Mike is the owner of The Social Penguin Blog, a popular and well-respected social media blog based in the UK. During the day, he can be found delivering social media and digital marketing strategies for multi-national brands in his role at The BIG Partnership, one of the UK’s largest communications firms. You can catch him on Twitter at @mike_mcgrail.

Have you ever tried to convince a business owner or someone in a senior position at your company/employer about the merits of using social media as part of a marketing and communications mix?

If the answer to that question is yes, we can bet that you came up against one of the objections here. Being able to counteract those objections is a great weapon to have in the quest for social media adoption; we’ve put together some tips to help you overcome these obstacles.

1. “We Don’t Want to Open Our Business to Negativity”

Ah, that old chestnut! A business should be committed to delivering the best possible experience and service to its customers. Yes, actively using social media platforms may well give people the opportunity to tell you about a less than flattering issue. However, wouldn’t you rather know about that issue?

Many modern consumers won’t bother to make a complaint through traditional routes such as telephone or email; they want to be able to make a quick connection on Twitter or Facebook. Give them the tools they need to do that. Being active in social media is a fantastic way to uncover insight and opinion with regards to your business.

If you have the right processes in place, you can take a negative experience and turn it into a positive one, all with social media. Who knows — that may even lead to a future purchase or a retained customer.

2. “We Don’t Have Anything to Say”

We’ve all heard this one time and time again, but there are a number of things that could be used as the basis of impactful content. When businesses really started to adopt social media a few years ago, many of them used it as an opportunity to give a sneak peak behind the scenes of their companies.

This is becoming less and less common now, but there’s no good reason why. Focus on the people that make things happen at your business, and you add a human edge to your brand. Share pics of them doing what they do best, interview them, allow them to be the voice of your organization (with some structure), and before you know it you are saying a lot!

Product news, competitions, polls, live Q&As, and so on are all simple ways to create meaningful content, or opportunites for your audience to open up a dialogue with you. After all, this isn’t all about you talking. It’s called social media for a reason.

3. “We Don’t Have Time”

Does the business in question have people within it that take care of customer service? Perhaps they take phone calls, respond to emails or even snail mail letters.

Is their time as efficient as possible? Many companies train their customer service staff in the use of Twitter so those staff respond to queries and issues in-between calls and email responses. This approach ensures the business is using staff who live and breath customer service and are at the heart of social media efforts, but it also alleviates the need to have dedicated social staff.

In an ideal world a business would have people with the sole purpose of delivering service via the social media platforms, however that is an understandable step too far for many businesses.

4. “We Can’t Prove It’s Working”

The question of ROI (return on investment) from social media is not going away. The web is full of debates around the subject, but it comes down to this one piece of advice: Thinking must move away from the bottom line.

Yes, social media can affect sales and revenue (and ultimately it should if done well) but getting hung up on that is the reason that many social media strategies fall by the wayside at an early stage. Shift thinking to customer retention, sentiment increase, queries answered versus pre-social media introduction, product feedback, and advocate creation. That way you are well on the way to having a nice round ROI picture. For more on this, read “Social Media Isn’t Free, But It’s Worth It” over at The Social Penguin Blog.

There are many other objections out there! What have you been stared down with when trying to make people understand the importance and power of social media? Have you been successful in changing those views? Let us know in the comments.

[Image credit: Maria LyParker Michael Knight, balu]