Converting the Social Media Non-Believers

I had the pleasure of speaking last night at an event organized by DC Web Women and I Heart Social Media DC and thought I would share my remarks with you all. I’d love to hear your feedback! Have you converted any social media non-believers? What was your strategy?

When people resist social media it is usually for 3 key reasons:

1. They are scared of what their community really has to say about them.
2. They are intimidated by new technology and feel overwhelmed.
3. They are happy with the way things are.

So when you are trying to convert the social media non believers you want to make sure your argument addresses each of those concerns.

1. I’m scared of what my community has to say.

You can’t hide from social media.

And the irony is, in many cases, the organizations that try to hide are the ones that get the biggest blowback from their community online.

We have seen many examples over the years of this issue coming to the fore in terms of customer service. Whether it is someone complaining about poor Comcast reception, the quality of their Virgin Atlantic in-flight meal, or their Dell laptop battery, The truth of the matter is, just because an organization isn’t active in social media, it doesn’t mean there isn’t already an active community on social media talking about you. All of those examples I gave were cases when someone voiced a concern in the social media space. But they are all also happy endings—each of those brands recognized the importance of engaging with those unsatisfied customers and using social media as a way to let them know they were valued.

2. New technology is intimidating/overwhelming

The best way to address this concern is to simply avoid tech speak. Don’t be like these guys.

Never start a sentence with Twitter.

Don’t talk tactics.

Excite them with possibilities. Instead say, “IMAGINE if a dozen highly influential people told all their friends about our service/product/cause and got a bunch of those people to tell all of their friends? Well I think we can make that happen!”

Rememer, there is never a one-size-fits all solution, so make sure you have the right approach.

Make sure the message is coming from the right person. You need to be a trusted advisor.

And show what it can do for their business.

And then if they are interested in the nuts and bolts you can explain that there is already an active group of people on Twitter talking about your issue/service/product and that by reaching out to those folks in an open, transparent way, you just might be able to incorporate some of your key message points in their conversations.

3. I’m happy with the way things are.

Resistance to change is a tough nut to crack. It is usually based in fear of the unknown mixed in with a little bit of conformity and unwillingness to push boundaries.

Again, your best approach here is to avoid focusing on the platform you want to join. If you think they don’t want to change in the beginning, just wait until you start peppering the conversation with talk of QR Codes, crowdsourcing, and hashtags.

Talk about the results you expect to bring because of the campaign, how social media integrates with your overall marketing strategy. And bring in solid stats on the ways your target audience is already active in social media, what they are already talking about and where.

And if that doesn’t work, show them what your competitors are already doing in the space and how it is making a difference for them.

The only thing that is certain is change.

If you want to be relevant to your stakeholders, certainly you need to be able to address changes in the marketplace — whether it is social media or earned media, everything is changing on a continuous basis. It is all about relevancy.

As much as some of your bosses/clients/coworkers/etc may try to ignore it, social media is not going anywhere fast, and if you don’t embrace it as a new communication tool, you are likely to become obsolete. Fast.


I’d love to hear what you think.

And be sure to check out the two who joined me speaking at this event: Deborah Ager (whose presentation is here) and Brian Chambers (who said that in coming to DC from NY he felt he was descending on a “swampland.” Hmmmm.)

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