When a company decides to embrace social media, everyone becomes an eternal optimist. Whatever services are selected, there is no doubt they are going to take the world by storm.
If it’s a Facebook Page, there will be thousands of “Likes” within months, if not weeks. On Twitter, there will be a stampede of followers. And a blog will attract lots of comments and in-bound links from other blogs and Web sites.
In the wake of all this bullishness, it becomes obvious there are a few things companies don’t want to hear because it would ruin the mood. These include:
1. Social media is a game of inches, not miles. While some companies hit the jackpot by attracting a lot of followers out of gate, most companies are lucky if they see slow, but steady, progress. It means that instant-gratification may be difficult to discover, and that success could takes many months rather than days or weeks.
2. Social media is grunt work. From the outside looking in, it’s glamorous with lots of shimmery tools. In reality, social media can be tough slogging that needs to happen each and every day.
3. There is a never-ending need for fresh content. Social media is a beast that is always hungry and never satisfied. One of the keys to engaging consumers is giving them a steady diet of content – be it blog posts, updates, videos, polls, photos, tweets or contests.
4. Social media can be an expensive proposition, particularly if you’re lucky enough to be successful. While the tools are free, it costs money to hire people to operate social media, create content, monitor activity, and engage with consumers. If a company’s social media efforts succeed, it may have to hire more people to support the growing amount of activity.
5. The ROI of social media can be challenging to measure. The thing about social media is often it can’t be measured in isolation. It may be easy to quantify the number of followers or “Likes” but extrapolating the impact on leads and sales can be difficult to pin down because there may be other factors – direct mail, advertising, etc. – that also have an impact.
If a company isn’t prepared to consider these realities, there is a real danger it will have unrealistic expectations of what social media can achieve. As a result, it may be easily disappointed when things don’t exactly go as planned.