11/18/2010 04:30 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Five Reasons Why Ignoring Social Media Is Dangerous

I've heard all the excuses: we don't do social media, social media isn't for B2B, blogs are the "Wild West" and so on. For many companies, the temptation to stick a head in the sand is powerful. Even if it means a missed opportunity, the conventional thinking goes, at least missing the boat isn't inherently damaging. A lost opportunity doesn't necessarily mean surrendering what you have already ... right?

Well, the conventional wisdom is wrong. Not getting involved in social media marketing is risky, and here are five unavoidable reasons why:

1. The Conversation Doesn't Need You
If you close your eyes, do you disappear? Of course not. This is the case with social media, too. Clients, employees (former and current) and the general public are talking about you. Unless you engage in at least basic social media monitoring, you'll have no idea what they're saying. Getting nervous?

2. Your Competitors Are Already There
Missing an opportunity is a problem in itself -- ceding an opportunity to the competition is a nightmare. When this happens, the gap between you and them widens disproportionately, requiring a greater investment for you to catch up (if you even can). The risk of falling behind just keeps climbing ...

3. You Have competition You Don't Know About
Social media lowers market entry barriers. Even "premium" social media marketing solutions, such as custom Facebook applications, are relatively inexpensive to create. Niche players and start-ups can get a lot of attention easily -- from your core market. Unless you're actively engaged in social media, you won't know about this, perhaps, until it's too late.

4. Everyone Else Is Investing
Sixty-nine percent of B2B marketers are increasing their investments in social media, according to research by MarketingSherpa. Only 4 percent are cutting, and 27 percent report no change in investment levels. Someone is talking to your target market, and if you aren't investing in social media marketing, it isn't you.

5. Social Media Is Only Growing
LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are not only attracting new users, they're continually releasing new features that help increase engagement, create content and provide new methods of outreach. As a result, these environments are becoming more robust. Companies that already have social media strategies in place will see the benefits multiply, while laggards will lose ground faster.