Since you brought up previous technologies, Dave, I’ll suggest this maxim: a new medium becomes integrated into common business practice when the cost to manage it exceeds the cost to use it.
So, telephones, fax machines, photo copiers, and word processors were all, in their day, newfangled technologies, governed by meanspirited guardians who needed special training to use them. The cost to use the technology was enormous, and that cost correlated with the perceived awesomeness of the technology. Over time, the cost to use each technology dropped and thus it became prohibitively expensive to prohibitively manage that technology. That’s how we go from one Photocopier Technician per office, to everybody making their own copies. This pattern can be applied to everything from cars to coffeemakers.
The trick, here, is that we’re talking about the cost of use, not the expense. Social media is not expensive to use right now. Each tweet costs much less than each press release in dollars. But what frightens or awes managers (the two terms are contextually related) is that the potential costs of each tweet are INCALCULABLE… and therefore huge.
What happens if a citizen retweets it? What happens if an employee responds!? What happens if Jon Stewart makes fun of it on TV!?!?
These costs are so massive that we cannot even give them a dollar figure. And so, whatever it costs to train and endow a Social Media Specialist, it’s cheaper than the cost of a tweet.
TL:DR It’ll change once we realize you can’t do any more damage with a tweet than you can with an email or a phone call.