Image by HubSpot via FlickrI've been doing quite a lot of speaking at 'online' conference events and workshops recently (this will surprise nobody who knows me) and consequently meeting a lot of people who are experimenting with social media within their organisations. It's something of a growing trend - typically, one person within an organisation has been using Facebook or Twitter, even blogging, and has come to realise that there is very real value to the organisation in 'being there'. A lot of these people come from the communications department, although by no means all. At a recent event where I spoke to an audience of event managers, I found quite a lot of people who had responsibility for companies' events were the drivers behind introducing social media to their organisations.
Something of a pattern has started to emerge. The enthusiast is given permission to open up a social media account because it seems harmless enough - the company's management doesn't 'get' social media and so doesn't see any danger in letting the enthusiast play with it. The enthusiast starts out and quickly finds a ready audience of people responding, interacting and demanding information, access and insight. It all becomes hard to handle precisely because it has been successful - one person can't keep up with the volume but has gained enough experience to see the potential for this new medium.
So they go back to their management and point out that the experiment has been a great success, customers are now talking to the company over this new medium and appreciating the new degrees of access it brings. Can we expend the programme now?
And many I talk to are right in the middle of that conversation, mired in 'not just yet, there's a recession on you know' and 'What's the ROI?' reactions from the management team that has allowed this thing to develop so far precisely because it has ascribed it no importance.
Because we're hearing so much of this one problem, it's going to be one of the aspects of social media in the region that we're going to try and address at the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) workshop being held at the Emirates Academy in Dubai tomorrow. Dubbed 'Get Real About Social Media', the workshop's a three-hour session intended to provide some ideas, insight, assistance and feedback of a realistic nature (not three hours of 'join the conversation' schtick). I'm going to be co-presenting along with the delightful Samantha Dancy, the corporate communications manager of Jumeirah Group, who'll be bringing the benefit of her experience exploring social media from the client side. I'll be doing the usual gibbering and speaking in tongues.
You can get more information right here. The workshop's open to non-members, so you can always just pitch up and heckle.