Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Stop waiting for the messiah and do it yourself

While there's many organisations now actively beginning to experiment with social media channels and tools, just as many - if not more - are still cautious about even putting a toe in the water.

"It's not right for us", they say, "our audience isn't online" or "doesn't want to engage with us" or "we don't understand the risks" or "we're not ready yet" or "we're waiting for a critical need".

I'd like to say to all of these organisations - stop waiting for the messiah and do it yourself.

As has been shown through research, humans often make decisions first and justify their actions later - which means that most of these so-called reasons for not engaging online are justifications, not evidence.

How do you know whether a new tool will work for you if you don't experiment and pilot? How will you build the expertise you may need when there is a critical need for you to use these channels?

We've seen this behaviour in industries like retail, where a major retailer, Harvey Norman, is now pulling back from use of the internet because it didn't meet their projections on revenue. How did they work out those projections without experimenting online? Why did they not meet the projections and how will pulling back increase their success?

Given the internet has been a valid sales channel for fifteen or more years and some of the largest retailers in the world, such as Amazon, have built themselves online, how could any organisation in retail claim that online isn't viable, or delay entering the market - at least in an experimental way - for over ten years?

If you're not yet engaging actively online via social media just stop waiting for the messiah - that person or reason that makes it 'compelling' for you.

The compelling reasons are that 95% of Australians are online, that other businesses are building their expertise online, that online is the second biggest media today in Australia.

Online no-one cares that you're not there - but they are talking about you - truth and otherwise.

You wouldn't wait until an emergency occurred before building your emergency management systems. You wouldn't wait until you were in court before preparing your defence.

Organisations have case studies to learn from, examples of good practice and a range of resources and tools available to experiment with online, which allow you to learn the ropes without leaving you hanging.

If you're not building your experience now then how do you expect to build it in the future? Do you think your business will be able to afford the talent needed to leapfrog a ten-year or more advantage from your competitors, rivals and detractors?

Is delay really worth the risk?


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