It's dangerous for organizations to be communicating without a plan for what they want to say and how to say it, and communicating via Web social media channels surely is no exception.
Yet, in a recent survey, only 51 percent of the firms who said they were using social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube had a strategic plan in place for doing so, and 88 percent agreed it's important to have such a plan. Is fascination with social media or pressure to use the new channels, getting ahead of orderly business processes? It would seem so.
Digital Brand Expressions (DBE), a Web marketing firm in Kingston, N.J, conducted the survey of 100 companies in May. Given the findings, it's aptly entitled, "Social Media Without a Parachute."
Almost unbelievably, DBE found that "Surprisingly, even for the firms that do have a strategic plan in place, only 29 percent reported distributing policies and/or communications protocols to employees. This leaves the majority of organizations exposed to problems arising from employees saying the wrong things in the wrong ways to the wrong people at the wrong time."
There's a lot of helpful details in the DBE report, but it's dismaying to see that even in the firms with social media plans, human resources, customer service, and general employee usage are typically not included. Marketing, public relations, and sales have the lead, and that's about it. Don't most employees have access to computers? Don't they need guidance on relating to the public via the Web? We're not just playing games here.
For richer or poorer, Web communication is going to be an increasing part of business reality. True, the new modes have been coming on fairly quickly, but CEOs need to get effectively tuned into their value (and potential liabilities). We recommend the DBE survey for clues on how to proceed.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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