Monday, September 14, 2009

Companies Excited About Social Media's Promise, Wary of Its Perils

Businesses of all sizes and types are excited about the potential that social media poses for their businesses. However, at the same time, a recent survey indicates they're entering into the area with a bit of trepidation at the same time.

The survey, conducted by Minneapolis-based brand consultancy Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law, found that 40 percent of businesses surveyed are holding back on implementing a social-media plan because of security and confidentiality concerns. Other top issues that were impacting the implementation of social-media efforts included employee productivity and a general lack of understanding regarding social media.

Those who have begun to embrace social media still have a lot of work to do from a planning perspective, according to the survey. In fact, only one third have established any social-media policy and a mere 10 percent have conducted any kind of social-media training.

I've written in this space and elsewhere that social media won't necessarily be the elixir that every company hopes. However, it's a very cost effective way to maintain and increase brand awareness and keep current and prospective clients and customers engaged with your brand. But before companies can capitalize on its business potential, they first need to take steps within their organizations to establish policies and procedures that will guide and govern its use.

Failing to do so not only raises the potential that a company will miss a big opportunity when it comes to social media, but it also exposes that company to many potential liabilities, legal and otherwise. Now that we're entering the fourth quarter of the year and many people have their eyes on 2010 hoping for a sustained economic turnaround, the time to begin planning for the future -- social media and otherwise -- is now.