I think it’s safe to say that social media is here to stay.  With social media comes social media marketing.  That being the case, why are many Board members, managers and decision-makers reluctant to participate?  Let me share some and how to respond to some of the most common reasons for not embracing social media marketing.  Here are just four examples:

1. What if someone says something really bad about our organisation?

Response:  If someone has something bad to say about your organisation, they are already saying it and probably all over social media.  Participating in social media marketing provides an opportunity to hear and respond to those comments.  Ignoring negative feedback can back fire and come off as arrogant. Risk management principles can be used to guide responses to various scenarios.  I’ll outline an example of risk management principles in another post.

Traditional media channels provide an example of how ignoring what is being said doesn’t make it go away.  If your organisation is splashed across TV and newspaper headlines for a terrible crime, choosing not to consume those headlines does not mean the heat goes off you.  At least social media marketing allows you a right of reply and you can apologise, put your case forward or attempt to right a wrong.  Social media marketing allows you to embrace your very own publishing platform so you can choose what story to publish about yourself.

2. Social media is 24/7 and we don’t have the staff to monitor it?

Yes, social media is around the clock but that doesn’t mean you have to be.  Social media monitoring tools allow you to see what is being said about your organisation and anything else that might be relevant.  The important thing is to ensure you monitor and then allow a bit of time each day to respond as necessary.  Your Board might be surprised by how much can be achieved with just one quarantined hour per day.  The key is to ensure that whoever is charged with that one hour per day does not get distracted by the many funny cat memes and what their buddies had for breakfast. Implementing a plan and use of analytics are both good tools to ensure a worthwhile ROI.

3. Social media is a ‘marketing’ thing and we don’t do marketing or we market in other ways?

The very nature of social media platforms means that users can publish and converse about your organisation whether you participate or not. According to Keeping Good Companies (Issue April 2013), social media is not just a ‘marketing’ issue.  For example, in a listed company, rumours of a takeover could emerge on a social media forum, gain momentum quickly and even trigger an article in mainstream media.  ASX recently released the revised Guidance Note 8 on continuous disclosure, which contains specific reference to the need for listed entities to monitor investors blogs, chat sites or other social media that regularly post comments about the entity.  Being unaware of social media, or choosing not to participate, odes not eliminate risk to brand reputation.

4. What if someone threatens to kills themselves or other dangerous claims and we don’t respond?

You might be surprised that I’ve heard this one many times now.  If Lifeline can be on social media then surely other NFPs can, especially those that don’t work in the space of helping those in need.  It is perfectly reasonable and ok to note on your social media platforms that you cannot respond in an emergency.  Clearly state that the platform is not monitored around the clock and in case of emergency then contact 000 (or 911 or equivalent for countries outside Australia).  That does not remove any sense of moral obligation that Board or managers may have but the risk and likelihood of such an event are low especially if you are in an unrelated field.