Part of what I do for a living is educate business people from the rank and file up through the C-level in organizations regarding Internet and social media monitoring. What I find fascinating is the resistance that many VPs, EVPs and C-level types put up, with regard to them actually learning something about the Internet space.
Typical responses when talking about their own level of education in this mission critical space include
- I don’t have the time
- I don’t need to know it since I have people to do that for us
- We get our business by referrals
- I don’t get involved with those time wasters
There are many more but let’s examine what is really behind each one of the excuses above.
I don’t have the time – Of the excuses I hear most often this one has some legitimacy in most cases. Upper level people in an organization are very busy and have limited time to sit and learn something new. Therein, however, lies the rub. If you are not taking the time to at least have a solid foundational understanding of the Internet space as it relates to your business then how can you make business decisions about the space moving forward? Do you rely on or trust others so explicitly that you would risk your position based on their knowledge without having a check or balance system? I would hope not.
I don’t need to know it since I have people who do that for me – First I would ask if said executive knew the name or names of the people working in that area for the company. Do you know what their level of experience and business acumen is? Do you know how they position your business in the online space where what they say is amplified and magnified thus making errors even bigger than they should be? What kind of reporting do you receive about these activities and their success or failure? Are the efforts of these people contributing to the bottom line? How much or how little?
We get our business by referrals – That’s great and I congratulate you. Have you ever wondered how many referrals you lost as a result of your online presence? Did you know that 85% of people who get a referral from a trusted source STILL go out and research more? Do you know how you stack up to the competition head to head in the online world where most referral comparisons are taking place? Do you know enough about the Internet space to recognize trouble if you saw it?
I don’t get involved in those time wasters – Once again, good for you but that doesn’t mean anything. Whether you are actively engaged or not is not the issue. The issue is what are your customers and prospects doing in the online space to impact their decisions whether they should continue to work with you or start to at all. how are they using it and how is your company responding to their needs. Doing it yourself helps one to understand how social medai works but it’s not a requirement for a basic understanding of the discipline.
What is really being said by people who use excuses like those mentioned above is that “I am uncomfortable with the online space but I can’t admit it for fear of being found out.” Or they are saying “I suspect there are issues in this area but nothing has hurt us yet so I will continue to roll the dice with my online presence and reputation.” Or maybe they are saying “It’s too much information and I just don’t see how I can get to it all.”
Who knows? I will, however, say this – If upper level management of a company is not actively pursuing a base level understanding of the Internet and social media marketing space their business is going to hit a rough patch. Hopefully it will be something they can recover from but there’s no guarantees are there.