Craig Coblenz, Director of media sales for Facebook, was the resident thought leader, and Tara Lamberson, VP of Marketing, MindComet, was the moderator of an afternoon breakout, “Balancing Web 2.0 & User Generated Initiatives with Traditional Marketing.”
Facebook is growing 1.2 million users per week, with 31 million active users. Apple, for instance, has a sponsored Apple Students group within Facebook with 417,000+ members.
Top challenges or concerns about Facebook and other sources of consumer generated media cited in the breakouts included:
- Losing control of brand messaging (or the perception of it) – risk of negative content and what do you do then?
- Do we want competitors to know who our customers are?
- Having the staff to monitor, manage and review comments and take action. Finding internal resources passionate about it and not having it be just an another add-on to their “real” work; making it a real job.
- Legal concerns – whether HIPAA for patients or in cases in which federal regulations (like Medicare supplement products) limit what a company can say.
- Complexity – understanding the customs of the social media to avoid missteps
- How many channels – which ones do you join (e.g. Facebook vs. MySpace vs. LinkedIn)
- Who takes it over and assumes continuity when the proponent of blogging leaves.
Craig said lots of companies want to be fast followers, not first adopters. They don’t want to be laggards, but they would like someone else to go first.
Some of the suggested solutions that were brainstormed for these challenges included creating a password protected intranet site as a first step to create comfort (or maybe an invitation-only blog on wordpress.com.) By starting small with internal blogs, people become familiar with the concept, and then as comfort builds you can evolve toward where you want to go.
Debby Brannon from TMNG Global recommended Wikinomics as a good resource, which I reviewed here yesterday.