What To Say When A Brand Says 'No' To Social

We all know that social media is getting bigger and bigger with every passing day, and more brands are engaging in social media every hour, but what about those brands that are still hesitant to get in the game?  What do you say to them?

If a brand is still afraid to get involved in social, it's because of one of the following "excuses" (and yes, I mean "excuses" -- because none of these are relevant reasons to stay out of it):

§       "I can't control my message in social."

§       "There's no clear way to engage my consumers -- it's too confusing."

§       "The return on engagement for our resources isn't there yet."

§       "It's still too early for us. We want to see what our competitors do."

In the last three months I've heard a number of people make these statements.  I love hearing these kinds of "excuses," because then I have something to respond to. I thought maybe it would be helpful for me to share my responses with you!



First off, if a brand says, "I can't control my message in social," you can respond with "Well, how much control do you think you have by NOT being in social?"  The fact of the matter is, consumers are talking about you whether you're there or not. By avoiding the conversation, you're simply allowing them to speak in an unbridled fashion about you, and hoping for the best.  

Additionally, the world has changed; almost without exception, consumers expect their favorite brands to be available in social for their interaction.  This is the way the world is now, and creating loyalty in the eyes of your target consumer means being in social media and engaging them when and where they're available.  It's a competitive marketplace out there, and if you aren't speaking with consumers, you can certain your competition is.

For those brands that talk about how confusing social is, I would respond, "Yeah, that was true six months ago." Since then, things have settled down quite a bit, and it's much clearer what you can do in social: advertise, create sponsorships, (i.e. sponsored tweets and posts), or use it as a messaging distribution vehicle through owned assets.  There are lots of companies offering ancillary services like research, reporting and promotion, but for the most part they fit into the three categories I just mentioned.   There are also a number of companies packaging together these options and making them plug-and-play. As social matures, so does the marketplace -- and with maturity, comes simplicity.

What about when they complain about return on investment from social? My response is also quite simple: the ROI is far more wide-reaching than what you're likely looking at.  An effective social media strategy has implications for SEO, customer service  and overall brand analytics (guess what -- it improves all of them).  Brands who are connected are viewed more favorably by their consumers than brands that are not, and your analysis of the ROI should never be purely against your advertising budget.  It should be against customer retention, efficiency of customer interaction and other elements of your business!

Which leaves us with the last statement: "It's still too early -- we want to see what our competitors do."  I love that kind of statement because it is so clearly incorrect.  When in business is taking no action at all the right action?  You need to be analyzing, testing and evaluating tactics.  You don't sit idly by and wait for things to just happen. If the average tenure of a CMO is between 18-32 months, and the average tenure of an agency relationship is four to five years, then how does inaction provide you with opportunity?

Of course, brands many other statements about why they're not in social. Share some of your favorite responses from clients, and maybe we can find a way to help answer those!

6 comments about "What To Say When A Brand Says 'No' To Social".
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  1. Jesus Grana from Independent, September 21, 2011 at 12:11 p.m.

    The only way a "brand" will say no to Social is if they continue to be pushed into it as if it was an end all as many so-called experts are doing - a real "brand" will understand its benefits and flow into social naturally - See my just published post "STOP, Social Media is NOT as starting point...."

  2. Steven Arsenault from, September 21, 2011 at 12:22 p.m.

    I want to keep my ice box as well but no one delivers ice any longer. I also sat with an older investment 'fossil' that was telling me his businesses were receiving no value at all in his many businesses from the Internet. I told him he may be right and they 'they' were thinking of turning the Internet off next week. I also have a cool investment idea. It's called a pager. All joking a side folks are afraid of the change plus the perceived amount of effort they have to put into social. People used to laugh at me when I told them we were building a platform that largely automated social integration, attracted search and everything else digital marketing from a cloud platform. They aren't laughing much any more. I can't imagine doing it myself without automation tools. That's why we build

  3. Greg Alvarez from iMeil, September 21, 2011 at 12:24 p.m.

    An additional excuse (mostly a certainty truth): "because all promoting social networks are being paid by those same entities".

    Something in Mexico is called "payola" when inserting a news flash or article in a newspaper with the aim to take advantage from it o to attack your enemy, and with the intention to make it "appear as true as your name is Cory".

    I really can't understand the imperiously anxiety to move any brand to social networks... when such brands could easily create their own network. Yes! The answer is simple: money generated by ads.

    If the short life (1990 to date) of internet has shown something, it is that every thing last no more than a decade. History! Too bad humanity thinks history is just, well, history and think an event faced in the past has no meaning in the present and the future.

  4. John Jainschigg from World2Worlds, Inc., September 21, 2011 at 1:28 p.m.

    Me, I'm fixated on the fact that CMOs only last for 36 months and agencies for just five years. Which means that every other CMO is perceived as a failure, and his/her replacement occupies most of their tenure by picking a new agency, which is the only reason they, too, aren't perceived as a failure. Yes, it's a simple model, but ... seems to explain a lot, doesn't it? (lol)

    Couple other points: 1) Is there such a thing as a business that isn't doing social? Given that, say, 90% of employees are now doing social? What they may not be doing is _coherent_ social. 2) Don't you think the problem (in some cases) is one of cognitive dissonance between executive roles and the 'talkability' of some brands? Or rather, that there are some brands that cry out for social and others (e.g., soap or soft drinks) where perversely, social might be a great tool for reaching a desired demographic, but nobody at the company can figure out how to have a valuable, authentic conversation about fattening sugar-poison?

  5. Jt Thayer from The Legacy Productions, LLC, September 21, 2011 at 1:49 p.m.

    Controlling the narrative by saying no one internally can share social media seems counterproductive. The Dominos pizza experience is a great example. Social Media Management is the most rapidly growing job title in the private sector and with very good reason: brands know they need it. They also know it takes considerable time to do it well, but the ROI is tangible and measurable in real time. Our company looked at it for a long time as a core service. We decided there was such an opportunity in offering Social Media Management to other firms we developed out a boutique set of services in a subscription model that makes it affordable. There are other firms that have done the same. If a brand is considering whether to develop and implement a social media strategy I'd invite them to look at any of the INFOGRAPHICS Well worth the time

  6. Nick Drew from Yahoo Canada, September 21, 2011 at 2:07 p.m.

    > "For those brands that talk about how confusing social is, I would respond, "Yeah, that was true six months ago." Since then, things have settled down quite a bit, and it's much clearer what you can do in social: advertise, create sponsorships, (i.e. sponsored tweets and posts), or use it as a messaging distribution vehicle through owned assets. "
    er... so you're talking about advertising and owned media. Which are actually other things entirely...

    I think the biggest problem is that 'social' is used as a catch-all buzzword that can be inserted at any point to make something sound better.
    "yeah, we're doing social advertising" - can mean 'we've put ads on Facebook', 'we've got shareable ads' or 'we're advertising'. "social strategy" can be anything from tracking buzz metrics, having a Facebook page, to more of a social outreach/ CSR piece.

    What's needed is clarification of what we mean. Advertising by any other name is still advertising - you can make it shareable though. Social media are not a natural hunting ground for new consumers, but a great tool for after-the-purchase engagement and retention. Social ROI is still pretty meaningless though... ;c)

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