MAD Perspectives Blog

 Overcoming Internal Social Media Hurdles

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 23, 2010

Are you afraid that your corporate culture and/or hierarchical organization structure are stifling your attempts at social media?  Then you need to take a step back and consider how to leverage social media in a way that balances culture, organization and open communication.

If your hurdle is related to culture, you must accept that it is not easy to change the corporate culture.  But, you can adapt.  For example, if your culture is one that struggles in the adoption of new technology, you probably haven’t even started using social media yet.  Your first goal should be to gain executive commitment for the use of social networking platforms as an additional communication channel.  You should be clear in your goals for using social media (i.e., thought leadership, market awareness, lead generation, etc.).  You could also find examples of other companies in your industry that are using social media.  You will want to have a clear, measurable strategy that will demonstrate clear benefits for adopting social media.

If your culture is one of privacy and protection of intellectual property, there is still a place for social media.  Employee use of social networking platforms is not an automatic disclosure of corporate secrets!  However, your overall social media plan should include definition of a social media policy that provides guidelines forwhat platforms the company will use, how employees use thesesocial networks, what kind of information can be shared (or not), and ramifications for violating these guidelines.  Innovative companies often create market shifting technology and want to protect this technology.  However, these same companies often have unique perspectives on the industry or intriguing histories of bringing products to market.  Social media provides a forum for sharing perspectives, without giving away IP, and inviting conversation that may lead to the next big innovation.

If your challenge is related to organizational structure, it is likely that the primary concern is one of employee empowerment.  Employees that do not feel empowered are unlikely to be comfortable with the open communication style required.  While the marketing department could be empowered to lead the effort, there are other options.  An option that will begin to build cross-company employee interest is to gain executive support and sponsorship.  Once you gain that support, work with your executive sponsor to develop an internal communication plan regarding the company’s development of a social media strategy.  This will provide employees with an ongoing view of the goals of the strategy and executive support for it.  By the time it is time to implement the strategy, some employees will be eager to participate thus alleviating the pressure on the marketing department.

These are just a few examples of overcoming cultural or organizational challenges before implementing a social media strategy.  Social media provides many benefits that make it well worth the effort to knock down internal hurdles.  What are the hurdles your company is facing?

What’s your perspective?