12 Most Feeble Excuses Leaders Give to Shun Social Media

12 Most Feeble Excuses Leaders Give to Shun Social Media

Thankfully, more and more folks with corner offices are starting to get that savvy social media use can boost the bottom line. Plenty of leaders, though, aren’t yet convinced.

Here are the most common justifications companies or non-profits give for shunning social media — and the reasons they’re all hooey. Feel free to leave a print out of this post where your boss will see it…

1. We can’t “control” it

Oh, so you can control what the local or national media are saying about you? Can you control the things that your customers are saying about you? (And, be certain about this, Mr. or Ms. CEO: Your customers are on Yelp, Twitter, Foursquare and elsewhere spouting off whether you are there to respond — or not.)

The point? It’s better to be aware of and able to respond to social chatter that’s already happening about your brand. That’s something you can control.

2. We can’t afford it

Social media is amazingly cost effective. The tools and technology available allow companies to connect directly with their customers on a wide and broad scale. This was impossible when marketing required companies to rely on a third party — such as a journalist, ad agency, billboard or other media outlet — in order to reach customers. What companies can’t afford is to have no social media presence or one that isn’t guided and executed skillfully to meet business objectives.

3. It’s a fad

Is customer service a fad? What about marketing? Sales? Relationships? Conversations? Social media enables and encompasses all of those, and more.

4. It’s not where our customers are

Without the analytics social media provide, how do you know? How many of your customers read your direct mail piece? How many of your customers saw your commercial? Are you sure? Take a look at this from the Pew Research Center.

5. We’ll just stick with PR and advertising

Well, for starters, shaping and executing on a smart social media strategy doesn’t mean that brands ignore public relations or advertising. PR and ads are clearly exceptional tools. (Not to mention, they happen through social media, now.) Social media is a multi-tasking machine for brands and other organizations. Any attempt to connect with the public that doesn’t include social media ignores some of the most powerful communication tools now available.

6. Show me the ROI

It’s never been possible to calculate precise return on investment in communication or other outreach. That was as true in the Mad Men era as it is today. However, the analytics and technological insight that electronic communication and internet-based marketing offer are incredible. It is through the interactive tools of social media that you can glean information about how visitors found you; where they came from; how long they stayed and looked around; and, what they peeked at while they were there. Try to get that kind of information from a billboard or newspaper ad. How’s that for return?

7. Legal doesn’t like it

With apologies to my lawyer friends, “legal” is paid to not like things and to expect the worst. That’s why products have warnings that are, in some cases, just ridiculous. Examples: The tag on my hair dryer admonishing me not to use it during sleep. Or the notice on my packet of roasted almonds that warns me the product was prepared in a facility that processes tree nuts. You get the idea.

And anyway, if lawyers are calling all of the shots on your customer service and marketing, you’ve got bigger problems than this post can address…

8. It will leave us vulnerable

Not having a well-planned and well-tended presence on social media, I’d argue, leaves you far more vulnerable — and also far less in touch with your audience.

9. “If it ain’t broke…”

In 2013, if your business or organization is not taking advantage of the countless ways social media can turbocharge marketing, sales, customer service, research and development (and on and on), one thing is clear: it’s broke, all right.

10. Our market is local or has a limited geography

This excuse limits potential growth. But even if a local company or organization has absolutely no intention to expand or grow, not using social media ignores ways to adequately serve the existing audience. My local pizza place offers discounts to customers who check in on Foursquare. My favorite sandwich shop tweets its specials and the soup of the day. Fabulous! And I’m more likely to go and to keep those places at the top of my list as a result.

11. It’s too big (or hard or confusing)

So call in some help. Businesses often use consultants for other projects or work. If social media strategy feels overwhelming, call in an agency or professional whose work, referrals and real-life social media trail back up their claims.

12. It’s a clash with our culture

Unless the culture is to avoid communicating with and attracting and keeping customers, then this excuse makes no sense. Blunt, but true.

Having an effective social media presence takes resources. But so do IT, human resources and other essential components of running successful operation these days. Well-designed, well-implemented and well-tended social media is not only essential, it opens up incredible opportunities that can’t exist — or thrive as successfully — through other means.

That’s my view, anyway. Weigh in and share yours!

Featured image courtesy of kaibara87 licensed via Creative Commons.

Becky Gaylord


Becky worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C.; Sydney, Australia; and Cleveland, Ohio for major publications including the New York Times, Salon.com, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, and was Associate Editor of the Plain Dealer's Editorial Page before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. The company helps clients improve their external relations and communication and increase their influence and impact. Becky blogs about that (a few other things) at Framing What Works.

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Love it. All the answers in one place. Bookmarking for future needs :)


Great post, Becky. I run into these obstacles...and in some cases are living it since we are B2B doing enterprise software development...all the time. It becomes an education process to convince leadership to step up to social!


I really do agree. Social media is a fad. If you're the boss and you don't have twitter that's strange. Social media could be a marketing tool and the good new is it's free. We should take advantage of this and make it useful for our own business growth. Amazing post here. :)

PaulBiedermann moderator

Terrific list, @BeckyGaylord — and one that will serve as a handy reference for the next time I hear any one of these lame excuses. #6 is so right on — when has anyone been able to prove a anything with mathematical certainty? Yet with social, so many benefits are plain to see even if ancillary to the main goal. Seems that people who don’t understand social media find it convenient to hold it to a higher standard.

Thanks for another well thought out, comprehensive post!


Thanks, Beth, for your comments. Yes, the "time suck" excuse is another one. I understand why people say or think it. But, like you, I don't buy it. 

Social media use that's productive needs the same kind of guidelines as other things at work that can take too much of our time if we let them. Example: How many meetings have we all sat in that went way, way over their usefulness? One great way to avoid those is to frame and focus in on the objective and the purpose at the front end. Have an agenda and follow it! That concept works for social media, too.


Becky, terrific list! I love how directly you say, in no uncertain terms, "get on social media, people!" You anticipate the resistance and offer solid comebacks. Of your points, I think #10 is particularly powerful and one that geographically based businesses should definitely take seriously.

One that I'd like to add (knowing it's not "13 Most"!) :-) ): "It's a time-suck/distraction." Like the other points you make, that can be a legitimate concern and something to think through, but it's an excuse, and a lame one at that. The truth is that the real time-suck will happen when you aren't out in front of your message and you have to do damage control without the benefit of positive social media clout! 


Sure, does! @dbvickery  Repeating variations of these to clients and prospects was what planted the seed for the post. Thanks for the kind words about the post, Brian.