Your social media pain points

Tom Liacas —  January 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

I recently sent a survey out to hundreds in the corporate sector asking them what their companies’ principal areas of friction were when it came to adopting social media. My thanks to all who shared their thoughts and experiences! Here below is a summary of your answers. Some revealing stuff here…

Biggest fear when it comes to social media for business?

In answer to the multiple choice question, “Which of these issues represent fears or control issues around social media in your corporate or institutional setting?”, respondents overwhelmingly chose “Time drain caused by need for rapid and continuous interaction”. This, over than the possibility of “Activist or angry consumer backlash through corporate social channels” or “Loss of control around brand message”, is what makes companies hesitate. And rightfully so! Social media management does take more time, especially when compared to pumping out a few press releases or approving a full page spread in a newspaper. While the former practices are on their way out, transitioning to an ongoing daily dialogue with consumers and stakeholders will mean more hands on deck to keep up.

Biggest stumbling block for greater social media adoption in a company or institution?

Here, the vast majority identified “Difficulty of demonstrating ROI from social activities” as the barrier to greater adoption over “Lack of proper technical skill set among internal teams” or “Extra legal work to clear all the content before publication”. Return on Investment is indeed a critical question that the VP approving a social budget is bound to probe. Many have written on this in general terms but finding numbers specific to each company’s situation is a lot of hard work. Still, as with all disruptive technology, I predict the request for ROI figures will wane as time goes on. Since we are in the early days of social media in the business setting, the adoption of this ‘novelty’ is viewed with caution. I am sure that, if we dug back through company archives in the 90s, we would find many reports on the ROI of ‘opening a space on the World Wide Web’.

True stories of social media in the workplace:

Here I handed the mike over to you. Below are some highlighted responses from respondents with some info changed to preserve anonymity.

“A platform like yammer has allowed us to bring people into social networking…a nice way to introduce people in a company… a softer way of landing people is to allow them in as individuals rather than official spokespeople…”

“Employees are theoretically empowered to speak on social media platforms (in our case a technical blog), but no time is set aside to actually do this — a good blog post can take several hours to write.”

“I worked for an engine manufacturer that embodies the characteristics of a dinosaur that does not know how to evolve. They created a facebook page to celebrate an anniversary but access to facebook (along with essentially every other social media site) is blocked from inside the company. Nevertheless, they were surprised that people didn’t visit or share their facebook page enough!”

“I work in the energy industry which has been very reluctant to embrace social media for fear of anti-industry backlash. However, there are some companies starting to leverage power of social media to spread their corporate and industry messages. In those cases they have one dedicated social media manager that has a marketing background that is given fair amount of “leash” to provide commentary/blog posts and interact on social media channels. I think handing over that control is a difficult concept for conservative industries.

“My organization established 3 years ago with 4 employees were very to adopt to various Social media. However as the size grew (we are now 300+) the control mechanism got saturated or rather diluted. Use of various medium became ad-hoc more like a corporate grapevine. Some serious concern areas have control over brand identity, corporate & marcomm, associate output work time. IN effect we had bring in some organization curbs not really cutting out everything but kind of sizing down on certain popular and specific media/forums.”

What needs to change in the corporate or institutional setting…

Again, selected responses from you edited for length and anonymity.

“Understanding not just ROI provided by effective and strategic social media execution but also the impact & advantages of involving the entire organization in using social media to communicate the corporation’s vision and values.”

“Companies need to understand that social media is not a waste of time but an essential component of life in the 21st century. This will be even more prominent as generation C (for Connected) hits the work force! The fears of wasting time are the same timeless fears that managers had when phones on every desk were becoming the norm and when email came out!”

“Legal and management review processes need to change because they don’t allow efficient interaction and responsiveness on social media. Management education on how social media could benefit the company industry and allowing senior marketing professional(s) “ownership” of social media outreach.”

“Everyone needs to understand the corporate message and believe in it. Then stay on message whenever they communicate. In the “old days” the PR dept could control the message. Not the case anymore.”

Do the above ring true with your experience? Feel free to add testimony of your own in the comments section below or email it to me with a request for anonymity at: tom AT socialdisruptions Dotcom.

Tom Liacas

Tom Liacas

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An M.A. graduate in Media Studies, Tom Liacas is a senior Online Reputation Strategist who cut his teeth creating and managing networked campaigns well before the term 'social media' existed. Innovating in the trenches of digital activist groups such as Indymedia and Adbusters in the 90s, Tom gained a deep understanding of what makes corporations and governments vulnerable to social media crisis and, conversely, how to adapt their communications to create productive exchanges with their stakeholders. In his career so far, Tom has personally overseen the sale, design and management of over 2 million dollars’ worth of social media projects for clients in the Fortune 500, the resource and energy sectors and the public sector.