Seven lame, business-killing excuses for not having a social media presence.

It's time to stop making lame excuses for not having a social media presence.
It’s time to stop making lame excuses for not having a social media presence.

This article was selected as 1 of 1 million WordPress posts to be on Freshly Pressed where it created a momentary sensation and 15 minutes of social media fame for me. It’s two years old now, and clients are still making excuses so I am running it first to remind you all that it’s about time started on this Facebook thing.

1. You’re too busy.

I don’t think social media is optional anymore. A professional presence in social media is now a marketing necessity, like a business card or a website. You can’t afford not to have a social media presence. You’ll look like a Luddite, like you’re out of step, like you’re stuck in the Eighties — when people actually got their news from a newspaper, bought things from ads, looke for businesses in the Yellow pages, and were influenced by television.

For most businesses and professions, social media is important. Make an investment in social media, plan your strategy first, do it right, and you’ll be paid back ten-fold.

Updating your profile and sending out Twitter updates can become part of your regular routine — like brushing your teeth, answering email and checking your voice mail.

Using free tools, you can interlink all of your social profiles — so that your Twitter automatically updates Facebook, your blog and LinkedIn. You can update everything simultaneously from your mobile phone in a few minutes a day.

2. You don’t “get” this social media thing.

When you tell stories in public, not only do they have to be true (fact checked, verified, libel-free and legal), accurate, spell-checked and well written, but your story needs to be interesting, engaging and continually evolving. If you’re not naturally good at that, or you don’t have time, you’ll want to hire professional help.

Ultimately, you’ll need to be engaged on a daily basis. Celebrities, consultants, musicians, workshop leaders, public speakers and CEOs who “get” social media make it a priority and are personally involved. You can also outsource social updating to a pro. But make sure they take time to truly know and understands your business, know how to tell an engaging story, have a “voice” and “get” the culture, ethics and rules of the community you’re trying to reach.

3. You can’t afford it.

Everything you need is free. If you hire a consultant, you can get a lot of value from a few hours of his/her time setting your site up and coaching you on the unwritten secrets, tips and tricks of really using Social Media brilliantly.

4. You don’t need it.

Just like you “didn’t need” a website back in 2000. Everyone else jumped on the bandwagon, killed brick and mortar businesses, got all the cool urls and are now worth millions. Are you going to miss out on this land grab too?

500 million people worldwide are utilizing Facebook to create their personal brand. Many events are solely promoted on Facebook. You are really late to the program and totally out of the loop and out of touch if you have a stagnant, unupdated profile or none at all. These days a lot of people think you don’t exist anymore if you’re not in the social sphere because they aren’t even using email anymore and use Facebook or LinkedIn as their main way of communicating with colleagues, or Twitter as their main way to announce breaking news.

5. You’re doing fine with Google adwords.

Oh yeah? Why are you buying search results that will disappear as soon as you stop paying — when you could be using social sites and a blog to build a search ranking that will last forever. Also, you’re totally missing out on a highly targeted market if you’re not also advertising on Facebook.

6. You already hired an SEO guy.

In my opinion, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is dead in 2010. It was important in the age of static HTML websites in the 90s.

Why? Because search engines can only search text! The most important thing you can do is generate tons of text and mentions of your URL that will drive people back to your website. More about this later.

7. It’s not necessary.

If you are not on social media, your business reputation is at risk! Ignore social media at your peril–because people are probably talking about you, your competitors and your brand. They’re building relationships without you. They’re inviting people to cool events that you’re not learning about. If you’re not on social media by now, it’s as if you don’t exist.

Bad PR used to be quickly forgotten when the newspaper was tossed in the trash. Now it lasts forever in Cyberspace. Bad customer reviews can quickly destroy a new product launch, a new event or a beta program. Bad word of mouth on social networks will severely damage your personal reputation.

Negative reviews on Yelp can kill a restaurant in a few days. Don’t worry, you can now pay Yelp a monthly fee (aka bribe) to remove bad reviews. Better off to not get them in the first place.

You need to be prepared to brand yourself and position yourself wisely. And you need to pay attention to what your peers, competitors and partners are saying in the social realm.

If your business is large, you’ll also need to track the coverage and monitor feedback so you can respond to customers immediately. It’s all quickly becoming as complex as a traditional, mainstream media PR program.

Whatever you call it — Social Media, Emerging Media, New Media — it’s all just a conversation.

But it’s a conversation you can’t avoid anymore. Ignore it at your peril or it will happen without you. It’s time to lead the conversation.

Published by Gisélle Bisson

I am a storyteller. I am a bridge between the worlds of high tech and high touch. The main communities I build are between thought leaders in Technology, Entertainment and Sustainability. (Kind of like a TED conference.) These are the early adopters, risk takers and super connected connecters who can set your ideas on fire! As a veteran Silicon Valley tech PR executive and product launch visibility expert, I have launched more than 30 paradigm-shifting products and consumer technology companies in my career -- products that changed your life and are used by tens of millions of consumers. I was on the teams that introduced major innovations we now take for granted -- like email, video editing, ink jet printers and mobile devices. I've promoted products that reached 5 million to 40 million customers -- paying customers, not eyeballs. We did this almost 100% with free PR and social media -- not paid advertising. Increasingly all business must be social, sustainable, sharable and conscious. And I believe social media is the catalyst of this conscious convergence and shift. I've learned that it's not just about "content" or "engagement" -- it's about creating authentic communities around an event that share your news and spread the word for you. I combine social media with press relations, speaking engagements, events, social ads, email lists and street teams to generate waves of awareness that catapult your launch and sustain it. Move forward, into the future. I can help you make a Visibility Shift.

82 thoughts on “Seven lame, business-killing excuses for not having a social media presence.

  1. Its hard to find knowledgeable individuals on this matter, but you sound like you already know what youre talking about! Thanks. some times its a pain in the ass to read what blog owners wrote but this website is really user friendly ! . fantastic great more please.

  2. I am planning an eco-friendly baby shower for my sister, and, trying so hard to think of different things to do. Anyway…… I came up with a wishing well where each guest will be asked to bring one organic jar of baby food, but I don’t know how to present it in invitations or at the shower? I searched and searched the internet and could NOT find anything to help, hoping you ladies can!!!!!!

  3. 6. You already hired an SEO guy.

    In my opinion, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is dead in 2010. It was important in the age of static HTML websites in the 90s.

    Why? Because search engines can only search text! The most important thing you can do is generate tons of text and mentions of your URL that will drive people back to your website. More about this tomorrow.

    i’m still waiting for your post related to this.

  4. I’m fairly active with certain forms of social media – facebook and wordpress – but haven’t really taken to Twitter. Is it your opinion that someone should learn to use all these social media tools, or is it ok to use one or two as long as you’re at least getting out there? Great post, by the way.

  5. Oops. I deleted both my facebook and my twitter. I’m I an idiot? Lol. I guess I am. I think you just convinced me to go back on it.

    But here’s my situation: I’m a blogger and a writer. I’m writing a novel and blogging about it. I’m trying to establish a career as a writer. I need to write this novel, and often facebook and twitter can be very DISTRACTING. So it keeps me from writing my novel, which keeps my blog not genuine since it is about me writing my novel, so it kinda ruins the whole purpose of the blog in the first place. The point was to get me to write my book.

    My question is this: any recommendations on how to use FB and Twitter effectively without it wasting all of your time?

  6. I agree that social networking has become a must for business today. It would be idealistic to try and stay, stuck in the age of the ark, when big money was spent by companies on fancy adverts in newspapers and magazines. In the hospitality industry – word of mouth and social networking media tools are the way to get people to look at your website or try your establishment. There is too much cometition out there and they will leave you in the dirt unless you can blog, tweet or update your status on Facebook and lets be honest it is a dam side cheaper!

  7. Social media is a good idea for business unless you just hate people or something. Customers are beginning to expect their favorite businesses to have a twitter and a blog at the very least. It’s good to have a two-way conversation.

  8. Thank you!! I’ve been telling my mom (And boss) to get her butt in gear for getting onto Facebook for her store, and she just won’t listen! I’m going to show her this when I get home – again, thank you!

  9. Very informative article and I strongly agree with you that todays world social networking sites are used as bait to tap into marketing and advertising.


  10. Regarding point #4. Yes. Grab your name before someone else does. This site is a great way to quickly scan if your name is available still and points you to social networking/media sites you might be unaware of:

  11. I am not sure what gets me aggravated more. People who refuse to do social media or people who insist it will replace all other types of media. Social media should be one of many tools that we use. I know that when I update everything, it is easily an hour out of my day. When I work on a blog post, that can easily be another hour. While this is something that should be on a business owner’s radar, it should not be the only thing.

  12. The challenge is not abusing it. I have been “friended” on Facebook by people who do nothing but “friend” 100+ people a day then flood the site with their self-promoting garbage. Not what I want and a total turn-off – the fastest way to get hidden.

    Simply updating my profile on LinkedIn netted me the best gig of my life within days, so it works.

  13. Great info. I am always trying to learn more about the benefits of social media. I am glad that I am not afraid to jump right in myself because I don’t want to be left behind in the dust!

  14. The reaction of many businesses sounds like a classic denial to change. The most successful businesses embrace change rather than fight it – and they do it quick!

  15. Social media advertising is one of those long term propaganda affairs. I don’t think many people would be willing to engage with companies on a personal level and definitely not a commercial level.

  16. Thank you Guiselle! I like your list very much. I don’t think there can be an excuse for anyone not being part of the social media anymore. I even created a profil for my mum. 🙂 (

  17. Whole heartedly agree! Great post and highlights in very clear terms the role of the social media. It’s here to stay- like reality TV…lol…. it is pasr of our culture now and the way we communicate. Refusing to use social media is like running a business without a telephone. In this day and age- you would never even imagine life without it.

  18. Although SEO isn’t totally dead there are still ideas from it that you can do that will help the consumer like adding SERP coding to the site for a more thorough explanation of the site. Of course link building and getting your link out there is still a form of SEO, but I wonder what you would call it now? Just link building? It’s true you don’t need the search engines as much, but if your a retail sit with an affiliate program and you have coupon code sides ranking just below your site you might want to do some SEO to get them off of there or disestablish the affiliation with them and for that you would have to do SEO or else they steal organic search traffic, which still accounts for a hefty percentage of sales. Unless there is an argument against this, but maybe it’s different with retail than say blogs?

    1. LOL. Great article idea. Yes, it can ruin your business if you don’t pay attention to what’s being said about you. Monitoring the blogosphere, the press and social networks is critically important if you are a business with any stort of public profile. (ie: restaurants.) In the old school PR world, we always monitor press clipping for clients on a daily basis, and track the online communities. People forget that social media is not at all new — there have been BBSes, weblogs and USENET groups for two decdes, and in the tech world, bad word of mouth in these communities can be very damaging to a product’s reputation.

  19. I work for an organization that will benefit greatly from Social Media, as we are trying to foster the “club” atmosphere, where members are more than just a number or name, they’re part of a group of like-minded people. I wish I could send this blog to the higher ups at my office so that they could understand the benefits. Unfortunately, I don’t think they even know what a blog is.

    (if anyone’s interested, my blog post “Social Media & Marketing” talks a bit about how “well” my company is adjusting to Facebook)

  20. Funny. I thought about social media the other day and talked to a friend about how much I dislike it. Though we both agreed on how much we disliked social networking we did agree that social media is an awesome tool for business. With that said, we started up a business where we use blogging, Twitter, and Facebook to reach and connect to our audience. To make a long story short, I highly agree that social media is a MUST for anyone in business.

  21. Superb post! Great intro to social media and wonderful job dispelling some of the perceived obstacles. Most professionals need to move into the social media world. Great opportunities for nonprofit organizations to get their message out.

    1. It’s definitely about the conversation. Traditional PR didn’t give us a chance to do that, because it takes a month or more for the “letters to the editor” to get printed, and that was the only way we could be interactive with the media in the old days. So think of ways to engage people and fans and give them a sense of personal contact. I think that the CEO of Pandora, Tim Westergren, does this brilliantly. He manages to send out informative Tweets, mixed with personal quotes, comments and insights, or his enthusiasm for a particular band.

  22. Nice post! I agree with your mention about the importance of sites such as FaceBook to promote a company’s presence. Although, I don’t have an account, soooo many people do and its a wonderful way to connect with people quickly and cost-effectively. Congrats on Freshly Pressed! LB

  23. An excellent posting! I recommend this to potential buisness owners. Social networking is a trend today. Consumers like following along trends.

  24. You have not provided one spec of evidence as to why social networking is a requirement for business. Your argument is supported by glaring generalities and unsupported opinions. Have you studied business?

    1. Pete, read my bio. I’ve been working as a PR pro for two decades, for huge, Fortune 500 and multibillion dollar businesses with products that are a total household name — and also for s
      small businesses and non-profits. I know a lot about business, and I totally believe that PR (including “social PR”) is absolutely essential as a way to get out the word and reach customers.

  25. We use facebook but I think it has to be used in context.

    You can’t just run the same ads you maight run elswhere, they need to be adapted to attract facebook users.

    People using Facebook, generally are using it to relax, to interact with their friends and, most importantly, to have fun.

    They’re not going to be interested in some banner ad asking them to buy ABC product because there’s a sale on at XYZ store.

    We use facebook in a small way because we are a small business but it does work for us. We have a company logo ( a Zebra ) and he has his own page, with his own friends, and he interacts. He post pictures of jobs, posts about what has gone right or wrong that day or sometimes just posts rubbish jokes.

    No direct selling, just some fun, but it has brought results in traffic back to the site resulting in sales.

    Just my opinion.

    cheshire house removals

    1. Love the Zebra! Another great corporate Facebook personality is the Cow that is used by Malibu Compost to promote their fertilizer. You have to have a sense of humor when you are selling cow manure!

  26. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, google, linkedIn, etc

    are only as useful as your product/service/organization.

    If you are among the many who are

    peddling “MADE IN CHINA” products to each other,

    or trying to cash in on the latest “GET RICH QUICK” or
    “MULILEVELMARKETING” then go ahead.

    But if you have something interesting to say:
    when you put a

    join me on twitter/facebook/myspace/etc
    button on your page you’re telling the audience/consumer two things:

    1. i’m not leget enough of a business/org/person to be honest and tell you what’s up, so I have to get you into facebook/twitter (corporate entities) or google to attract your business.

    it’s a instant ” i’m not serious” signal to a serious customer that you’re playing games and “advertising” rather than explaining and teaching the truth.

    I would say, delete your twitter and facebook accounts! you’ have alot more time, and more energy and more focus on what you’re doing.

    Twitter and facebook are like the new American ONLINE, back when the interwebs were fresh and young (circy 1990) AOL was like being “on the internet” now it’s just Facebook.

    In fact, being a person who doesn’t use GoogleAdwords or FACEBOOK or Twitter feeds makes you sound

    1. professional
    2. serious
    3. intelligent
    4. respectful of the intelligence of your consumers.

    Nowadays with all the privacy violations of FAcebook and Google execs in the news, you’re going to see a huge exodus from these companies. I’m just the messenger. =)

    peace! &
    “have a nice day!”

    -the dude

  27. Nice post! This part is especially important:
    “You need to be prepared to brand yourself and position yourself wisely. And you need to pay attention to what your peers, competitors and partners are saying in the social realm.”

    Businesses must monitor what people are saying about them (by using Google alerts, which are free) and *participate in the conversation*. It’s about two-way conversation, not just blasting out info via Twitter and Facebook. When done right, it really works.

  28. Awesome and very helpful post!! Thank you so much for dedicating a blog to this. Currently, I am in charge of my company’s ‘Social Networking’, but I have no idea where to begin! I think I’m going to start off with our own WordPress blog, then move to facebook and twitter, etc.

    I’ll definitely be looking at your future posts!

  29. I enjoyed this post, Giselle and I’ve mentioned on various Linkedin groups that social media is a perfect relationship builder with a a brand. Yet I also argued on a post that it seems that everyone is using social media “just because” – I think brands also need to see how social media complements their brand and make sure that they are not simply using Facebook as a portal for dispersing information – like a website. The best situation is for brand advocates to post brand-positive thoughts and/or tweets and the social media specialist to use these posts to help generate posts of their own. I’m also interested in “branded” social media outlets that step out of the Facebook user interface as options.
    I’d be interested in hearing everyone’s thoughts!
    – Jesse

  30. Very informative article. As someone starting a photography business and going through the motions of business practices, licensing, and marketing; I’ve learned just how important the online presence is. Even if it’s just a free blog on wordpress and an active Facebook and Twitter, they can and will take you far if you utilize them correctly.

    1. Personally, I’d rather see a clear and concise website with the information I need instead of a social network presence for a business. Of course, as Alex mentioned before your comment, there are certain businesses that thrive on social networking, but it doesn’t make sense for a jewelry appraiser or a lawyer to necessarily join the site. Real estate agents, restaurants, news agencies…those are the types of businesses that make sense to market through social networking. But I wouldn’t NOT go to a restaurant if they didn’t have a presence. Frankly, I’d rather see their menu online and hear a buzz offline.

  31. In my opinion, the corporate interest in developing a facebook presence is misguided. People log onto facebook for social reasons, and that mindset is unlikely to change. If you happen to be one of those people who send out spam event invitations (possibly the most annoying aspect of facebook), then are you really creating the kind of positive, brand building communication that you hope for?

    Obviously I lack the kind of experience in online product launching which you quite clearly have, and I like your ideas on google adwords and the SEO guy, but as a person in my early twenties with a highly developed connection with facebook, it is my belief that corporate vomit simply gets in the way of socializing on facebook. Aggressive advertising on facebook is simply annoying, and I’m fairly certain that most people who use facebook for social reasons would agree with me.

    1. I thought it was a great article, but agree with your point about Facebook. I have followed dozens of my favorite companies (Southwest, Coke, Dunkin Donuts, etc.), only to hide them from my news feed soon afterwards. I like those companies, but I don’t want to socialize with them.

    2. Agreed absolutely. Only someone who’s jobs rests on people believing that having a facebook fan page for their washing-machine repair business could make such sweeping statements about this topic. Some businesses that have cultural relevence to people’s social lives (and therefore social online existence) will clearly benefit from social media integration. Examples of such are: Clubs, club nights, local restaurants, bars cafes, social enterprize groups and businesses that people relate to on a higher level. But to say every single business out there needs and, and will fail without Face-spamming and Twit-tention-seeking is just not true.

      1. I agree with you. Not all businesses benefit from PR either. I think if a traditional media PR program would benefit your business, then so would Social Media. I agree that most of the big brands that are rushing to create Fan pages are totally misguided. I don’t want to get spammed with Subway sandwich contests. But I might want to see pics of gorgeous models wearing the latest Victoria’s Secret lingerie. Do I need social media?

  32. Very good informative blog! Many people don’t understand how social media works and hence are afraid of that which they do not understand. Your blog brings them over from the dark side. Great points! Good Job! Keep up the good work!

    1. All of these reasons are indeed very lame. Social media can help people a lot if they use it and use it wisely. Sites like facebook and twitter can make or break a company in today’s world. Consumers have more power than ever, and they will use it. Take Comcast for example: they are known for their terrible customer service because of social media. Its customers go on social media sites and complain, and they are definitely being heard. If you don’t “get” the social media thing, it’s about time you start learning.

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