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A Response to “7 Reasons Why Executives Hate Social Media”

I came across this link in my email, 7 Reasons Why Executives Hate Social Media, and after reading this lovely piece of fiction, I believe that its intent is not to convey the real beliefs of Executives; rather, its true intent is to invoke responses, such the one I am about to give you, so as to identify these seven items as non-issues.

The word “hate” is an interesting word. According to the dictionary it means, “… a word that describes intense feelings of dislike.” But it is the psychological definition or application of the word that I believe is most appropriate here: “an ego state that wishes to destroy the source of its unhappiness.” This would change the title of this article to “7 Reasons Why Executives Wish to Destroy Social Media Because It Makes Them Unhappy.”


1) “online conversations could be dangerous, we’ll lose control of the brand”

Social media presents some unique challenges and opportunities to tap into new channels and reach a much more targeted audience. One thing important to note is that Social Media is not fundamentally different than any other change that happens in an industry or across industries, and it is up to the executives to decide whether to accept the change or dismiss it. But we all know that the dismissal of change is not an option. The fact remains that change is occurring, and it is to the benefit of all of the company, customers, and related partners to adopt the change. The challenges that are presented include:

  • Reorienting the organization to deliver value to the community first.
  • Brand stewardship by monitoring your brand wherever they are.

2) “Social media is a legal minefield”

That risk is involved in warfare doesn’t mean that one should not act. I honestly do not understand the issue. Of course there are legal issues. Only 0.1% of the law is written down on paper; the rest is argued in court. It therefore follows that all new business must be prepared, and those who lead win the game.

3) “Online negative feedback is a threat”

This is a real test of integrity. Would you lie in order to avoid a negative comment, or would you try to understand the issue and make adjustments where appropriate.

4) “I don’t want employees to be headhunted because of corporate blogging”

This is another test of integrity.  Granted that there is a culture shift going on as a result of social media.  People are communicating in new ways and reaching a much broader audience than with traditional channels.  However, this phenomenon is not limited to the employees of one company or a set of companies.  Rather, it is extended to all companies across the planet, and therefore, everyone is fair game.  But ask yourself why would an employee decide to leave one company to work for another?  Money?  Responsibility?  Change of interests?  And if this employee decides to leave his or her company for those reasons, would you, as the business owner, want to keep them under your service?  What benefit would maintaining this relationship yield?  Nothing positive, that’s for sure.

People come and go.  Attrition happens.  So, why fight it?  Accept it and move on with your business.

5) “That 2.0 stuff is just for techies”

Granted, emerging technology often suffers from the geek-appeal, but if your customers are paying attention to this new communications channel, so should you. Critical mass will soften the edges and bring the necessary enterprise integration.

6) “Social networking is a waste of (my) time”

A better way to state this is, “Social networking can be a waste of anyone’s time.” Drinking coffee all day too can be a waste of time.

7) “There is no ROI in Social media and corporate blogging in particular”

This statement is just false. Perhaps there is no elegant formula for it in somebody’s spreadsheet, but there definitely is ROI. We just need to figure out what it means and how to measure it. How was distance measured before rulers? Using thumbs and fingers and feet, and etc…

There is substantial research already published that illustrated the value of social media. The new metric is called Customer Affinity. The CMO Council published a report, “Customer Affinity: The New Measure of Marketing.” Here are a couple points from that report:

Why is customer affinity such a critical concept?

It is clear that soft metrics, such as brand awareness and satisfaction, do not adequately address the forces and factors that shape the customer’s intention and desire to do business with a particular company or brand. Indeed, our research shows that brand awareness, by itself, is a poor determinant of customer’s attachment and inclination for strategic, trusted and sustained relationships with vendors.

As part of the research conducted by the CMO Council, a new metric was created: Customer Affinity Index (CAI). The make-up of this index is comprised of the following six items:

  • Market understanding and response to needs: Customer engagement, insight, intimacy, and level of involvement in creating and specifying solutions
  • Product or service experience: Purchasing and ownership lifecycle, either direct fromthe vendor or through channel representatives
  • Brand perception and reputation: Awareness, recognition, editorial prominence, word-of-mouth, customer championing, industry leadership, awards, etc.
  • Communications quality and frequency: Resonance of value proposition, clarity of messages, incidence of contact, relevance of content, mode and incidence of delivery
  • Accessibility and availability of support: Call center, web site, on-site, field representatives, effectiveness in resolving problems
  • Corporate confidence, trust and credibility: Authority leadership, knowledge brokering, organizational culture, business practices and policies, social responsibility, compliance and governance.

How’s that for ROI!

Further Research

The results of the “Future of the Social Web Roundtable,” an event led by Forrester Research and held at SAP Palo Alto, identified four findings: (full report)

Finding 1

  • Prediction: Community will participate in all aspects of marketing/strategy, product development, and support.
  • Challenge: Yet brands will have difficulty managing the culture shift.
  • Solution: Develop a business program to create incremental benefits.

Finding 2

  • Prediction: Brands present and participate where organic communities exist -not just corporate created communities
  • Challenge: Reorientating the organization to deliver value to the community first.
  • Solution: Brands require monitoring tools, internal training and processes, in order to deliver value to communities where they exist.

Finding 3

  • Prediction: Work style evolves as employees collaborate beyond colleagues to get work done
  • Challenge: Yet rules within corporate culture prevent adoption
  • Solution: Develop strategy for internal process change

Finding 4

  • Prediction: One identity with controllable multiple facets empowers users to control their web experience.
  • Challenge: Industry does not agree what should be portable, and how it should be, resulting in no trust
  • Solution: Despite this being a prediction, market demand doesn’t yet exist to spur adoption and innovation


I leave you with a quote from Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

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  • 1. Executives in general have very little time – and social media takes time. Already emails eat up a lot of their time, so tweets and blogs have to wait in line.

    2. Legal minefield is not a small issue. In a law suit friendly world, it is justified to be weary of legal issues. If an employee lets out product flaws or features in the next release inadventantly, the company might end up spending a lot of time and money . Till some kind of legal protection is made by law, this concern won’t go away in a hurry.

    3. Lack of penetration of analytics in social media is a major factor preventing executives from seeing the value. If more content aggregation, and unstructured analytics are built into the business process – executives will become big fans. But this is still an evolving space.

    4. I have seen a few execs blog – when in fact it is some one in their staff that blogs by proxy. Does that mean execs are taking to social media?  I guess not.