June 04, 2008 |
In spite of the recent upswing in early adopters using social media sites like Twitter, FaceBook and FriendFeed to improve their businesses, a shockingly high number of companies are getting left behind as they refuse to embrace this new technology. Stuck in a rut based in misunderstanding, they cut employees off from the online world, a decision which leaves them trailing behind their more innovative competition.
The inspiration from this article came when I had to send a real, paper fax while at an office today. I realized how long it had been since I plugged in my own fax machine, let alone sent anything by fax at all. I have been scanning and sending documents for years now to operate a truly paperless home office.
I became curious, so I asked the business owner about internet time for his staff. I was told that the company discouraged internet use, going so far as to only have two email addresses for the entire company of 30 people. What would make him choose to keep his company so isolated, when he could benefit froma larger presence online? Fear. Granted, this person is an extreme example, but the fear of new media is very real, nonetheless.
Even after all this time, many old world employers not only don't understand new media, and they fear the impact it might have on employees. Because they can only focus on the small picture of office productivity and how much "ownership" they have of a person for 8 hours a day, they lose sight of the ways that new media and social applications can actually help their office become better.
Focusing on the big picture and how social media can help your business grow is becoming more and more essential. Is everyone on social sites like FaceBook, Twitter or FriendFeed ? No, but a business's up and coming target demographic is, and its employees most likely are. It's time for businesses to loose the fear and embrace the social.
I love using Gary Vaynerchuk as an example of someone in an old world business who is using social media in the best way possible to grow and expand his business and his brand, but he isn't the only one. Companies like Zappos are using social media as well. Will It Blend commercials by BlendTec have dominated YouTube for years. If these people can make wine, shoes and a high strength blender exciting for the young social media crowd, imagine what other companies could do if they were willing to try.
Other reasons companies give for eschewing social media include a fear of having sensitive data compromised, a fear that employees might do things online that reflect badly on the company, a fear that sensitive company secrets may leak, a fear that productivity will drop and more. Fear only serves to hold you back. I see social media as a way to get your brand out there, to weed out employees who are careless with their image and the company image, and upgrade security practices to embrace new technology.
The economy is changing at lightening speeds. It is global, it is fluctuating, in many places it is thriving in spite of (or perhaps because of) a slowdown in the United States economy, and it is within a company's reach if they are willing to stretch for it and try something new. Go ahead and let your employees spread the word about your company online. Develop a strategy for marketing that involves social medi, including creating pages for your company on exisiting site like FaceBook so that your demographic has a chance to embrace you on their own terms – take some risks. Companies will be surprised how fast they can grow their business by responsible social interaction that doesn't involve restrictions on their employees or spam to other internet users.
Image courtesy TechDigest.Tv