It’s no small feat for a company to transition to become a social business. One would think that it’s easier for smaller organizations, but companies of all sizes face the following barriers.
1. Traditionalists are afraid of change. How many times have you heard, “What we’ve been doing has been working, so why change?” The biggest challenge is the concept of placing content in social channels where it’s shareable. The paradigm and the purpose of the corporate website and where content lives needs to be adjusted.
2. Governance stifles creativity. Trust is required to allow staff in a social business to experiment and be nimble. Stringent policies and procedures need to be flexible enough to provide guidance but not be too strict. Consider providing best practices and gain buy in across business units by providing support and gathering a collective group that meets on a regular basis and brainstorms new ideas.
3. Business functions aren’t always willing to share budgets. Cost centers can create silos when the company’s culture doesn’t encourage collaboration. Social isn’t black and white. There is quite a journey to get to the point where the insights and results from social media are being utilized by specific business functions. A company may start out with a marketing presence in the social channels, but quickly realize that customer service also needs to participate. And vice versa, customer support needs in the social channels may draw the organization into social, but information on product marketing needs to be routed appropriately.
4. Executives need to realize that it will take more than a quarter. Social media isn’t a campaign. The more engagement that is realized, the more community building that happens. That results in the optimum customer experience, but it will also require more time to measure the results. Executive sponsorship is imperative and the expectation need to be established that the effort is long-term.
5. Social efforts are managed externally by agencies. As businesses become more social, one of the priorities is to train staff and empower them to engage directly in social channels. The advantage is that business units will start to integrate roles that will take on responsibilities for content calendars, brand monitoring, finding insights and responding to them. I agree with this article that this will result in cost savings for a social business and will encourage faster evolution internally. Complete reliance on agencies makes it difficult to break down siloes and collaborate.
None of these are insurmountable. They do require a consistent strategy to ensure that none of them impede progress. What challenges or barriers do you see organizations have in becoming a social business?