Friday, November 13, 2009

No Time to Wait

In life and work, there is often a disconnect between what we should be doing and what we actually do. The signs we see along the way can be conflicting and confusing.

When it comes to communications, moving forward with Social Media policies, plans and strategies is the most important work PR pros need to be doing right now. I saw some statistics the other day that highlight what people are actually doing: moving too slowly into the Social Media world.

I'm not sure they realize the reputational risk they take by waiting.

Here are the numbers that caught my eye during a Communications Executive Council Webinar on Managing Reputation in Online Conversations.
  • 57% of companies have no Social Media policy
  • 71% of companies have no Social Media strategy
  • 79% of companies have no instructions for responding to Social Media posts made by outside parties
A lot of people trumpet the virtues of Social Media from the standpoint of the opportunity it offers and opportunity abounds, to be sure. Those numbers from the CEC show that companies are not only missing the opportunity presented by Social Media, they aren't even doing the minimum work needed to protect their company from the risks inherent in the new environment.

A lot of folks I know describe their companies as risk-averse. Yet, many of those companies have no Social Media policy, strategy or guidelines. How is that averting a risk?

In 2008, people spent 20.5 billion minutes on Facebook. Now, people spend 8 billion minutes on Facebook every day. What took a year in 2008 takes 2.5 days now. That number is staggering.

Both of the CEC panelists (Alex Dudley, VP Public Relations at Time Warner Cable and Nick Caplan, Corporate PR Manager for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe) urged people to just get started. Paraphrasing Dudley's take on things... Everyone is finding their way in this new environment, you can't wait until the path is well-worn before getting started.

Need a Social Media policy? There are plenty of examples online. Social Media Governance has an online database of policies. Need Social Media monitoring software? "In" Seattle News has a list of 12 free Social Media monitoring tools.

Need advice from people who are already engaged in Social Media? Ask. Most likely people will be happy to help.

Uncertainty loves company.

Bill Salvin

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