Scared of Social Media?

Nov 2011

The other week my coworker Cheryl and I were musing in the break room, eating our lunches when we heard some ladies, who worked in our same building, begin chatting about social media for businesses.

Social Media, you say?!

Mine and Cheryl’s ears perked up.  We eyed each other knowingly, and pretended to eat our sandwiches as we, very casually, eavesdropped in the conversation to wait for an inconspicuous transition mark where we could chime in and say, “Ah social media?! Why yes, that’s our niche!” (We do work for Katie Wagner Social Mediaafterall). And then we could all have a grand ol’ time discussing the endless benefits of social media for business. Yes, it was going to be great.

However, to my chagrin, the chat went a little something more like this: one woman asked the other what she thought about using social media for her business, to which the second woman replied, rather vehemently, that she would never venture into the social media world, since it was too exposing and “risky” to put all of her information out there for people to see on the Internet.

And just like that, the conversation ended, and the two women parted ways to their respective offices, leaving Cheryl and I disappointed that we didn’t have our chance to regale them with what we thought of social media.

After that incident, I began thinking about how many other people feel the same apprehension of using social media.  Social media has become so ubiquitous and grown so powerful; Why would you not want to utilize it to your advantage?

Unfortunately, there are many out there like Social Media Fearing Woman (SMFW).  And yes, sometimes maybe social media can be a little risky.  We’ve seen many cases like SMFW, social media cynics who dip their feet into the water for a little bit and start to dabble with Facebook updates, tweeting daily news and interacting with customers.  But then when a problem arises—customers expressing frustration or negative reception, customers complaining, etc—they go haywire. They get scared and don’t know how to handle the situation on social media.

The funny thing is, social media is exactly like customer service, but just on a grander scale and on a different medium.  If you have a business, good customer service is indispensable, right? How different is it to handle cases of frustrated customers on a Facebook wall than through the phone?  Not much, only that the rest of the world is now watching how you take care of the situation.

And this is what people like SMFW fear—they fear this exposure, and they fear saying the wrong thing and then royally screwing up in front of everybody else on Facebook, Twitter or whatever other social media they are using.

Here’s my simple piece: Social media can be intimidating, but if you handle yourself and your business with the grace and poise that you do in person, you should have no problem. Why should you fear putting you and your business out there for the world to see? In this day and age, businesses thrive on personal connections made possible by the ever-expanding internet and technology.  By opting out of social media, you could be missing out on big opportunities.  As we at Katie Wagner Social Media like to say, you need to “Be Fearless, Get Social” in order to be successful.

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