Econsultancy recently completed a study that revealed almost two-thirds of companies have experimented with social media, but haven’t launched significant campaigns. The biggest reason cited was “lack of resources.”

Hmm. Do you buy this?

Seeing as many companies block the use of sites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace by its employees, one could start to assume that the biggest reason for not making a serious effort to use social media and/or reputation and buzz monitoring tools is that they perceive a lack of control over it. So management attempts to control it from within by blocking the use of these sites (under the guise of taking away possible distractions from the work at hand), and don’t seek to understand it and how it can work to their organization’s advantage.

Several other issues could be at work here as well:

Tech Adverse Management: There are very intelligent people at all levels of management, including the very top, from small companies to international corporations, who call people into their offices to open Excel documents. They aren’t stupid by any stretch of the imagination. But they have talked themselves into believing they don’t understand “tech stuff” or “social media stuff” and so they stay as far away from it as possible. Now, in this case, what are the chances of getting these individuals to buy into participating in social media or use online tools to monitor what is being said about the company?

Public Relations Adverse (or Illiterate) Management: I feel the public believes that most CEOs are dynamic extroverts who glow at the thought of being called upon by the media to talk about what they know and the company. Nothing is further from the truth. Some, whether it is through previous bad experiences or just a distrust of the media in general, literally lock down their public relations departments, permit them only to send out the occasional new product or company announcement press release, then refuse to entertain any questions the media may have. So if traditional PR scares the pants off of them, participating in online discussions or reaching out to bloggers is out of the question.

The Legal Department: Everyone knows the function of the legal department is to keep the company from being sued, and if they are sued, to settle it as quickly as possible. Fine. But some are more…let’s say, diligent, about its role than others. I have worked with company legal departments who asked for SIGNED photo release forms from the Stepford-pretty models featured in stock art photos used in company-issued newsletters. I have been called and questioned about the use of the word “innovative” in a press release – and then forced to remove it, because I couldn’t prove that the product I was announcing was innovative. ‘Nuff said.

Fear: All of the issues above stem from fear of some kind. But the biggest is possibly the fear of suspecting negative things are being said, and not really wanting to confirm them. It might be worse than originally feared, company management might actually have to do something about it and aren’t ready to do so for whatever reason – money, resources, being forced to answer to shareholders, employees, vendors and the general public.

Lack of resources, when so many people participate in some type of social media such as LinkedIn or Facebook, is an excuse, and a pretty lame one.  There are well-publicized stories of companies that allowed unchecked online conversations to ruin the public’s perception of the organization and adversely affect its bottom line. The conversation goes on, 24/7, whether companies want it to or not. You can’t control everything being said online, but you can get your messages out there effectively and use it to control any situations that may arise. It’s as simple as the click of a mouse…

See the complete article, “PR Pros Still Experimenting With Social Media” at PRNewsonline.com.

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