What’s stopping your organization from using social media effectively?

While many companies are using social media to build relationships with their customers, position their experts as thought leaders, deliver customer service and generate leads, many more are struggling to get started.  Commonly cited barriers to launching social media programs include:

  • Fear:  The perceived risks of being active in social networks have hobbled institutional will
  • Lack of resources or time:  Communcations and marketing departments are running on minimal budgets and lean staffs
  • Concerns about measurement and demonstrating ROI – especially important when budgets are constrained
  • Regulatory constraints

How to overcome intertia? A recent seminar by Michael Pranikoff, PR Newswire’s director of emerging media, offered some stats and tips.

One particular key to getting a social media program off the ground  is finding the internal champion to sell the program to internal stakeholders. You’ll need someone who can educate others and make the case across departments and budgets.   In so many cases, fear of the unknown and resistance to change is the biggest obstacle blocking the path to a social media presence.

    Cindy Rakowitz of BR Public Relations takes a very practical approach to educating hesitant clients.  “Let’s face it–social media is still the most cost efficient way to reach a customer,” she says. “ Even the most skeptical will open their minds when they listen to case studies about businesses that have benefitted from clever social media campaigns. The best thing we can do as marketing professionals is continue to coach and educate businesses about the medium on a regular basis.”

    • Just do it.  Some of the most successful social media ventures were started simply when one person from the company started a Twitter account.   Waiting until the strategy is perfected can hamstring a program before it even gets off the ground.

    Kim Cunningham, manager of external communications and government relations at the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation, agrees, noting “People seem to believe that they need to have all the answers before they begin to blog rather than using the blog to generate dialogue, information and conversation.”

    Systematically identifying internal barriers – and then focused efforts on overcoming them – will help get the wheels moving on your nascent social media program.   Did you have to overcome barriers when launching your organization’s social media program?

    Authored by Sarah Skerik, vice president, social media, PR Newswire.

    Image courtesy of Intersection Consulting, via Flickr Creative Commons.

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