Generalizations are always dangerous. If we're not careful, we sweep the complexity of human interactions under the rug. And we would not want to do that. There is a range and richness in behaviors within various contexts that we'd be hard pressed to document, let alone describe. Indulge me in this post. I will make a leap and jump directly from observation to conclusions. No research, no surveys, no back up aside from gut and experience.
The main reason why corporate social media is difficult to do is that social media by definition wants to express voice and opinion. When we discuss something someone else has talked about, we link, we provide credit directly. Hat tip, recognition, trackbacks, comments, all of those good practices researchers use when they quote studies. We quote opinions the same way. It's the honorable thing to do. We give credit where credit is due, we get credit for the same reasons. If I am basing my thought on your voice and opinion, I highlight that.
What happens inside organizations is quite different. A final draft of something - whether that be for the Web, Intranet, piece of collateral or anything really, needs to be touched by and blessed by a cadre of people. The more the people, the more bases are covered, the more diluted the final product. Mash-up? Hardly. Perhaps a collection of best practices. Are they really better? More often than not, these communications miss one critical component - voice and opinion.
By all appearances, it would seem that the social aspect would be captured nicely with so many people touching each piece. Au contrarie! Why? The most critical aspect, the credit to the author is often missing. The company owns all materials, yet hardly any credit is given to the people who actually had the ideas that went into it. Have you ever seen a list of contributors on the back of a piece of collateral? Maybe for white papers and newsletters - and in that case to provide a way for customers to talk back to someone.
What about using the quote and piece verbatim? What about letting each team member's contribution stand on its own? Organizations are very uncomfortable doing that. Corporate social media is difficult to do. This is not to say that corporate use of social media is impossible or inherently undesirable. But, when launching social media projects, companies should understand that they are slipping a sardine into the goldfish bowl. Which is great, if you like sardines.