How To Fight The Social Media Stigma

by Andrew Hanelly |
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“So, you like, Tweet for a living?” The thinly veiled mocker quietly asks.

“No, I mean, like, seriously? That stuff is kind of a waste of time, isn’t it? Well, at least you get to be on Facebook all day.”

The veil is dropped and the disdain shows its face. You’ve just met the social media stigma – the reason nearly half of all brands are not sure of social marketing’s value.

“This social media stuff sounds fun, but is there really a point?”

Doubt and Fear Ahead - Shutterstock - Andy Dean PhotographyYou’ve heard this before. You tell them about the sea change. You give them an analogy about a flood coming. You tell them they can either build a levee or grab a surfboard. The analogy worked better in your head.

“I want real ROI. I want proof that Facebook will help me sell more widgets.”

You think of case studies. You scramble to think of statistics. You marvel at the demand there must be for widgets. Your mind spins in the million different ways you can answer this question.

You think:

It’s not about Facebook. It’s not about Twitter. It’s definitely not about Chatroullete. Or surfboards.

It’s about the risk of missing out.

It’s about the risk of leaving your customer alone with your competitor in a space your customer really, really seems to like.

But they want numbers. They want the business reason. They ask again: “Why social media?”

Tell them because:

Because whether you like it or not, your customers do.

But still, the stigma lives on. Was it something we said?

… Can’t You See? Sometimes Your Words Just Stigmatize Me

Cynics, naysayers, and doubters like to apply the following erroneous logic to social media: It looks like it is fun, so it can’t be work.  And they say that people have an allergic reaction to unnecessary jargon. Words like “ninja,” “guru,” and “rockstar,” cause people to roll their eyes and dismiss the business value social media might otherwise bring to the table. Their mechanic doesn’t refer to himself like that, why does a social media practitioner need to?

But credibility doesn’t come from the name of something – it comes from the ability to get things done. And like a mechanic, it also doesn’t come from the tools it comes from the proper use of them.

If we relabeled all the un-serious names we’ve given things (these concepts aren’t new, only our names for them are) with real-world nomenclature would other people start taking the medium more seriously?

It almost doesn’t matter, because:

Wallets, Mouths, and Things People Open

At the end of every communication – regardless of medium – there are people who are ready to either open their wallets or mouths. Social media is no different, but it doesn’t always get the respect it deserves as a medium.

But there are real people – with wallets and mouths – that are interacting on social media every day.

Would you ignore this if you replaced “social media” with anything else?

There are people, with wallets and mouths, watching TV.
There are people, with wallets and mouths, listening to radio.
There are people, with wallets and mouths, reading magazines.
There are people, with wallets and mouths, using social media.

Isn’t it worth it to be there with them, wherever the people are? They’re going to be opening one or the other.

IMAGE: Doubt and Fear Ahead by Andy Dean Photography on Shutterstock.com.

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About the Author

Andrew Hanelly

Andrew is SVP, Strategy for McMurry/TMG and for one semester in college, was a sociology major. He writes at Brain on Digital, as @hanelly on Twitter and here on Google+.