zondag 19 april 2009

5 reasons why companies resist social media

Why do enterprises have so much difficulty embracing social media within their corporate culture? that's an important issue. With technology emerging, platforms and networks abundant and social interaction between consumers on the rise, why don't enterprises just don't jump into it? I detected 5 reasons why you will meet with resistance when introducing the concept of social media involvement.

1° What's the ROI?

Social Media advocates have to prove that it's more than 'chatting' and 'exchanging recipes' and gossip. You don't do that by providing traditional metrics like 'reach' or 'frequency'. The powerfulness of people interacting on social platforms goes far beyond that. Having one million Facebook fans doesn't mean a thing if these people don't interact about your service or product.

The easiest way to prove ROI is by measuring business results as compared to effort produced by the company. E.g. we were able to hire two sales managers by spending 5 hours posting and interacting through social media. There are efforts to make social topics measurable (have a look at 
Google Trends or BuzzTrend), but they don't go yet in the core of interaction.

Remedy: test and build business cases. Link to your business objectives. In the end, that's the only ROI that matters.

2° Who should be in charge of Social Media? And who will be paying it within the company?

Social media are cross-departmental. It's about customers service, customer relations, product placement and positioning, marketing, HR, selling, corporate governance... I think it would be wise for companies to install a cross-departmental cell exploring social media, and allocating budgets to them. When deliverables are tested, ready to implement and business value proved, budgets will become available. This will make it easier for social mediaters to become part and parcel of the department concerned.

3° Fear of handing over control to customers

Letting people determine how image of a company is perceived, well that's....freaky to CEO's.They want to stay in control. As we all know by now, that 'control' has been lost a long time ago. If you're in the middle of controversy (like banks or automobile manufacturers), fighting off negative news or having to deal with a bad reception of a new product (or even packaging, as the
Tropicana case proved), you will experience that losing control goes very fast when it comes to reputation, sales, stock option value, staff loyalty and finally, income. As Warren Buffett tells, "it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently. " (or 10'23'' if you're the phone house and you have to deal in real life with angry customers. In Dutch)

DON'T: confront company executives with all negative comments on twitter, Facebook, forums, etc... to make a point. They will immediately go on the defensive.

BUT: offer them a standard monitoring of some keywords of his choice by using e.g. Yahoo Pipes which allows a customer easily to view reports every day/week/month. And then go back. It will give you and them a common ground for discussion.

4° Fear of handing over control to employees

Companies have very clear regulations about blogging by their employees or using social media during working hours. With stakeholders and competition reading along and monitoring what's going on, giving much liberty to your employees to express what they think on behalf of the company can be damaging. But not interacting with your customers can be even more harmful.

Employees have their own online social networks. It can be used to the benefit of the company for recruiting, testing, marketing, sales, training, gathering information in many innovative ways. The trouble with non-customer oriented employees is that they're not always the best communicators. And that even excellent communicators may not have all necessary social media skills to blog or twitter the appropriate way.

It helps when a company has a customer service or call center operations. Address them to champion your projects.  Establish blog policies and train the people who are willing to go along with you in whatever social media skills they need to perform brilliantly.

5° Fear of marketers, advertising and PR-professionals of having their expertise being challenged by new paradigms

There are agencies and marketers out there whose main focus lies on positioning brands and products. They want to give customers a well-controlled image of the brand and product.

A second class of marketers goes for all kinds of activating the brand. Experiencing and feeling a brand is their main objective. But it's still 'we decide what you have to feel or believe about our brand' type of manager.

A third kind of marketer is to be found within DM and online. Interaction is essential, but it still follows a well-defined scenario for talking with the customer: a fill-out form on a website or a reply-form in a paper mailing.

All these communication professionals have to let go of their paradigms and experience to embrace social media. Some do, and some don't. Your efforts of providing information, sensitizing, generously sharing learnings are key to marketing and pr-departments, because other departments will turn to them for advice and guidance when they want to set up their proper social media projects.

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