When Companies Shouldn’t Use Social Media: Top 3 Excuses that Will Simply Backfire

I’ve seen a great deal of articles, blogs, and conversations out there surrounding the concept of whether or not social media is right for businesses.  There are some very poignant reasons to get involved, engage, and listen.  The question of whether businesses should think about engaging in social media activities is an easy one to answer.  Every business should certainly consider it, but should definitely weigh the pros and cons and see if it is the right fit for their organization.

Here’s a list of reasons why a company shouldn’t jump right out there and start tweeting or building that fan page:

  1. Everyone’s doing it. If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?  Seems a little silly to put it in the same perspective as a lecture from Mom and Dad, but when you break it down – is it that drastically different?  Successful businesses hardly make strategic decisions based upon the notion that “everyone else is doing it, so we should.”  You shouldn’t look at or operate your business as if it were in a vacuum.  Some things just make good business sense, and some things don’t.  You need to evaluate which one of those things social media is to your specific business.
  2. Our competition is doing it. Although this sounds like a far better reason than “everyone’s doing it,” it still could be the wrong answer for businesses.  Is your competition doing it, and doing it well?  Are they floundering around without a clear direction or purpose, offering you an opportunity to seize?  Maybe there is a reason they are failing – but can you identify what that is and correct so as to not repeat?
  3. We have people here who use social media, so they could totally do that for the business too. Whoa, whoa there.  Personal use of social media and social networking sites can be far different terrain than using it for business purposes.  Take it from someone who’s seen the short-end of where that line blurs.  Just because you have an employee (or employees) who seem well versed in posting Facebook status updates on what they’re doing that weekend or sending out tweets about the latest and greatest iPhone apps, doesn’t mean they are qualified to just transition into engaging with customers via the same tools.  There’s a certain etiquette that can be involved that must be understood before jumping in with both feet.

All in all, I strongly encourage businesses of all forms to engage in some kind of social media activities to supplement or enhance their business.  My premise is that the reasons outlined above aren’t the justification that you should be using when making that pitch to upper management.  The “me too” mentality might have worked for getting curfew extended another hour, but doesn’t always work here.

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Posted on October 24, 2009, in Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Amy, your web site is done well. I liked the straight forward, clearly stated writing. It’s amazing to find out that there have been literally hundreds of followers for Target and DSW with no Tweets on Twitter. Why did that happen? Aren’t the firms paying attention to the up-front work? You made some good points regarding the mathematics and realistically how we should view sales vs. marketing. The idea of social media is new to some firms, daunting to others and a hot one to others. How should a firm approach this? You made some good cautionary points regarding adopting social media. My sense is that a firm shouldn’t do it for the sake of it, and some forethought is necessary. Is there a reason/purpose? If so, is it justified for the product/service? What are the costs and benefits?

  2. Thanks Dave. I appreciate the feedback! I was shocked too about DSW and Target – and those are only two firms that I discovered in a quick 20 minutes of research. I’m sure that is only the tip of the iceberg. I think most companies have decided to jump on the bandwagon, so to speak, without a clear plan or set of objectives. That’s the beauty and the curse of social media – businesses think it’s easy, but it truthfully isn’t (if you want to do it correctly).

  3. Amy I thought your website was very organized and had a lot of interested material. I agree with Dave that is shocking to find out that these such large companies such as Target and DSW are not posting any tweets and still remain to have a lot of followers. Also, I enjoyed the three reason not to jump into social media. Never really thought about looking at the down sides of what it can do to the company. Interesting!

  4. I just figured the utilization of social marketing and media wouldn’t hurt no matter the issue. That it should be always taken advantage of… here that is not the case now is it!

    • Thanks Lori! For me personally, there isn’t a downside if using social media is done correctly. However, therein lies the problem for most organizations – they jump right in without a clear plan or strategic vision/goal. Social media should receive the same consideration as many other forms of traditional media – it should be planned and thought out before delving right in.

  5. Amy,

    It was no wonder I found your site engaging- your points during class discussions are well-taken as well.

    I agree with the above comments regarding your blog. All of your point are well-taken, but the third is extremely interesting for me. At a previous company in which I worked for I had discussed the possibility of utilizin Twitter. I presented my research and ideas to the owner- and he agreed to be on board- with one exception. Our intern (who was our office assistant) was to help design the process, implement and update our account- wait, what? I facebook, I myspace, I haven’t tweeted nor do I have the experience necessary to train our intern office manager on doing so. The underlining factor was clear- they didn’t have the budget for it. Thinking back on it now, I knew I could have trained her to update a social networking account (as I’m sure she facebooks and myspaces too, maybe even tweets) but she knew nothing about the company objectives and strategies.

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