Top 5 obstacles to social media success

From an uncooperative IT department to a minimal budget, here are five common obstacles social media teams face. Can you relate?

When I work with clients on marketing strategies, we spend a lot of time working through the hurdles to implementation—particularly if it is a large, bureaucratic company.

Part of the process is a brainstorming session to think through all the factors that could cause our ideas to fail. Then we come up with proactive countermeasures to knock out those landmines before they blow our plans to pieces.

One Fortune 500 company I work with has been aggressively moving its marketing team into the digital age. They reported to me that no matter where they go in the world, the same five factors come up over and over again.

As I compare this to my experience working with organizations of every size and type, I think these five factors are universal. They seem to be the same obstacles everybody struggles with.

1. Budget and resources

  • “We already have a full plate. We don’t have time for something new.”
  • “We’ll let the intern do it.”
  • “This will have to wait until next year’s budgeting cycle.”

2. Return on investment (ROI)/key performance indicators (KPI)

  • “Until you can demonstrate an ROI for this, the project is on hold.”
  • “Social media is fine if you can fit it into our existing measurement dashboard.”
  • “We need to make social media a profit center that pulls its weight.”

3. IT support

  • “Shouldn’t the IT department own social media strategy?”
  • “IT is too busy figuring out cloud computing to help with your Facebook app.”
  • “The IT budget is fixed on projects like infrastructure.”

4. The legal department/regulations

  • “Federal guidelines prohibit us from having a social media presence.”
  • “The legal department will have to approve everything we publish.”
  • “The legal risk of responding to consumers is far too great. Say nothing.”

5. Culture and change management

  • “Facebook is for kids, not for our company.”
  • “I tried Twitter and hated it. Nobody on the board uses it either, so our company doesn’t need it.”
  • “Our company is very successful, and we’ve been doing the same thing for years. If it isn’t broken, why fix it?”

Sound familiar?

Of these, culture is the most pervasive challenge. It’s sort of an umbrella problem for all these issues because, even if you fix the others, you will never create sustainable change if the company culture doesn’t align with the requirements of a social organization.

As you create marketing plans for your business—or if your current efforts are stagnant—maybe it’s time to step back and look at the landmines that keep you from your goals. Focus on removing the internal roadblocks, because it will give you the only chance of long-term marketing success.

This takes time and patience. But if you don’t do this hard work upfront, even the most brilliant plan is destined for a slow, painful failure.

How do you deal with your social media minefield?

Mark Schaefer is the author of “Return On Influence and blogs at grow, where this article originally appeared.

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