A recent post by David Armano suggests companies will face five core challenges due to social media – whether or not they embrace or delay the transforming impact of the new technology: integration, governance, culture, HR and ROI. I agree with David’s argument; as I’ve written in several posts, in my experience most organizations considering social media focus on the technology and content but drastically underplay the more pedestrian topics like organization, process and even resources.

Most organizations have to create new roles, structures, routines and policies to efficiently manage their social media program(s) and this can be a laborious process in companies just entering the game and/or reluctant to change their existing infrastructure or funding model. In one recent personal experience, I spent as much time on logistics – forming new cross-functional editorial teams, defining policies, building a process, training key staff, securing adequate resources – as on the technology itself (though that wasn’t without learning pains.) Changes usually require disparate teams and functions – notably marketing, PR, IT and HR – to work much more closely together and ignore the historic silos or job descriptions. Inevitably, some departments will resist the changes without strong leadership directives. Going back to Armano’s model, the area that seems to really lag is metrics, which requires an organization to decide if and how it wants to measure the impact of its social media initiatives. This is not an easy topic to address even for the most progressive companies – since there is no accepted blueprint or easy empirical formula – so its no surprise many just choose to set it aside and hope for the best.

Ultimately, companies have to make a fundamental decision about their cultural DNA and perspective on communication. That will typically fuel the strategy and deployment of new resources and platforms. Without consensus on that core value, progress will remain elusive.

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