5 Common Fears about Social Media

Here are the most common fears that business leaders have when it comes to jumping into social media cold turkey:

1.  I’m afraid I’ll look stupid because I don’t already know this stuff.

The Fear: “If I ask for help or if the “young people” find out that I’m clueless about social media I’m going to feel really out of the loop.  I secretly fear that people are going to make fun of me behind my back.”

The Fact: Part of being a good leader is knowing when you don’t know something.  You’ve got to know when to ask for help… bottom line.  Plus, guess what?  Everyone else has the same fear!  Even the young techy people who you think are so confident and plugged in don’t even know everything.  And if they do have vast amounts of digital knowledge it doesn’t mean they have any business sense at all concerning what to do with their knowledge or how to run a business.  ”Every man I meet is my superior in some way,” said Emerson.  ”In that, I learn of him.”

2. I’m afraid it will be a huge waste of time.

The Fear:  “I’m afraid I’m going take precious time away from my normal work trying to understand what the heck Twitter is but I’m just going to get frustrated and regret having spent so much time on it when I could have been doing other things.”

The Fact: No business grows without research and long-range planning.  Understanding social media is one of those long range planning situations where you have to know what’s happening so you can be ready to adjust your business in the future.  It’s not going to be something that will have a payoff the next day or the next week.  It’s more like taking a college class or investing in the stock market… the payoff comes later and you’re always are glad you did it.

3.  I’m afraid that after someone teaches me that I won’t understand it.

The Fear: “I’m afraid that I just won’t get it.  I’ve had people try to show me stuff before but I just can’t seem to get it. I don’t want to look stupid if I try to learn about social media and then can’t understand it.”

The Fact: If you don’t understand something then maybe it’s less about you as a learner and more about who’s been teaching you.  If you’re not a person who’s familiar with a lot of the online world then you need someone to teach you in a style you can understand with visual aids and using clear analogies.  We think anyone can learn this you just need a good teacher.

4.  I’m afraid of social media amplifying my own company’s shortcomings and bad public opinion.

The Fear:  “I’m afraid that some customers who don’t like our product or who have had a bad experience will hijack our social media channels and just start ranting about how much they hate us and our product.  I’m afraid that opening all these avenues of communication will take us out of control and open up the field to all the people who have had bad experiences with our company for whatever reason.”

The Fact:  People who have had a bad experience are going to share about it 10 times more than a person who has a good experience. This is a tried and true principle.  In olden days this consisted of a telephone call or whine-fest at a random friends get together, after church, etc… Now that communication forum has moved online.  From a business perspective it is actually more of an opportunity for good than for bad.  When the conversation happens online then you are able to see exactly how customers are framing their dissatisfaction AND you have the opportunity to employ some good customer service and try to make it right via communicating with the disgruntled folks directly.  Your business couldn’t do that back in the pre-digital world.

5. I’m afraid of being totally overwhelmed.

The Fear: “I’m afraid that once this process starts I am going to get totally overwhelmed and lost.  Like trying to learn Chinese in a weekend.”

The Fact: Focus on the philosophy behind social media, let the details follow.  Take it one step at a time.  Latch on to helpful analogies and visual aids.  When you start to get overwhelmed take a break and remind yourself of a recent accomplishment where you did successfully learn something.  Remember, people who you consider experts have been learning this stuff day and night for years.  You can gain the knowledge you need just be patient and trust that time and effort are going to pay off in the long run.

  1. Great post . I would add ” I am afraid I don’t have the time.”
    “I am afraid it really doesn’t work – prove it to me “

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