The Social Climb (and the Fear of Heights)
We’re living in an age of connectedness like most of us would not have imagined even five years ago. We have amazing social networks available to every human and company on the planet. Brands can reach out and talk to consumers like never before. And yet many companies continue to resist this shift in relating, communicating and connecting.
It’s exciting and a bit daunting at the same time—I get that. Getting on that social media ladder is the first step, but it’s a tough one to make if you have a fear of heights. Vulnerability is scary. Like everything else, the harder you work at connecting and building rapport, the more rewarding the climb will be. But so many are still holding back from fully embracing it. Well, let’s be honest—many still aren’t even on the first rung of the ladder.
If we pretend it’s not there, maybe it’ll go away . . .
That’s not going to happen. Social media is here to stay, folks. But there is still a great amount of fear about it. It’s the fear of vulnerability. Of what might happen if you open yourself or your company up to a public discussion.
You’re probably familiar with the recent KitchenAid faux pas. One of the company’s social media reps accidentally used the corporate Twitter profile to speak out during the presidential debate about Obama’s grandma rather than using his or her personal account. While the tweet was deleted quickly, it was too late. It had been screen-captured quickly and it became a meme on the Internet. You can imagine the repercussions this had. And this could have been a detriment to the company. But instead it was handled quickly, with grace and humility.
A direct apology from a top media executive within minutes set a terrific example for how to handle a bad situation. It showed how a simple response (without any time wasted for upper management review) CAN make a big difference and cover an unfortunate mistake. I mean, let’s face it—we’re all human and mistakes will happen. But KitchenAid responded well and is the kind of company I want to associate myself with as a consumer. This social media glitch didn’t harm my view of the brand—in fact, the way they handled it actually bolstered my respect for them.
See? Even if someone makes a social media faux pas, good companies bounce back and not only survive, but they often thrive. It’s all about handling yourself with grace under pressure.
Still not buying it? You’re a tough nut to crack. How about these social media facts I took from reputable sites:
• On average, in the course of a year, we will share 415 pieces of content on Facebook; we’ll spend an average of about 23 minutes a day on Twitter, tweeting a total of around 15,795 tweets; we’ll check in 563 times on Foursquare; upload 196 hours of video on YouTube, and send countless emails.
• Facebook now has over 1 billion active users. That means that one out of every seven people in the world has a presence on the network. (That includes your employees. You don’t allow it at work? Check their mobile devices.)
• Twitter is currently gaining more active users at a faster pace than Facebook.
• 36% of social media users post brand-related content.
• Two out of three social media users believe Twitter influences purchases.
• 60% of employees would like help from employers to share relevant content.
• 38% of CEOs label social media a high priority, and 57% of businesses planned to hike up their social media spending in 2012.
• LinkedIn is opening up their professional profile for more people to follow and enhancing the largest business network in the world.
• Pinterest is growing at an alarming rate—more than 4377% last year.
• Google+ is gaining 100,000 users a m
onth. With the recent purchase of Wildfire, watch out.
• There are 70 million WordPress blogs worldwide.
• Mobile advertising is exploding. During Q4 2011, mobile advertising was up 39%
This is not me talking, these are cold hard facts. Social media is going nowhere but up—you ready to climb with it?
If your CEO is not taking this climb seriously as you plan your own human capital plan, marketing plan, customer service road map, product plan, and brand awareness efforts . . . well, all I can say is, tell him to get over his fear of heights. The companies and brands that choose to take risks and aren’t afraid to fail or fall—temporarily—are the ones who will ultimately succeed.
Key Takeaway: Get over your social media anxiety and get on the social ladder before you get left behind. The view from the ground is not nearly as thrilling as the view from the top.
Check out recently related blog: The 1° Social Marketing Shift