This article originally ran on PR Daily in November of 2016.
Social media is the place to be.
Reporters and editors talk about it; you hear about it from your employees and salespeople. You might even hear it rattling around in your own head—interrupting quiet moments before bedtime.
If you’re not a regular user, you have a lot to learn.
Social media is a place where brands win and lose—sometimes in the same day.
Social media marketing and advertising are critical to a company’s lead generation. All social channels must deliver reasons that compel your customers to choose you.
Social media requires continual campaigns to attract, engage and convert consumers.
When the job is to connect with today’s hyper-connected buyers, social media are invaluable. However, it’s not for everyone. There are obstacles to overcome. A big operational commitment is required to realize social media’s full potential.
Before you give social media marketing and social advertising the green light, consider these five warning signs:
1. You think social media is free.
No. Social media means pay-to-play. Facebook has become a valuable revenue-generating tool.
Social media requires investments:
Even before Facebook’s algorithms restricted content, rendering it pay-to-play, social media was not free.
Social media marketing calls for skills. It’s much more difficult to get results today than in the past. Social advertising (Facebook ads) has become very lucrative but the skills needed to succeed are uncommon, if not unique.
Mastering social media marketing requires relevant, engaging content on select channels. Balancing your brand’s message with the needs and wants of your customers and prospects is no easy task. It takes expertise and that is not free.
Social is also an imperative channel in your SEO. Content originating on your website that’s published on social media and then clicked on is one of the criteria that establish authority on search engines.
If you’re not ready to allocate a reasonable budget and manpower, you’re not ready for social media.
2. You’re a perfectionist and recoil at the notion of “transparency and authenticity.”
Social media is social. Social means community, conversations, publicity, a shared collective, alignment of values, and in some cases a party or gathering. If these terms send shivers down your spine, you’re not ready for social media.
Emotions play an important part in marketing and sales. Evoking buyers’ emotions is the goal of all marketing and social media is great for it. If you’re a person who’s uncomfortable connecting with others in a business setting, social media may not be for you.
Today, the more transparent and authentic you can be (both online and offline) gets great results on social media.
Marketing is not linear. Data and tactics are important but there’s an equally important creative element, especially in content creation. Stories and good storytelling boost success on social media. Authenticity and transparency contribute to the story so if you’re one who never wavers from established tactics and scientific absolutes, you’re not ready for social media.
3. Your customers’ experiences tend to be more negative than positive.
The results of customer experiences show readily on online ratings sites.
This warning sign has everything to do with how well a company knows its customers and whether or not the company lives up to its brand promise.
Online reputation management includes leader-based operations with systems and processes that focus on delighting customers … and it makes for a great social presence.
When employee satisfaction is low, customer experiences will be negative. If this is the situation at your company, you’re not ready for social media.
4. You’re uncomfortable with employee participation in social media.
Your customers perceive employees as “people like me.” Employees are trusted more than any representative or manager in your company. Happy employees who share their expertise in content on your website and social media send a very clear message to prospects: “This company is trustworthy and I can feel safe and comfortable doing business with them.”
When you showcase employees as thought leaders in your industry , your company receives more recognition online. Employees reap the benefit of their voices being broadcasted, paving the way for more referrals, leads and sales.
The company looks smarter because its employees look smarter.
Senior executives who give employees a voice get noticed.
If you’re unable to foster an open environment and provide training in content creation and collaboration, you’ll have a difficult time on social media. If you’re unable to set up a process to capture and publish stories of employees’ expertise to attract more buyers, you’re not ready to use social media.
5. Your organization lacks a central focus and detailed marketing plan.
I’ve had a handful of clients who, after a few months, were unable to fully commit to social media. They gave it their best shot. In in the end, it was better to pull back and regroup.
These situations come about when a company isn’t focused on its business goals. Marketing plans help companies design strategies to achieve their goals.
Take a hard look at what you’re able to adapt to right now. There’s a solution for every step of the way. Try not to get stuck.
Kathi Kruse is an automotive social media expert, blogger, author, speaker and founder of Kruse Control. A version of this article originally appeared on the Kruse Control blog.