Lately, no matter what company I talk to, or where they are in the process of using social media, the road blocks always seem to be caused by the same thing…
Fear occurs when there are two camps working within a company — people who want to do something new, and people who don’t want to do it, (or hate the fact that you’re doing it already.)
The only way to move forward is for the former camp to manage the fear and reservations of the latter camp — whether those fears are based in reality, (“What if social media isn’t the right tool to achieve our marketing goals?”) or their imagination, (“What if we mess up in social media and our customers laugh at us?”)
In order to facilitate this process, I use an exercise called The Ladder of Fear.
(Yes, I know it sounds like a ride at an amusement park.)
Where do your people sit on the ladder?
I’ve found that the person (or people) tasked with making social media happen at a company generally fall into one of the following categories. They are…
- Excited to take on social media and have the authority to make it happen.*
- Ready to take on social media, but struggling to make it happen.
- Resigned to taking on social media, but doubtful that they can make it happen.
- Ambivalent about social media, and will do anything to avoid doing the work to make it happen.
- Feeling pressured to do social media, and exhausted by the thought of making it happen.
- Convinced that social media is ridiculous and will stand in the way of making it happen.
Movin on up…
The first step to resolving fear is to figure out where the people who are tasked with social media at your company sit on the ladder. (If you have more than one person responsible for social, lump them together and try to figure out where the majority sits.)
For example, if the person tasked with making social media happen at your company thinks that social is stupid and is opposed to it, don’t waste your time trying to turn them into a champion of the idea. That’s too many rungs up the ladder for them to move all at once.
Instead, accept that your road toward getting things done will be a longer one. Shift your focus to educating this person about the tangible values associated with social media and try to move them from a position of opposing and thwarting your plans, to being unhappily resigned to the fact that social media needs to happen someday.
Making a move this small may feel like a hallow victory. But, in the long run, it is a truer, more productive one.
These smaller moves enable you to identify tangible next steps (e.g. “Bring in a consultant to present case studies to our CMO on how social media has helped companies like ours, in hopes of getting approval to conduct an audit on our existing online footprint”) instead of lofty, amorphous goals, (e.g. “Get CMO on board with social media.”)
And, by adjusting your expectations (instead of wishing away your problems) you can create a clear path to help your company move forward…and ultimately upward.
*Of the calls I get, approximately 0% fall into this category.