One of the continuous discussions and questions surfacing in the social media chatterbox is that of “who owns social media?” Is it marketing? Public relations (PR)? Customer service?
The answer is . . . yes. For the long-term, anyway.
You’re not likely at the point yet where you have social media wired into everything. Right now, you may just be trying to figure out where to get started and deciding who is responsible for managing it and accountable for the results that grow from it. That’s perfectly okay, and it’s where a lot of organizations begin.
As social media adoption expands in an organization, however, you need a model that’s scalable and provides some autonomy within other functions and units but that maintains some central coordination for the purposes of consistency and clear communication. For that, let’s look to the football field for inspiration.
The Coaching Staff
The coaches are an organized, recognized group that acts as the hub for all things social media within a company. It can be small, with just a few people, or larger, with broad representation from a number of areas. If there’s already a dedicated social media team in your company, they often form the core of this group and are deeply active participants and advisors.
Coaches are responsible for making things happen in their own areas of the business, such as customer service, marketing, or product management. Each department might have one or two coaches who are represented as part of the larger group. Coaches take knowledge and consensus from the group regarding overall social media strategy and apply this information to the day-to-day functions of their team. They also bring back challenges, information, and successes to share with the other members of the coaching staff so that everyone can learn from one another.
They might work on:
Leadership: Championing social media strategies to management and throughout the organization to encourage participation
Intent: Laying out the underlying tenets and purposes for social media participation as an organization
Guidance: Developing social media participation guidelines – not just rules and regulations – that everyone can adopt and get behind
Best Practices: Be the center for subject matter expertise around the world of social media
Coordination: Keeping of the messy bits of internal communication and coordination around social media implementation
The players are the social media in action throughout the organization. Although the coaching staff is the center for overall social media approach, each coach works with his players to develop goals, strategy, and success metrics for their area of the business. The players are made up of the front line listening and response teams that actively mine social media for information, and they are the ones who act on what they find.
Information gatherers form your centralized listening centers, monitoring the social web and mining it for relevant information, and they make sure that information gets to the people that need it. They might interact on behalf of the company as well, but their chief responsibility is to locate information for others to act. These players are early warning systems, researchers, and the information filters of corporate social media.
Frontline responders will be the faces of your company. They are the ones who work in a public light to either react to the needs and demands of your online community or provide a public-facing persona and presence for your brand. They conduct the proactive engagement and participation online to connect with customers, prospects, and the community as a whole. Social media and community management professionals are frontline responders, as are your communication teams and your customer service teams.
Everyone in your company is affected by the speed and scale of social media, even if some corners are affected in a nonpublic way. These are the members of the booth—social media stakeholders whose participation may not be daily but is no less important.
Your writers and creative types might be part of the booth and build communication strategy. Human resources can focus social media efforts externally for employee recruitment or internally for talent retention. Research and development and product management capture insights from customers or the competition. Legal and compliance can focus on managing risk while adapting to an environment with less control. Analysts can derive actionable insights from data and feed those back to teams, and even IT can evolve their operations to support more fluid internal communication networks.
What ties all of these people together is the unifying work of the coaching staff. Departments take the strategic cues from the coaches and apply them downstream to their teams. They build independent, autonomous strategies that integrate with the larger whole, providing a networked but nimble approach to social coordination that can work for any company of any size.
The increasing speed of business calls for a distribution of decision making and authority throughout an organization to make us quicker, more nimble, and more responsive to the demands of immediacy. We need teams that communicate faster, with more fluidity and less friction. And to do that, we simply have to shatter the bottlenecks of process and control that have historically created a sense of security and consistency.
It’s time to organize our people and communications in a way that allows the elephant to dance much lighter on its feet.
This is the third in a 7-week blog post series covering themes included in The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social - my new book with Amber Naslund, debuting February 1 (pre-orders and first chapter for free available now).