Overcoming Obstacles to Social Media Integration

by Shannon Paul on April 10, 2009

Two speaking gigs in two days might be a regular sort of week for some people, but for me it’s kind of a big deal.

Thursday night I gave a full hour presentation on this subject for the Ann Arbor Ad Club and right now I’m ramping up to deliver a brief version of of the same presentation to a group at the Module Midwest Digital Conference.

Other speakers here today at Module include:

Chris Brogan – @chrisbrogan
Amber Naslund – @ambercadabra
Scott Monty – @scottmonty
Marcel Lebrun – @lebrun
Ken Burbary – @kenburbary
Adrian Pittman – @adrianpittman
Jeremy Tanner – @penguin
Oz Sultan – @ozsultan
Damian Rintelmann – @drintelmann
and Terry Bean – @terrybean (graciously agreed to moderate the presentation despite it also being Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers)

Also, thanks to Tracy Lindsay (@tracylindsay) and Annie Wolock (@A2Annie) for inviting and arranging everything for the Ann Arbor Ad Club.

Here are the slides I used to give both presentations:
[slideshare id=1272674&doc=overcomingobstaclestosm-090410103423-phpapp01]

We all know there are a lot of obstacles to integrating social media, but I think it helps to understand why. I think it’s all about culture… what do YOU think?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

April 10, 2009 ecairn 1

Slide 16: I wonder why you didn’t mention blogs in the list. I still believe that blogs are the base of operations of SM influencers thus a critical piece of the puzzle. That may change as technology evolves quickly but for now that’s where I see influencers materializing the most (and yes they’re on twitter, facebook etc but the essence of their personality is first understood through their blogs). Don’t you see it that way?


April 10, 2009 Shannon Paul 2

Of course I think blogs are important — especially since I put a lot of time and effort into my own. I didn’t list blogs on slide 16 because I was making a list of *other* places that blog content — or any other content a company/individual makes for that matter — could be shared within. Sometimes I think it’s hard to summarize an entire presentation simply from the visual elements. I just share them here in hopes they can help others formulate their own thoughts.


April 10, 2009 Dilo 3

Shannon – most of what I read and learn about social media deals with it as a communications device (shifting the approach from broadcasting to dialog) that companies need to be convinced of, particularly at the C-level. What I am curious about is, are there companies that are positioning social media as a platform to increase avidity? conversion? acquisition? If so, how?


April 12, 2009 Shannon Paul 4

There are a lot of companies using social media to do these things, but the *how* is almost always different. In a way, social media is like handmade communication. The internal cultural chasms are addressed by individuals within the company who have taken it upon themselves to do some major bridge-building. This requires a lot of mental agility, empathy and a willingness to find solutions where others only see problems. It also takes thick skin — the word “no” will be heard often. Instead of giving up, compromise, negotiate and return to the table.

Our culture is changing whether *we* adapt or not. The companies that do will be poised for greater success while those that don’t will have more and more challenges. Waiting for case studies isn’t the answer — for so many it will be too late before the evidence becomes heavy enough to tip the scales. Use the studies that exist and note the deeper fundamental cultural shift and apply parallel answers to your existing challenges. That’s the best thing I know. There are no easy answers.


April 11, 2009 Cosmin Ghiurau 5


Great meeting you and hearing you speak at Module 09 this past April 10th, 2009.

Wish you well on your new endeavor and looking forward to your insights and collaboration in the future!




April 12, 2009 Shannon Paul 6


Thank you. It was great meeting you, too finally. So glad you could make the event. :)


April 11, 2009 JustinSMV 7

Great slide Shannon! I think the biggest obstacle in implementing social media today is the barrier of embracing web 2.0 change. Most companies and people still don’t understand the meaning of engagement on social platform and still have old school thinking of having a website and email and your done.


April 12, 2009 Shannon Paul 8


I think you and I are on the same page. The reasons companies have so many barriers to embracing Web2.0 change is one of a resistant corporate culture. The resistance is nothing new; companies in the late 80s/early 90s resisted email and basic Internet access, companies in the 1930s resisted letting employees have telephone access. The true integration of the social web into business processes is dependent on companies willingness to trust their employees and consumers to engage in productive communication.


April 13, 2009 Grant Heitkamp 9


Very nice little slide presentation. Definitely hits on the big obstacles facing us agencies offering Social Media.

“Getting executives to buy in” is our biggest hurdle. Seems like a good majority of young employees realize the benefit of Social Media, it’s just about convincing these dinosaurs at the top of certain companies.

The future is looking brighter and brighter everyday in respect to CEOs adopting Social Media, thanks to the mass education from people like yourself!

Really enjoy your blog, I have been reading it for quite some time, so I figured it was time to comment (and begin following you on Twitter).


April 14, 2009 jon burg 10

Shannon, all great points.

I would love to see a business model that does not look for some form of precedent. Waiting for a case study often means watching from the sidelines while the competition leads. However, innovating blindly is often as dangerous as driving blindfolded with the pedal to the metal. Sure, you may get there faster, but you’re just as likely to crash and burn.

The happy medium that I have found was in grouping related case studies and examples from both the online and the offline word of mouth space. Once you break the stigma of “new technology” and make the story about the familiar user social behavior (and most of social is fairly familiar to anyone who went to kindergarten), I have found that demands for case studies that draw an exact parallel diminish. That being said, there is a cultural fear, particularly in this economy, for taking a gamble.

Why risk it all for big wins when you can check the innovation box and show incremental gains and learnings?

PS – I love that you didn’t mention blogs in slide 16. Blogs are a broad and misunderstood being. The majority of leading active conversation on most topic takes place across a select group of blogs and often takes place in fairly contained communities, forums or newsgroups.

We need to break the social = facebook and social = blogs stigma. Social is a marketing discipline that inspires and harnesses that power and momentum of the ebbs and flows of the community.

Great stuff, I’m loving it!


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