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5 Reasons You’re Probably Scared of Social Media

And you're not alone.


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The game has changed for marketers. I know, I know,  that’s become a cliche statement by now, but it bears repeating since the rate at which the game is changing  (or has changed depending on how you look at it) hasn’t really allowed some of us the time to stop and take a look at how drastically things’ve… well… changed.

For the early-adopters out there the new media landscape is exciting. But for some of us more cautious-adopters (I prefer that to” late bloomers”) and those stuck in the traditional, out-bound, 1 directional, disruptive marketing frame of mind, it can be a bit daunting and sometimes downright scary. But Why?  Well this post is my way, as a designer who’s hearing these concerns ,  of commiserating with any marketers, and brand custodians who’ve been apprehensive about this new social media whoosy-whatsit.

At the end of the day, I think  it boils down to a  couple of reasons:

1. You’re not in complete control – your users are.
2. The Rules of Engagement are evolving, quickly and constantly.
3. It takes a lot of Commitment.
4. The priorities are different.
5. It feels invasive.

Let me explain…

1. You’re not in complete control – your users are.
The truth is, the user (customer, client, whatever you want to call them) has  always been in control, it’s just that now they have the tools to exact that control. Selling an inferior product? Offering an inferior service? not to worry, nothing a little spin and heavy media placement can’t solve. Who cares what the buyer actually thinks, right? Now, with commenting and reviews on everything from movies to hair trimming replacement blades (can you tell I’m speaking from experience?) you’d better make sure you’re out there, if not participating, at least listening to what people are saying about your business or brand.

2. The Rules of Engagement are evolving, quickly and constantly.
There are some established rules beginning to bubble to the surface. But with every new app, they’re being added to and changing everyday. This makes the grounds on which we play this new marketing game very shaky, and that’s scary when you’re looking at spending ever scarcer resources and money. Strategizing, copywriting and media buying is work enough, now you’re being asked to worry about online conversations, not to mention keeping track of the next twitter, tumblr, zippr, blipr, qwippr out there (some of those names were made up by the way).  Plus you’ve probably already heard of mistakes other companies have been making.  I feel you, but it’s not as hard as it seems. Rule of thumb – if it’s rude in person, it’s rude online.

3. It takes a lot of Commitment.
Not that I’m implying that traditional marketing is easy. It’s just that the formula is tried and true for traditional work. Concept – Execute – Launch. Wham-Bam-Thank you. Then you’re on to the next project. Social media asks for cuddle time, then breakfast the next morning… you get the picure. It’s not enough to start a blog or twitter account or facebook page, you have to maintain it… but some of you know that already. According to a recent study, 64% of you are spending 5hours or more of your week doing social marketing.  And others of you are scared. “Do I have the time, resources and brain power to keep this social machine running?” is what you’re asking yourself. Read some of these articles, it’ll hopefully make you feel better.

4. The priorities are different.
Authenticity trumps perception. Apologies count more than perfection. Converse don’t just broadcast. Listening is just as important as speaking. Sharing is caring. Free-mium is the new crack, etc etc. Customers’ expectations are changing and that affects how you craft and maintain your brand message. The upside though, is that social media, when used well, gives  you an all access pass to those evolving customer sentiments. And the even upper side is that they’re probably eager to give you their opinions.

5. It feels invasive.
Sharing so much with your users, getting personal and having the web know so much about you / your company. It just seems so…personal. Why should your customers or prospects care if you have pets or like hang-gliding? They don’t, really, but they do care that you’re a real person. Because at the end of the day, people want to do with business with … people. That’s where the “social” part comes in. Get it?

If you think I’ve missed any important points (or missed the point completely) let me know. It’ll help me in my own understanding of this brave new-ish social world.

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Andrew Davies

Drew's degrees in Illustration, 2D animation and Broadcast Design, and his volleyball skillz mean he can get your design done and play well with others at the same time. He’s the Creative Director at Paragon and will call you out if you start hanging out with shady-looking fonts and messing around with whacked-out color palettes.

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