Social media shouldn’t be driving your culture change

There seems to be a lot of talk about ‘selling’ your organization on social media. I’ve probaby written a post or two about it myself. But a thought struck me earlier: Are we putting the cart before the horse if we have to work that hard to sell social media tools to our higher-ups?

Social media only works when there is buy-in at all levels. The tools work well for organizations that are comfortable being transparent and conversational. Those that aren’t tend to fail when / if they try to integrate social tools. They’re the ones with blogs that don’t allow comments and twitter feeds populated entirely with links and not an @ to be seen.

Advocates (like me) seem to spend a lot of time wondering how we can sell the merits of social media in our organizations. Wouldn’t the time be better spent trying to help build a culture that would eventually support such tools naturally?

It seems like I’m splitting hairs but I think they’re important hairs to be split. The tools shouldn’t be leading the strategies. The strategies must define the tools. If your business or association isn’t prepared to be conversational or open, stop trying to get them on Twitter.


  1. I agree that organizational buy-in for open communications is necessary so that social media tools can be effectively used; changing that organizational culture is beyond the scope of those tools, and in many cases outside the roles of the people who are advocating for their use.
    However, when everything I hear from other staff members points to a desire for this type of communication – without clearly articulating it – it’s time for me to ‘sell’. In many cases the goals of the organization or departments within it can be met by social media tools, but they don’t have the knowledge: a) that these tools exist; and b) to use them. I believe my role then becomes one of education, to convince others that these are viable options and, indeed, will provide better results than traditional methods of communication.
    I believe that lack of knowledge about social media is the largest barrier to its implementation in the organizations I’ve worked with, and that our role as advocates of these tools should be to educate staff and board members to ‘sell’ these solutions.

  2. Agreed… I think that we need to build the right “atmosphere” for the orgs to accept social networking… Like the fact that you and others are trying to get this off the ground… soon I’ll be able to contribute in a positive way… more to come

    Vishal Ranjane
    Twitter @vranjane

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