitant to stick their toes in the shallow end while others dive in head first. Regardless of your perception of social media, it is becoming increasingly vital to an organization’s success.
So, where does the fear to participate come from? Some business executives find social media too risky and are scared of losing control of the conversation. They’re reluctant to expose their brand to the “critical” masses and afraid that if they put their brand out there for all to give their two cents, then ‘Negative Nancy’ will take over and they’ll never be able to rope the conversation back in.
However, opening up conversation about your brand to include social media users can foster positive feedback and use a web of connections to get your name out there. The perceived risk that accompanies engaging in the world of social media can be worth taking if you participate in the right ways.
Beware of sharks
Consistently reinforcing your message and purpose with Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social media venues lowers the risk of losing control and increases your brand awareness. Will someone, somewhere eventually say something negative about your brand? Yes. But the upside to having these negative comments said in the social media conversation is that there are people out there who can and will defend your brand as well.
Picking up speed
Getting comfortable with putting your brand out there is just the beginning. Engaging your fans, followers and bloggers is the next step and perhaps the biggest reward when entering the social media pool. Instead of just tacking social media on to your list of things to do, leverage your followers and bloggers to do some serious footwork for you. For example, companies can implement Facebook contests and invite their fans to get involved for the chance to win a prize. Another option is to tweet questions and links for your fans to weigh in on. These strategies get your fans actively participating with your brand.
Headed for open waters
When growing your online presence, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not usually about selling. The most influential and successful social media efforts are focused on the bigger conversation. For instance, Pampers created an online community called Pampers Village where current mothers or mothers-to-be can access educational resources regarding situations encountered from birth through childhood. There’s no shopping cart for diaper purchases. Focusing their online presence on being a resource for mothers has instilled trust in consumers while still promoting the Pampers name.
On your mark, get set, swim.
Participating in the social media world doesn’t mean you have to be glued to your smart phone but spending time effectively and accurately representing your brand will help you define your organization. Social media communication is quickly evolving from an extension of technology to the center of business relationships. Don’t get left sitting on the side of the pool.