Whilst most companies now have understood that a Facebook page can be useful, few have yet understood the bigger picture of how today’s social web and social savvy customers fundamentally are changing the business landscape they operate in. Even fewer companies have taken measures to make their organisations competitive on the social web, measures extending further than having just a social media presence.
We are now in the 8th year of Facebook’s existence and in the 6th of Twitter’s, blogs and forums have been around much longer than that. In fact, practically every part of the web today includes some social elements catering for users to create and share their own content.
By now, most of us have heard about the classical Dirty Domino’s Pizza (2009) and Dell Hell (2005). We’ve seen Greenpeace forcing fashion companies to detox. Nike, H&M, and Zara have already been forced to commit to the demands of Greenpeace.
I could go on and list companies that have been victims of people using Social Media to force companies into changing. Dell started talking to bloggers, Domino’s Pizza changed their Pizza recipe and fashion companies need to change the way the manufacture their goods.
Even if your company has not been, or ever will be, exposed to such extrem examples as above, you probably haven’t identified the opportunities Social Media tools & technologies can bring to your organisation in ordet to give you a competitive advantage.
Why a Social Media department won’t function in the long run
In most companies I’ve come across the Social Media function is sitting under Marketing, sometimes even deeper into the Marketing organisation such as directly reporting in to PR or Advertising.
The problem is not that Social Media sits under Marketing, the problem is that Social Media ONLY sits under Marketing and nowhere else (Fig.1).
Obviously the activities such Social Media department will undertake are such that corresponds to what the Marketing department is being evaluated on. The result is often pretty dull, what happens is that you have a Facebook page and Twitter feed nicely branded in your corporate colours and a lot of status updates talking about how great and good you are and what new offers you have. Advertising in other words.
The result of the above is rarely very good and pretty soon your Social Media function will start to realize that sitting under the Marketing department isn’t all that great. Typical examples of what could happen:
- There are customer complaints on your Facebook wall
- People are talking about your products on forums
- No one are re-tweeting your tweets
- HR have setup their own Facebook page with out your knowledge
- Employees are posting stuff on Facebook that they shouldn’t, that could even be considered as trade secrets
- IT shuts down the use of Social networks on the company network and won’t approve the use of your cloud apps such as Hootsuite
- Customers are tweeting you about campaigns you have never heard about
I could make the list even longer and you could also turn the question around and ask the other departments on how they are affected by Social Media.
The smart Social Media Manager will try to replicate some of the tasks done in other departments (Fig 2.). Most often this will include some Customer service, content production, sourcing product feedback in the organisation etc. You could of course say that this is normal duties of a Social Media Manager (or Community Manager), but do you really want to end up with a silo in the organisation trying to replicate what the organisation already have support for?
In the long run, isolating Social Media to one department isn’t a solution that will give you a competitive edge on the social web.
Understand how Social Media can help your business at large, then install these functions throughout your organisation
I’ve witten about the 5 key areas to Social Media in this blog post which are developed by Charlene Li and Josh Bernhoff at Forrester research. To date, this is the best framework I’ve seen for describing what Social Media really means for companies.
These 5 key areas (Listen, talk, support, energize and embrace) are not just marketing related, they are applicable to any business unit in your company (Fig 3.).
Here are a few examples:
- PR department talks to your customers via Youtube (See how we did it at Expekt.com here)
- Customer Service listen and support customers and prospects in social channels as well as sourcing product feedback to relevant department (Read about how we did it at Betclic.fr here)
- HR uses tools such as Jobvite and source candidates via LinkedIn
- CRM develops website features together with IT to enable website visitors sharing their positive experiences
- Product Management together with Customer Service can use tools such as Uservoice or Getsatisfaction to embrace and crowd source feedback
- HR and Legal distributes internal employee Social Media guidelines
- …and here are even more examples.
Create a Social Media task force in order to implement Social Media throughout the organisation
So how do you get all this stuff implemented in the organisation? Change doesn’t happen over night but takes time, hard work and patience.
To embark on a company wide Social Media program it’s essential to get the support of the CEO as you will need people to change the way they work and maybe allocate budgets differently.
You Social Media department should grow into a Social Media task force.
But before you can start implementing things you need to identify what to implement. Start small by inviting a key stake holder from departments throughout the organisation. Meet and discuss how the 5 key areas can help each department in their job, find ways of collaborating with other departments on certain tasks. Slowly grow the Social Media task force to involve all the key stake holders you need inorder to fully implement your program (Fig 4.).
In the driver seat of the Social Media task force sits a Program Manager, maybe that is your former Social Media Manager or maybe it is someone better dedicated at driving a change management program internally.
The job of the task force is to identify what should be done, it’s then the job of the departments to execute and report back to the task force on the progress.
The task force should help department enable the activities, it needs to be an expert in Social Media vendors, measurement, budget allocation, researching and teaching. Its sole aim is to enable the organisation to be competitive on the social web. (Fig 5.)
How is Social Media being organised in your company? Are you implementing Social Media throughout the organisation or are you just treating it as a Marketing function? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!