There are several challenges, namely:
1. Many organizations do not have anyone focused on social media.
2. People within an organization may be using social media but in an unofficial way off the side of their desk, meaning there's no corporate-wide strategy or voice. If that person answers questions on whichever social network but is gone on vacation for a week, there's a gap in response and a loss of momentum.
3. Companies not currently budgeting for social media don't know how much to allocate in terms of employee(s)' time. Asking an employee to spend 2 hrs per week may be a big increase relative to what the firm had been doing, but that's a drop in the ocean. The result: few tangible results over the course of 2 hrs per week, and the organization drops the initiative after a month.
4. The need to establish and meet short-term goals. It's difficult to generate a following or traction quickly on social media. It takes time and patience -- which is a tough sell these days. Whereas placing an ad can be quick and offers understandable metrics.
5. The people in charge of budgets and priorities may not be familiar or comfortable with social media. Most of the quizzes on Facebook seem to be time-wasters so why should an organization get online to find out what TV shows your friends like?
That said, every new client we talk to now asks us about social media, our experience, and the experience of other clients. But many still relegate social networking as a nice to-do, not a must-be done.
Marc Hausman posted an interesting blog on the topic, "Corporate Budgets Must Reflect the Shift in Influence," with some good statistics. I agree with him, but feel that the above items means that PR agencies and internal PR functions will need to make the case for embracing social more compelling.