What scares you most this Hallowe’en

Ghosts and ghouls are abroad as we launch the Galia Digital website!

Fear of the unknown keeps the kids on the edge of their seats.  For the little ones, the unknown is the dark, the stories, the things that go bump in the night – but for too many businesses, the unknown is the internet, and in particular the mysteries and interactions of social media.

At the 2011 Marketing 2.0 Conference in Paris, the Brand Science Institute presented the results of research into the use and effectiveness of social media by businesses (http://slidesha.re/es1a76 ).

BSI identified four stages in business use of social media: Confusion, Orientation, Formation and Integration.  We’d like to add a fifth, primary stage: fear!  Because the internet isn’t tangible, you can’t see what is hiding around the corner, but there’s really very little to be scared of.

Around 80% of companies are using social media, spending around a fifth of their marketing budget here – but it is so easy to get it wrong.  As with all good statistics, a small group account for the majority of the successful campaigns.  So where are the rest going wrong, and how can small businesses learn from their experiences and take the opportunity effectively?

Stage one: Conquering Fear

The biggest misconception is that social media is ‘a marketing campaign’ – but it isn’t, it’s a two-way communication channel.  Customers are no longer happy to be talked ‘at’ but expect to be able to interact and have their voices heard.

Companies have to manage this new conversation while sticking to the message and image they want to portray.  This is where we see the most fear – what do I do if there is a negative comment, a review which is unjustified?  How do I respond? Do I delete the comment?  How do I respond without fanning the flames?  How much time will I spend away from my business keeping track of all this new activity?

So, trick or treat?  Will the internet give you a fright, or be the source of some harmless banter?  Once you have been guided around the social media space by someone who has been there before, you’ll be better able to cope with the surprises.

Stage two: Clearing up the Confusion

We’ve all experienced this when faced with a new channel of communication.  Imagine walking into a party where you don’t know many people – or you’re the only one dressed as a pumpkin!  Even a regular Facebook user can find it hard to grasp how to use Twitter effectively; an experienced personal user can make mistakes when starting to talk on behalf of their business; a business bringing its message online for the first time can be completely disoriented by how fast social media moves, and how reactive it can be.

It’s vital to get past these first stages and interact naturally with social media, as this is where you start to see a true return on investment – but  47% of companies ‘just give it a try’, abandoning the trial as confused as when they started out.

Researchers also found that 70% of businesses have no clear objectives for social media.  A good online strategist like Galia Digital can help you through the early stages by observing where your industry is active, helping define your objectives, and building a well structured plan.  We can also kickstart that plan on your behalf, working together so that you gradually gain the confidence and skills to get it right long term.