In a recent post from eMarketer.com “Executives Fail to Focus on Social Media Marketing Strategy”, some interesting findings show that while companies believe the future of their company is related to their use of Social Media, most are not making it a priority. While the stats make for an interesting dialog, I don’t find this surprising due the transition period of acceptance and saturation we are still in, this naturally will lead to a low level of action taken. With that said, I believe there are three main reasons that are attributing to a much slower social media strategy adoption rate among executives.
1. Some executives give social media lip service, but really don’t believe it works
I think for the past few years we have seen the age divide of social media being accepted close, but for some in business social media has become a buzz word that gets spoken in circles to make you sound relevant and not much more happens past that. Studies have shown that while usage of social networks among middle age people have increased, there is still hesitancy to see value of its use in business. This maybe due to the elusive ROI that most companies want to see happen “yesterday”, however we in social media know that in this channel, it can be a long process before large enough returns are seen to make those in the “C” Level happy. As companies add more and more social savvy talent, I think this reason will disappear, unfortunately some will wait until its to late only to realize their market share was stripped out from underneath them.
2. Social Media Marketing costs time & money
Yes, you would think this would not be an issue for some mid to large companies, but speaking from a recent experience, the bottom line drives corporate america. Sure you can wave the “social Media is the future” banner and show that the President of the United States, Lady Gaga & Donald Trump are all on Twitter, but that is so far removed from the board rooms the average company.
Most companies don’t know where to start, some think all they have to do is post a new status update on Facebook everyday, then they become disillusioned when they only get 3 “likes” and 1 optin on their mailing list for the month. Then in a pool of “social media experts” all claiming to have the magic formula that will solve there problems, they give one a try and get burned, mainly because the expectations set up front on both sides were completely wrong, not to mention the “strategy” wasn’t a strategy, it was some theory drawn on a napkin at Starbucks. Not that I have anything against theory’s drawn on napkins at Starbucks, but a good social media strategy will take up more space than a napkin, it will cost more that a box of napkins. It takes lots of time, lots of energy and lots of money. The reason? Because social media marketing is about and involves people. Good relationships don’t happen over night, to build them it takes building trust and likability, both of which are tough to make a graph for so you can demonstrate ROI at the next board meeting. The fact is a lot of people don’t know how to build solid relationships in person, let alone online, so coming up for a strategy for social media gets moved on the list of priorities.
3. Company bottom lines are not effected enough to justify a change in course
While the time & money reason is an important one, I believe this reason is bigger than many realize. It mainly is a reason used by those who hate change, who like to live in the “this is how we’ve always done it” world. These are the people who still haven’t updated their 5 page website since 1998, still have the fake fica tree collecting dust in the reception area and still buy the large ad in the Yellow Pages book. (which no one reads by the way). The only thing that will get the attention of these executives are when market share and profits are dwindling and even then their actions will still not involve social media strategy, but will involve placing a larger Yellow Page ad, cutting sales executives & budgets and removing reserved parking places, you know the stuff that really helps companies grow.
I hope you can see my humor and sarcasm coming through, but it is true and by then it will be too late. Those who “get it” will be replacing people at your competition and will be doing business with social currency through online networks and relationships, if you are not there, I believe no amount of Yellow Page ads and refrigerator calendar magnets will save you.
I believe all three reasons above attribute to not only a lack of social media strategy, but poorly executed social media policies in many companies. If executives and can’t overcome these hurdles, I agree with the conclusion in the eMarketer post:
“Many companies may be using social media marketing, but those that choose not to focus on a social strategy risk falling behind the curve in integrating social media with their overall marketing goals. Recognizing the importance of strategy alone isn’t enough; companies should start implementing a plan.”
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