Social Media For Business: 5 Signs You Are Ready

Does social media really matter to your business? How will you know?

Earlier this month, Ad Age Digital’s B.L. Ochman revealed that Less than half of the top 50 companies have social icons on their websites:

“Only 44% of the Fortune 50 have any social media icons on their home pages, and 60% hide their Twitter streams. Call Inspector Clouseau if you want to find the rest. Kind of amazing considering the prevalence of social buttons of all types all over the web.”

I’m stymied too. These market-making companies drive many commercial trends. What they do matters to you and me every day. They have an amazing opportunity to build relationships. Yet, you’d be surprised how few of them link to their social presence on their home pages.

General Electric probably helped you get ready for work this morning.  You pass hundreds of Ford cars, thousands of Goodyear tires  and dozens of Exxon/Mobil stations on your way there. You’ve got AT&T in your iPhoneHewlett-Packard in your office, and Bank of America in your wallet. These companies all have a social media presence. But from their front pages, you’d never know it. What are they waiting for?

Cindy’s Diner, where I go to get the best coffee on the planet, is a brisk walk down one of the back streets. Cindy knows she needs to gain an advantage any way she can. So she has a website with the icons on it. She invites me to ‘Like’ her Facebook page, right there on her handwritten specials chalkboard. She asks for my email address when I purchase a muffin. She even puts a QR Code on the receipt.

She’s not waiting.

To be fair, Cindy’s business is a lot more nimble than a Fortune 50 company. She can decide whether or not to start tweeting, sharing, and blogging about coffee, muffins, and her business. She and a few employees can make regular updates and keep current. If she has a website, Cindy can copy and paste social media icons into her site using a content management system and it’s live.

To be fair, Cindy doesn’t have a board of directors, an IT department, a web oversight team, a legal division, or a branding agency. A Fortune 50 company can’t simply slap up a few icons because the marketing folks think it’s cool. Still, I have to wonder if they plan to integrate their social strategy more fully, if they’re still thinking about it, or if they’ve reached the point where they’ve decided against it – until social media starts to matter to them.

And when’s that?

Many companies are waiting “for social media to matter” to their business, without realizing it is up to them to make it matter. A robust social presence may matter to you if:

  • Your customers often make spur-of-the-moment decisions based on impressions, and not just a painstaking deliberative process.
  • Your customers are impressed by your brand’s reach and engagement, not just portfolio holdings, valuation and strategic partnerships.
  • Your customers have a relationship with their favorite brands that goes beyond awareness or loyalty – they achieve inclusion.
  • Your customers seek out information and reviews about your products from places other than just your website.
  • Your company holds a unique viewpoint on industry and technology trends that is worth listening to.

If any of these are true, you will benefit from social media, even if all it does is make you more accessible. Even if all you are doing is keeping up with competitors, at least your customers see you working to reach them in new ways. They see the Try. And with social media, as in all relationship-building efforts, the Try is what matters.