Sunday, May 22, 2011

Organisations: Delay Using Social Media at Your Own Risk

In a recent presentation to the Public Relations Department of a large multi-national organisation, I asserted the need for organisations to actively engage their stakeholders via Social Media. While acknowledging that it was inevitable for his organisation to do so, the Public Relations Director expressed his fear that his company was “not yet ready” to do so. This was because he believed that his organisation had a lot of detractors and using Social Media would open an avalanche of negative press which his organisation could not adequately respond to.

Unfortunately, the Public Relations Director's fear is typical of most large organisations. I then asked him the following series of questions:

- Do you think that by avoiding a presence on Social Media, your organisation will keep your detractors comments and views off the Internet? If no, then in terms of issues management, would it not be better if you knew every negative thing that was been said about your organisation?

- Are all your detractors complaints and grouses valid? If yes, would it not benefit your organisation to know what they are so that you address them? Do you think that engaging your detractors and offering your point of view can convert some of them? If not all your detractors complaints and grouse are valid, then would it not be good for you to clarify the mis-perceptions?

- Do you think that your organisation can ever be ready? If no, then will there ever be a “right” time?

So the bottom line is this. Social Media's impact on your organisation is real and it is occurring with or without your participation. As such, it is best to participate so that you can at least tell your side of the story. Next, being aware of all the complaints and grouses being levelled at your organisation has advantages as it will allow you to address the valid ones and clarify the false. In addition, a Social Media presence will enable you to centralise everything into one place for ease of management. And, finally, since no organisation can ever be ready, delaying ones participation serves no purpose and it will allow your detractors time and space to continue their attacks against you and enlarge their support base.

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