COM0011 – Opening the Door to Social Media – Monster in the Closet or Pandora’s Box?

Photo Credit: Kevin Cunningham

Photo Credit: Kevin Cunningham

Many organizations are deciding how far to go when investing in Social Media. Some organizations see this as the way of the future and are excited about the opportunities. Some organizations see Social Media about as exciting as the idea of a monster in the closet or Pandora’s Box. For our purposes today, let’s focus on these companies, the companies who are scared to open the door or the box. So, why are some companies so nervous about what could be on the other side of that door or under the lid of the box?

Fear is the first obstacle; you need to convince me I can survive opening the door or the lid of the box. We can do this by providing information and education. We can also do this by providing support; it is less scary if you are not opening it alone.

Change is scary for a lot of people. We have always advertised this way, it still works, why do we need to do anything different? Often fear of change comes from not fully understanding the benefits associated with the change. How will social media improve those results? If the way you have always done it still works, great! Now, think how social media could add to those results!

Time is a valuable resource and one that many companies feel is already limited and stretched. How can I fit this in? How much work is involved? What will be the payoff to all the work? Building a positive online presence takes time, it requires attention. It also creates loyalty with both your employees and customers. People are happy and proud when they have the opportunity to work for an organization that is doing good things and creating a good image. Customers like to see that their hard-earned money goes to companies that value them and make them a priority. There are also tools available to measure the effectiveness of your time allocated to social media allowing the company to adjust their efforts accordingly.

Control can be a hard thing for some companies to hand over. By opening the door for social media it makes communication a two-way street. Suddenly it seems everyone has an opinion and unfortunately, people are far more likely to post a negative one than a positive one. Opening the door or the lid involves other people acting as brand ambassadors for the organization. Do we let our people have the passwords to a brand we have protected so carefully up to this point? This sharing of control is a mind shift for a lot of companies. Looking at the big picture and seeing the value that can be added by opening the door or the lid of the box, that is key in making these marketing decisions.

Patricia Egan writes about this topic in her article, “Letting Employees Use Social Media – Opportunity or Pandora’s Box.” She sets out some excellent guidelines for if you “choose to go down the path of opening the social media flood gates at your business.” She discusses the importance of rules of conduct, deciding how much to let your employees ‘play’ in social media, monitoring the time spent, etc.  She helps ease fears for those of us less familiar with the realm of social media and business.

So, if social media is so scary, if it poses the risk of the monster in the closet or Pandora’s Box, why would we want to get involved? I came across an article written by Zane Safrit, “Social Media’s opened our Pandora’s Box,” where he talks about hope. He discusses what is actually at the bottom of the Pandora’s Box of social media is hope. This is what leads us to get involved with social media, the belief that it connects us as a global community for activism, business and good causes. We hear wonderful stories about how social media has allowed people to share their messages, visions and goals. We want to be able to contribute in a way that makes us stand out and build those relationships with our customers.

Photo Credit: Louise Bagnell

Photo Credit: Louise Bagnell

Is Social Media really the Monster in the closet or Pandora’s Box? In some ways it is for those of us just getting involved. We need to walk through those fears and realize we can overcome them. In the end, we need to harness the good that is available to us and make a plan for the things that make us nervous. We need to focus on the ability to reach customers all over the world and to build relationships with customers and other people in our industry. Those interactions and their value can be what give us the courage to open the door and take the lid off the box.

6 thoughts on “COM0011 – Opening the Door to Social Media – Monster in the Closet or Pandora’s Box?

  1. “Harnessing the good” and “making a plan for the things that make us nervous” sounds like a sensible approach to social media. I think reminding ourselves that we don’t have to be on all platforms all at once or at all will help to alleviate fear.

  2. I agree with you that education is key and having a good solid strategy, including a contingency “fall back” plan in the event of a negative comment is absolutely required. We are currently running a “toe in the water” approach to social media and I admit that the lack of set strategy is terrifying for me. We did receive one negative comment thus far and I really had no idea how to react. Thankfully our partner organization (who was also tagged in the comment) were quick to react and I was able to chime in with the same point of view.
    It’s a steep learning curve and while social media may be an easy and relatively inexpensive way to promote an organization any failures are extremely public and for that reason, quite hard to recover from, which contributes to the fear.

  3. Remembering we don’t have to be everywhere at once is a great point as well! It allows us to focus our efforts on what will bring us the best return without having to do it all.

    You are absolutely right about the very public risk of failure. I think it is important that when we receive the negative feedback that we are honest in our responses. If it was our mistake we own it and apologize for it. If it was not our mistake we at least apologize for the way it impacted someone else. That is one of the things I like most about social media, is the way our brand develops a more human element. While that can be scary, it can also be exciting to build a two way relationship with our customers.

  4. In my organization, time is definitely an issue. I think to do social media well in a professional setting, it is a full time job, and with little resources and employees already stretched thin, the social media capacity is not what it should be! I think it’s better to invest in the time and do it well, rather than having an outdated and poor social media presence. For the most part though, I think organizations are on social media just for the sake of being on it — because “everyone else is on it” — rather than for a purpose, be it to market, to gain information or to make money. I don’t think organizations are necessarily fearful of social media, I think they just don’t know how to do it with purpose.

  5. I think time is the biggest concern! Just as Bea said it, my company doesn’t have the man power to put all the time and energy into social media the way it should. Are process for posting is pretty crazy and takes a good 15-20 minutes to post, if I post 4 times a day that’s an hour of my time. Again how important is this post for are client base? Is this time spent worth it?

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