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Four Reasons for Slow Social Media Adoption

October 23, 2013 | By Julie Ogilvie

The causes of slow social media adoption often lie outside the control of the marketing team. The definition of a normal level of social participation is relative, depending on the type of company or industry, so calibrate your expectations accordingly.

What separates organizations that are running at full speed in social media from those that are just beginning to crawl? The causes of slow social media adoption often lie outside the control of the marketing team. It’s good to have an understanding of these factors so you can calibrate your expectations accordingly. Here are a few questions you should ask:

  • What is the norm for social media adoption in my industry? The tech industry is clearly farther along than any other market. Many tech companies began their social media journey a decade or more ago. This leads many companies to emulate these programs, but before following suit, ask yourself whether your target audience will appreciate your efforts. Are your customers regular users of social media? Or do they prefer email and phone contact? If your audiences don’t “do” social, you may find your programs struggling to gain critical mass.
  • What does the legal approval process look like? For companies in highly regulated industries, legal approval is required for virtually all external communication. In the world of social media, where a speedy response is important, requiring legal approval for every tweet or post will make it very difficult (if not impossible) to get a social program running. You can help educate the legal team on what is happening in social, but at the end of the day, be realistic about what you can hope to achieve.
  • How well are you resourced? A common complaint is that social media efforts are severely under-resourced. Some organizations augment internal resources with help from agencies, which can work well with agencies familiar with the do’s and don’ts of your communications policies. My best advice for marketing teams in this position: Develop laser-focused goals, decide how you can prove value to the organization, then make the case for new headcount in the year ahead.
  • How much executive support can you count on? Many of our clients report that all-out resistance to social is diminishing, but real support and active participation are hard to come by. We are frequently asked, “How can I get my executives to blog?” The truth is that most executive blogs are ghost written, and very few executives are out there tweeting. If your execs aren’t naturally inclined to use social media, focus on developing active subject matter experts who value their personal brands and actually enjoy using social media.
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    Don’t despair! The definition of a normal level of social participation is relative, depending on the type of company or industry. And there are ways to quietly demonstrate the value of social as you build the case (e.g. by monitoring and reporting insights).

    Do you have some helpful ideas for colleagues who may be struggling to get social programs off the ground? Let us know what’s worked for you!

    Julie Ogilvie

    Julie Ogilvie is a Senior Research Director of Strategic Communications Management at SiriusDecisions. She has held a variety of leadership roles in marketing and communications in her 20+ year career, for both B2B and B2C companies. Follow her on Twitter at @julieogilvie.