Here at Sametz Blackstone, we’re big fans of The Community Roundtable: a network for community managers — and anyone else working in the social business field (a growing area, to say the least.)

“The CR” (the common shorthand for their name) provides information, collaborative events, and a sort of ongoing “digital support group” for people who are taking part in online conversations on behalf of an organization.They face a unique set of challenges — and the CR has responded with a unique set of solutions and resources.

Rachel Happe founded the The CR with Jim Storer, and they both bring a wealth of marketing and social media expertise to the table. This is evident in a recent piece Rachel wrote for Information Week: “The Third Leg of the Social Business Stool: Technology”. Here’s an excerpt:

“Social technology is everywhere, and often it’s the place where companies start because it’s the most obvious new element, particularly for interacting with external audiences. Businesses see most of their customers using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking channels, so building a presence there seems to make obvious sense. However, adopting the technology starts a company down the slippery slope of social business when that may not be its intent, so it’s unprepared for the risks.

Marketing departments, for instance, will start a Twitter or Facebook page to reach more customers directly, but in the process they’re setting the expectation that they’re speaking and listening. Most organizations don’t have the processes and governance in place to effectively listen and respond to individual consumers in meaningful ways. As a result, crises can emerge.”

As more and more social media firms rise up to promise big things to organizations, and social media conferences haul in millions every year preaching the value of social tools and platforms and “being a part of the conversation”, and more and more companies fear that they’ll be left behind if they don’t “get a Twitter and a Facebook.”

That’s why I’m so pleased when someone who works actively in social business advocates for building a presence only after you’ve taken the time to learn:

  • What’s already being said about you out there, so you know where you stand from the beginning
  • How your target market is actually using social tools and networks — so you can follow suit with your tone and your topics
  • The resources you actually have on hand to tackle social media involvement
  • Security and data risks unique to your industry
  • The use cases within your organization that correlate with key social tools

Some of the biggest brands out there have found themselves in hot water after diving into social because they didn’t want to be left behind.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that you should minimize the importance of social as a part of your integrated marketing plan, of course. But remember: the cost of looking foolish is considerably greater than the cost of staying silent until you’ve got the right thing to say.

Read the whole article here.