grow a pairFirst I would like to explain this strange headline to my international readers. “Grow a pair” (not ot be confused with “grow a pear”) is American slang for stepping up to be tough and bold. Now, on with the show.

There is an infection overwhelming social media strategy development and the virus is fear.

I just read a number of reports all showing how CMO’s are still confused about what to do about social media.  Really? It’s been on the table for at least 3-4 years now. Isn’t it time to figure things out?

I’ve had the true honor of working with some of America’s most beloved brands over the past few years. And I can report that the overwhelming reaction to social media by many successful companies is: “Can we please just make this go away!”

Once they learn that they can’t make it go away, they do the next best thing.: Shove it off to an advertising agency.

The fact of the matter is, “fear of change” is always the biggest obstacle to progress. Many of today’s CMO’s did not cut their teeth in the digital world, have not immersed themselves in the social web, and simply do not understand it.

It’s time these business leaders stop whining about social media, shatter the status quo, and grow a pair for the new year.

  • Stop abdicating leadership to advertising agencies who just made Timmy from Accounting your community manager because he’s 23 and enjoys Facebook.
  • If you still have a firewall to keep employees from the social web, grow a pair. Are you shaking your employees down for crossword puzzle books when they punch the time clock?
  • Quit fighting over who owns social media strategy. It’s Marketing. Glad to be of help.
  • Stop hiding behind your legal department as an excuse to not do anything. If you help them understand what’s at stake, they will help you.  Lawyers care about your business too.
  • Quit whining about how much time it takes to do social media. Take a little of that newspaper ad budget you’re wasting and re-direct some resources to the digital space.
  • If you’re in pharma or another highly-regulated industry, stop waiting for guidance from the FDA or whatever agency and just figure it out. Whoever finally does that is going to have a remarkable competitive advantage.
  • If you’re in the insurance, banking or wealth management industries, grow a pair and stop treating your employees like idiots who could not manage to send out a tweet without violating a freaking SEC regulation.
  • Stop following a soul-less, cookie-cutter social media playbook devised by your agency.  Learn enough about this new channel so you can ask the right questions and be a real leader in this space.
  • If you are overwhelmed about social media and don’t know where to start, bring in help. If you want to find an advisor you can really trust, call me. I know a few I could recommend! Also, I recommend the Rutgers University CMD program (where I teach). In this remarkable executive program, you can get up to speed on the digital marketing landscape in one week.
  • And most of all, please, please, please quit asking about the ROI of social media when this is simply code for: “If I keep asking for spreadsheets I can stall this thing until I hit retirement.”

So there.  (Taking deep breath).

Please. Look around you. Which companies are creating new value today and achieving breath-taking business results?  Which companies are declining quickly, and why?  You’ll discover that if you don’t have a digital strategy, you are most likely on a path to irrelevance. Don’t go there.

In 2013 it’s time to do this thing. How are you going to integrate social media and digital marketing so that you’re not just checking a box. It’s time to master these platforms to make them work for you. Are you with me?