Most initiatives we have seen face any of these tricky challenges:

  1. There isn’t anything solid about Social Media. Yet. We are all just learning how this works – while the target is still moving at racing speed. Some are thinking without doing. Others are doing without thinking. Without a good dose of humility about try-and-error approaches, we won’t get very far. However, corporate governance for new initiative prefers predictable outcomes with a “proven ROI”.
  2. Real budget dollars are at stake. Recently, when asked where the dollars for Social Media come from, a retail marketing executive – after hesitating – pointed to print and direct marketing budgets. Social Media is not the land of honey where everybody wins. There are entrenched incumbents who stand to lose significant resources.
  3. The culture eats the strategy for breakfast. Business leaders can’t afford to speak out against Social Media. However, their organizations are rarely set up to accept the risks along the opportunities. Engaging in true conversations?
    “We just have a myriad of 1-way paths to the customer.” What about the potential damage to our brand if we don’t have this under our control?”
    “Not sure if we can trust our people with postings, without web compliance involved.”

Using Social Media for customer Engagement is not so much a technology or education problem as it is a challenge to the culture. Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff acknowledged that at the heart of their “Groundswell” contribution.

When you happen to talk to vendors of Social Media, try to figure out if you are meeting someone with expertise in changing cultures.  – More on that later.