Around the summer of 2009, I was working for a trade association and social media was starting to look like more than a flash in the pan. So, my marketing pal and I took some classes on Facebook and (the) Twitter. We figured we better learn these new channels so as to better disseminate our company’s information. This will be great! A new way to market our messages!
Wrong. As I traveled the path of social media enlightenment, I found that social media is nothing more than a communication tool which enables engagement and ultimately, trust. No one wants a promotional message pushed on them. Human nature has not changed, just the way we interact. We all want to deal with people we know and trust. Social media enables building relationships with people virtually when we can’t be there physically, thereby opening the door to countless more people than we could possibly get to know without it.
If that was my perception in 2009, it comes as no surprise that this is a very common misconception today. But the real problem isn’t that people start their social media journey headed in one direction and end up in another. The problem is when people learn how social authority is built and grown, often times upper management isn’t comfortable with it (because they don’t understand it) and rather than empowering employees to soar, they fasten the seat belts. The knee jerk reaction is to control it, and the lack of control is scary.
“They don’t know what they don’t know,” is a great way to describe the disconnect between the new socially aware and those who haven’t discovered it yet. I’m not saying the folks stalling things on the sidelines are bad – most of us were in the exact same place, wanting to push our promotional messages out to a whole new audience. We’re marketers and we market. But trust is the new currency today. And those entrenched in fear need to trust that those who have gone before them into the social media realm can show them the way.
Have you run into this problem yourself? What are some tips you can offer to help others traveling this same path?