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Social Media Phobia

Social Media Phobia

Are you familiar with those kids shoes that honk when they walk. Most Kids love them precisely because of the noise they produce when walking. Just the other day, I walked past this tiny kid who was walking as if her sole intention was to make as much noise as possible from her shoes. She was walking all over the road with this wry smile on her face that proved the intent to make noise. I just smiled as I walked past because she reminded me of my young cousin. She had just learned how to walk and my aunt went out and bought her these squeaky shoes because she thought it would inspire her to walk more since kids love to make noise. Which is true for the most part, but not for my cousin.

After my aunt bought her a pair of those squeaky shoes, she excitedly put them on her and we then eagerly watched to see her reaction when she walked. She took the first step and when noise came from her feet, instead of the smile we were expecting, a look of pure dread on her face followed by crying ensued. My aunt tried urging her on and she tried walking again but when the noise still came from them, she stopped in her tracks, refused to barge and burst out crying again. My aunt then tried forcing her to walk but the ear-piercing screams that came from her tiny mouth convinced us her mind was made up. I immediately disabled the noise making things embedded in the sole and she walked in piece, the way she was getting used to.

Social Media is today’s squeaky shoes. Many of us have embraced it; we are registered across multiple platforms, are engaging across networks, and are making as much noise as we possibly can about who we are, where we are from, what we do, and generally what we are about. But on the other hand, there are those of us who are like my young cousin, afraid of the squeaky shoes. They represent those people who have come to enjoy the privacy that existed prior to the advent of social media, people who have embraced the rules of doing business that took them where they are and still believe those rules will apply today, people who claim they have no time to waste on social media and those who are just plain scared because they simple don’t get what the “fuss” is all about.

My cousin cried when she was bought the new shoes. Businesses especially traditional ones are in a quagmire because of social media and many are also crying, crying foul. For most, Social Media is something that wastes time that employees would otherwise spend working. Others fear the potential lawsuits that social media participation by unsanctioned employees may present. For others, their fears are based on wild assumptions and conspiracy theories. A lot of businesses are reacting in much the same way that my little cousin did and they have resolved to what we did when the screaming became too much – disabling the devices that make the shoes squeaky. These businesses have banned social media usage in its entirety.

But then you go out and start playing with other kids and realize that they are having more fun with the squeaky shoes you just violently rejected. You realize that your peer businesses have a better PR, Customer Care, and way bigger Fan base than you. People grow up and those who had the courage to wear the shoes at a young age are usually miles ahead when those who had avoided them finally wake up to the fact that there was nothing scary at all about the shoes. Unfortunately, they are now big boys and girls and those shoes are no longer suitable since they are only made for toddlers. There are new shoes for grown-ups but since they never learned to walk in the toddler shoes, these are a size too big and a platform too late.

They have to start small, treated with kid gloves, so as to make their way to the big leagues where their former peers are now trend setters. They will be learning the hashtag when their peers are Geo-tagging.

Are you afraid or irritated by squeaky shoes?

  • Great analogy. Social media is not just a fad, and like many other business tools, it is only as powerful and effective as its adaptors and advocates. More and more aspects of business are becoming social and those who don't adapt early and participate often are soon to be left behind. Specifically from a training standpoint, we have seen the landscape shift from traditional methods to an emphasis on informal learning techniques where those in fear of or irritated by the “squeaky shoes” are missing out in even more ways, including chances to collaborate, share and innovate peer-to-peer.

  • Marvin Tumbo


    You are right. In recognition of the importance of training in not only getting organizations to get over their fears of squeaky shoes, I will be introducing training courses for Kenyan SME's. The fear of social media can be traced back to ignorance and misinformation. Hopefully, the training we will offer will help more businesses engage more via social media and reap its benefits.