There are still quite a few businesses and non-profits out there that have not made the social media leap, despite the fact that YouTube surpasses Google as a search engine and Facebook is one of the largest communities, online or otherwise, in the world. What I’ve discovered in conversations with multiple such organizations is that fear of the uncontrolled chatter that is social media is a very real thing. Ultimately, only you can decide if you are willing to make the leap (and the commitment) to social media. There are multitudes of resources available discussing the value of social media, including the Boost Your Social Status article in the April 2011 edition of the COSE Update to which I contributed, that I encourage you read. However, there are a few common fears that I’ve heard arise – angry posters, hackers and time – that I thought I could address here and possibly help calm your nerves.
- If you are listening to your constituent audiences now and they are not yelling at you, then launching a social media presence isn’t likely to cause a bunch of angry dwarfs to crawl out from under the rocks to chase after you with big sticks. On the other hand, if there are angry or malcontented sections of your constituent audiences, then it is definitely in your best interests to address them directly and talk to them. They don’t need you to have a social media presence in order to use the web to express their anger. Having a social media presence, however, gives you a platform to be a part of their conversation. As long as you genuinely listen and respond and don’t yell back, you will make positive progress that you weren’t able to make with this audience without a presence.
- If you have a website, you already have a web presence that hackers and crawlers and other evil doers can abuse. Having a social media presence doesn’t quadruple your exposure to these delinquents. There are blocks, spam reporters, language filters and (on blogs) approval prior to visibility options available to help combat such reckless behavior. People would not continue to use social media with the fervor that they currently do if these tools did not work.
- Yes, social media takes time. There’s no way around this fact. As does everything else you do. However, if you create a social media strategy and lay out a schedule for yourself, you can maximize that time. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes a day to check your social media, post and respond. That’s all it takes. It’s not that bad. Really.