Amy Mengel kickstarted a great conversation with her post, 5 Reasons Corporations are Failing at Social Media at Social Media Today. To summarize, corporations fail at social media because:
1. They can’t talk about anything broader than their own products.
2. They listen to customers but don’t take any action.
3. They aren’t calibrated internally with the technology.
4. They’re not framing risk accurately.
5. Their internal culture isn’t aligned for social media success.
Among the many insightful comments on this post, I was particularly struck by Jeremy Victor’s suggestion of a sixth reason: Organizations have become so lean due to the recession that even to execute a “non rocket science” activity is difficult. As Jeremy suggests, the economic downturn has depleted organizational resources, and it’s possible that companies are foregoing social media campaigns because they simply don’t have the ability to do it right. I hope this is true, but I have my doubts. Unfortunately, many organizations still view social media as a cheap and easy alternative to traditional marketing channels. The failure to dedicate sufficient resources has less to do with concerns about getting it right during lean times than with the false assumption that it doesn’t take much to succeed. The second, third, and fifth reasons Amy offers point to potentially significant investments on the part of corporations. They require a new level of marketing commitment (engagement and interaction versus unidirectional messaging), a recalibration of business processes (to take advantage of information about customers and competitors obtained through social media outreach), and even a reimagining of the organizational culture (placing customer service at the forefront of organizational concerns). All of this points to more than just an investment of time and money. Done correctly, social media has the potential to completely transform corporate identities. And that may be the biggest impediment of all.