By Wes Vaughan
Please forgive me for my grade school humor, but it seems to me that Social Media is an A&B Train and you can either “C” your way on or “C” your way off.
Yes, it appears that Social Media is here to stay…for now at least. There are many proponents that swear it’s the future of business. There are many detractors that still don’t believe in it (“What’s my ROI?”). Either side of the fence you stand on, you cannot argue that Social Media is everywhere right now.
Our Cresa Atlanta office had our “Social Media Kickoff” and first ever training session recently. Out of 24 Advisors, I would venture a guess that 12 of us showed up (I’m sure it was just Spring Break). The attendees ranged from a handful of us who have embraced the world of Social Media – we use LinkedIn for business, we Tweet, we Post, we write blogs (or at least we’re starting to) and we have a comfortable seat on that A&B Train. There was another handful of our group that looked like they were forced into the Ludovico technique seen in A Clockwork Orange:
There were two individuals in particular that were flabbergasted by what they were listening to; you could see the beads of sweat on their brows, fists clenched, knuckles white. I believe one of the quotes overheard was “My heart is beating out of my chest right now” (thankfully, no paramedics were needed).
A recent study conducted by PulsePoint Group found that companies that fully embrace social engagement are experiencing four times greater business impact than less-engaged companies. Another study from BRANDfog found that 82% polled said they trusted a company more when top executives communicated via social media. Another 77% said they were more likely or much more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media to define company values.
Many executives, however, still aren’t buying into the power of social media. According to BRANDfog, 61% of Fortune 500 brands were connecting with customers via Twitter as of January 2012, but less than 2.5% of those companies’ CEOs were actively participating on Twitter. PulsePoint Group found that a full 28% of C-suite executives still don’t believe in social engagement. Their number one reason was the inability to gauge ROI, which seems to be the primary doubt of non-believers across the board. One of the hesitant brokers in our office remembers hearing a CFO of a large corporation say about Social Media: “I just don’t need to have another thing in my life that I have to react to right now.”
Perhaps nobody has really figured out how to best use social media yet. After all, did companies really know how to tackle setting up websites back in the late 1990s? And look at where we are now: if your company does not have a website, does it really exist? Check out this Social Media Revolution video to give you a fresh perspective on this developing “trend.” Generations Y and Z think e-mail is old fashioned and some colleges and universities have stopped distributing email accounts. Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30 years old. Heck, my three year old knows how to open and watch Lightning McQueen videos on YouTube without even asking me for help…seriously. If one of your clients, customers or prospects can’t find you or your company multiple times on the first page of their Google search in five years, do you really exist?
The Train is leaving the station. What are you going to do? Me? I’ve lost a step or two (or eight) since my athletic days and I don’t want to pull a hamstring trying to catch that Train. As Erik Qualman says: “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we do it.” So what do you have to lose? If you spend an extra 30 minutes a day engaged in pushing your name out there via Social Media, do you think that’s going to hurt your business today? Over the next five years? You never know who’s checking you out online…you might just impress your next biggest client with what you have to say. Might be a one in a million chance of that happening, but as Lloyd Christmas once said: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?!”