I can't comment on countries other than my own, but it's pretty clear that America is terrible at infrastructure. Roads, bridges, rails and networks - all are pushed well past their limits on a regular basis and, sadly, often left to limp along until a crisis forces a patch.
American businesses are no different. Networks, servers, customer service, research, development all take massive hits in the name of cost savings. The functions that support a business are the first things to go in a time of crisis and the last to feel the ripples of a windfall. No one bothers to upgrade the network until the old one is gasping its last breath.
You may wonder what this has to do with Social Media - after all, you (or your client) probably thinks that Social Media is lumped under Marketing and you already have a budget for that. Social Media is not a piece of your Marketing, Marketing is a piece of Social Media.
Social Media is part of your infrastructure.
The information you gather is crucial to your business. The better your information, the better your decisions are. Do you read trade journals, blogs, news, competitor's sites? If you took these away, what would be left for you to base your decisions on?
Social Media is a critical tool in your information gathering and disseminating toolbox. You can use Social Media to keep abreast of your industry and your competitors. Most importantly - you can keep in touch with your customer base. In real time. With authenticity.
Social Media is your people network - people you know and want to know and maybe could use help from. Social Media is your information server - a repository of things you need to know to make critical business decisions, and the way those decisions get out to people who need to hear them.
Social Media is your superhighway tying you to every customer, every client you've ever had - and every one of their clients and customers.
When you start building your company's Social Media infrastructure take a few basics into account: What will you talk about; Where will you talk about it; How Long can you give it; Why should anyone care? Plan for growth because you're going to have more people, more customers and more communications coming in and out...more cars on the highways, not less.
Don't wait for a crucial bridge to collapse - the time to update your Social Media infrastructure is now.