7 Barriers to Social Media in Business

Dilbert cartoon strip making fun of the fact that business social media policies can prevent social media implementation from working
Dilbert cartoon from http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2010-09-13/

My friend sent me a link to this Dilbert strip this morning and it made me laugh. It got me thinking about how company policy or cultural norms can be barriers to successful social media marketing. Here are the top 7 barriers to using social media in business:

1. Trust

Dilbert captures it perfectly.

If you trust your staff to speak to customers on the phone, in emails, letters and in person, why not trust them to speak to customers on social media? I can understand some nervousness because social platforms are public and therefore the conversation is in front of the world, but nowadays there is nothing stopping a customer publishing your other communications to them on their own networks. At least if you’re involved in the conversation your opinion can be heard.

2. The wrong people

My personal view and the approach that is becoming more popular and is regularly being proven as best practice, is that customer service teams, NOT marketing teams should manage company social networks. Think about your call centre operatives- they are trained to the highest standards in customer care, they know how to speak to your customers and they know your products and services inside out. So if you give them a little bit more training, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to extend their skills to what is just another customer communications route.

3. Training

When social media is new to a business, it’s prudent to provide training on:

  • Processes for dealing with enquiries
  • Complaints and crisis management
  • Systems
  • The written word (spelling, punctuation and grammar) and
  • Tone of voice and communications style.

Appropriate training will deliver successful social media. It will also support you to manage staff performance.

4. Software/ systems

Even if you’re not ‘speaking’ on social media, every company should be ‘listening’ to what is being said about them. There are many excellent social media management systems on the market such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social. Here’s a really good infographic that compares the features of the top social media monitoring tools.

5. Time

One of the first questions I’ve always been asked when I’ve introduced social media to businesses, is “How long will it take each day?” There really is no right answer to this question. It takes as long as it takes. If you don’t set aside time, your social media will fail.

6. Management

Senior managers need to understand and embrace any change programme for it to become truly embedded within the company. Implementing a major communications change by introducing social media needs understanding and support from the top. Not every CEO has to tweet or become an ‘Influencer’ on LinkedIn, but it’s good if they at least comprehend the need for Social and its real measures of success.

7. Strategy

I think that say 3 years ago it was OK to just start tweeting and see what happened but that’s not the case anymore. Especially in organisations where social media management is shared across different teams who all need awareness of the overall goal and the activities involved in reaching it.

Successful conversations on social media rely on engaging content. Content doesn’t produce itself and it needs preparation and planning. Without a plan, how do you know if you’re achieving your objectives?

What other barriers to using social media in business have you come across?



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