Sometimes the best quotes come tripping off the tongue in a moment of frustration. About three years ago I was a presenter at a management conference. My topic was about social media and as I looked across the blank faces of my C-Suite audience, I could see a sort of mix between glazed confusion, doubt and fear.
"This week it's Twitter and next week it will be something else. Why do we need to waste our time on this stuff" one audience member said. I stopped, looked around the room and asked "Who wants to be in business 10 years from now?...15? 20?" They all raised their hands.
"If you want to be in business in the next 20 years, you'd better know what the 20-year-olds already know and do what they do and communicate in ways where they will respond and relate to you." And at that point, their faces turned to just plain fear.
Social media, like any new technology can be a scary thing. But no more scary than the printing press, the telephone, the television, the fax machine and the myriad other devices that we've learned to use and depend on every day.
Tim O’Connor is CMO of PCDI/Ashworth, has written a terrific article in Research Access that addresses this very point.
Think of social media space like digital real estate. Each person that's part of your community is a square foot (or meter) of potential value. Each day you wait to build relationships with your community you are missing out on potential market share and revenue.
This doesn't mean that you should go blindly into the world of social media -- but you certainly must go there.