Here be dragons…
It still astounds me that many people I talk to in the business world see the Internet as ‘new’. They see it as a shiny new technology that really isn’t for them and is probably just a place to download music, movies and look at pictures of dogs doing funny things. Their only encounter with this wild frontier is when attempting to install software to stop their kids visiting unsavoury websites at home. Yes, the Internet means danger and as long as they don’t have to; they’re not going to get involved.
Now if these people were just sat at their desks minding their own business and pushing paper around it wouldn’t bother me, but they’re actually high-powered execs running companies. They’re at the forefront of local economies and they are directly responsible for the livelihoods of their employees, their suppliers and their customers. And yet, as if prospecting a map that tells of danger if they venture into uncharted waters, they stay clear of a technology that could directly boost their bottom line, increase their reach and take their company to a whole new marketplace.
The Industrial Revolution was littered with people who thought the old ways of doing things were the best ways and yet the companies that survived were those that innovated. In relative terms, this wasn’t that long ago – have people forgotten already? It appears so. It doesn’t seem to matter how many facts you level at people or how many times you show them the media reports (which is hysterical with good news about social websites), they hide behind their desks and ignore everyone.
However there’s worse to come because there are then those bosses who do ‘see the light’ and suddenly declare that they wish to become part of this new wave of technological advance and tell everyone about it, including the poor IT guy who has to set it all up for them. These bosses are really difficult because they have seen others who have prospered through the likes of Twitter and Facebook and they think “If we did that, we could make it big too…” But their biggest crime is thinking that if they set up their first Twitter account on Friday, they will have made their first sale by Monday.
In days of old, these were the opportunists who, ignoring the pictures of monsters on old maps would set sail anyway with the hope of discovering a pot of gold and returning home to live a life of luxury. Unfortunately, if they returned at all then it was usually with a depleted crew, a damaged ship and nothing but some strange new exotic disease with which to prove their adventure.
Like everything, it takes time. Expecting Twitter or Facebook to change your company’s fortunes overnight is optimistic by any-one’s standards but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Sadly, our “want everything now” attitude has created a world where we can’t simply take our time and do the legwork in order to make our mark on the world. Yes, Twitter is a quick way of getting your message out there but no, you won’t make a million tomorrow.
If you want to take social media seriously then it needs to be measured, goal oriented and strategic, just like everything else in business.