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Why Social Media Creates Fear, Terror, Panic And What To Do About It

Author: Rachel Minihan   |   November 30th, 2009

Fear, terror, panic . . . call it what you will, but this look slinks onto people’s faces as I talk with them about opening up their businesses and/or themselves to the world at large via social media outlets.  The reaction isn’t surprising since new things are often scary with “what ifs” swirling around in your mind.

If you relate to any of the following “what if’s,” recognize that you are not alone in worrying about the unplanned nature of social media, but don’t let it stop you!

1)    What if someone knows more than I do or has a better product?
They did so well before social media entered your purview.  Just because you didn’t realize it, does not mean it wasn’t there.  Now that you do know about their product, you can address it by actively differentiating your product.

If they knew more about a topic, you can learn from them and put the knowledge into practice for your clients.  Then, reciprocate by sharing what you know.  Ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to the competition and social media tools will help you learn more.

2)    What if I make a mistake?
As your mother told you way back when, “we all make mistakes.”  Learn from it and move on.  Assuming you avoid being over-the-top lewd or disrespectful, chances are that no one is even going to notice.  If they do notice, the error will be quickly forgotten if you stay genuine, continue to share your expertise, and maintain a committed online presence.

3)    What if no one follows/friends me?
I get this, because offline no one wants to end up at a networking event standing in the corner, sipping a drink, with no one to talk to.  But, how often has this actually happened?  When you arrive, don’t you just walk up to someone, introduce yourself, and start a conversation.  Then, exchange business cards and a new contact is added to your “Rolodex.”

The reality online is the same as that offline:  if you approach someone through Twitter, Facebook, or the like and start a conversation with them, they’ll answer you back.  Suddenly, you aren’t alone in a corner.  The lesson from offline networking is that we mustn’t rely on others to seek us out; rather, we must dive into the conversation with our questions and ideas.  Inevitably, this leads to conversation and followers/friends!

4)    What if I don’t have anything to say?
This is a common question, but I find it ironic since we’re talking all day, every day about our work – to our colleagues, other businesses and consumers, our neighbors.  The difference in social media is that we are now being asked to write thoughts down: put in front of a blank piece of paper, many of us freeze.

My advice is always to start small and to set goals.  If the idea of writing full length articles each week is just too much at first, start by hoping on Twitter and listening.  Try sharing something that another expert has written.  Try asking a genuine question.  Chances are good that, as you get more comfortable with the online world, you’ll start to hear questions and concerns that inspire you to leverage your expertise and to continue the conversations in a longer format – an article.

5)    And, the top “what if . . .” What if someone speaks negatively about my business?
We come back to the fact that, if they are going to say something negative, they were going to do so whether you were part of the conversation or not.  By being there, you have an opportunity.  You have the chance to correct misinformation, address customer service issues, or make the frustrated person feel heard.

The “what ifs” are scary, but not insurmountable.  With practice, conversing online will become second nature and an opportunity to share your business on a broader scale.


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One Response to “Why Social Media Creates Fear, Terror, Panic And What To Do About It”

  1. William King Says:

    I tend to agree with you that people just don’t try and always intimidate their selves by awful what ifs. If Doctor Wave didn’t try and scare at first then nobody would be using Google wave now. What they say “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” So if you learn something from your mistakes then it’s the best practice you can do. Just have a determination to overcome your mistakes by practicing the issues and never give up unless you become a perfectionist.

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