Social Media Risk-Reward―You Decide

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Social Media Risk Reward―You Decide

Each Saturday I look forward to reading Alexandra Wolfe’s Weekend Confidential in the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal. This week was no exception, and, in fact, Bill Marriott’s quotes really caught my attention.

Two quotes in particular stood out.

“In four years, 60% of our business will be millennials,” says Mr. Marriott, who adds with a laugh, “All of us old folks are moving on.”

“I’m up on social media,” he says, and he uses it to get ideas of what millennial customers want. “It’s changed the whole dynamic of the growth of the business,” he says. “Ten years ago if you said we’re going to measure social engagement, I’d say, ‘What in the world are you talking about? Social engagement is saying hello to somebody in the lobby!’

Bill Marriott is 82-years old.

Whether he manages his own social media or not, I have no idea. He is not on LinkedIn. That’s ok, it’s better to not be there than to have an anemic profile that’s not given any attention. Marriott International tweets and has a robust following on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Mr. Marriott has his own blog, On the Move. Glancing over his blog topics I notice they range from his golden retriever to renovated guest rooms at one their properties.

In less than ten minutes on his blog, I know a bit more about Mr. Marriott including something about him personally. He’s had three golden retrievers, a small, interesting tidbit which doesn’t go over the too-much-information cliff.

He gives credence to being relevant, to understanding people and their choices.

If he does, shouldn’t you?

You may be the CEO, the team leader, the in-house recruiter, the VP of Sales. You may be this person in a Fortune 50 firm or a firm of one. Regardless, the reward, the outcome from social media should outweigh the risk. Let’s consider the social media risk-reward scenario and then whether you should dedicate or delegate.

Let’s take a look at the potential risk from LinkedIn and social media:

  • You and your employees don’t look good (lack of content and attention) or don’t get it,
    • You and/or they do not represent your organization well
  • You have a wonky* message and aren’t sure of how to position yourself
    • *Wonky covers wondering, misaligned, outdated
  • You have nothing to say beyond your features and benefit statements
    • That’s so 1999, you need to add more depth to your sales story
  • You don’t believe in a real and relevant business development process
    • You have little-to-no idea where your leads come from or the value of your digital assets, and the professonal development of your marketing and sales teams.
  • You haven’t talked with your staff about social media relative to your business and you’re concerned they will say the wrong thing
    • Training and explaining the why behind social is necessary
    • Create a social media policy guide
  • You don’t like LinkedIn and social media and think everything about it is risky.
    • You may need to more information, easy to change.
  • You’re concerned about privacy. Do you have a mobile device?
    • There really is no such thing as privacy anymore
    • Learn how to manage key platforms
  • You don’t understand the mechanics of it and how you can manage the fire hose
    • Ask someone

Now let’s take a look at the potential reward from LinkedIn and social media:

  • You have an opportunity to showcase your talent, you say they are your greatest asset, right?
  • You have a chance to connect, see and follow your current and potential customers, if you don’t, your competitors surely are.
  • You can share your story, your brand and the messages that you deem important. You control what is initially spoken and shared.
  • You have the ability to provide your perspective, make things right, answer a question, be attentive, research in real time.
  • Your business development and sales teams can identify, research and reach out to your ideal customers and start conversations
  • Your marketing teams can listen in and see what is happening with your competitors, customers and strategic partners
  • You can reach out to talent through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and start conversations with talent you’ve identified as a good fit for your company.
  • You have the ability to make your employees true advocates, evangelists for your company and tap into their best networks of friends, family and professional colleagues to strengthen your reach and social engagement.

Surely, you’ve heard all of this before. Many of you though have not taken the most crucial step. Give someone the permission to get going. Either dedicate your time and energy or delegate someone else to take the lead. Why? The longer you wait the harder it will be to catch up. Bill Marriott says that 60% of his business will be from millennials, how much of your business will come from that same group? Whether you are B2C or B2B, millennials are your consumers, buyers and customers. This is their world too and their time, energy and dollars are spent online. Don’t you think you should meet them there? Don’t render yourself obsolete, you’ve worked too hard for that. Don’t relinquish your place in your respective market.


  • Schedule 30 minutes twice a week to learn and be an active observer.
  • Find a younger associate, intern or colleague and reverse mentor, it will be time well spent.
  • Time is finite and you make time for the things you value. Quiet time learning or reading about social and how it impacts you and your business.
  • FInd a coach who can translate all of this for you, one-to-one.

Not so much? That’s okay.


  • Find someone who understands you and your business (not necessarily advocating to delegate to the college summer intern, note: we have great interns and we work closely with them).
  • Ask your marketing and human resources teams to play a role
  • Have a standing call with that person or group.
  • Review with them how you network, sell and manage your in-person relationships.
  • Set up two goals for LinkedIn and social media so you can measure good progress.
  • Be open-minded.
  • Understand this is an ongoing process and a series of small, manageable experiments.
  • Be okay with not measuring ROI immediately. You need to ramp up, create a community and establish a presence before you earn a return.

Understanding risk-reward is something you do everyday. Dedicate or delegate. Well, you should be well-skilled in at least one of these. It’s also a skill to adapt and keep moving. Don’t be left standing in the dust.

I will be writing more about those LinkedIn and social media risks and rewards over the next few months as we prepare for the launch of the book I am co-authoring with Eliot Wagonheim.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Social Media Risk-Reward―You Decide

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