If you accept that your company needs to be involved in social media—as most marketers do—then it’s important to figure out where social media fits within your organization.
Tempting as it might be to compartmentalize social media, most companies find that it gets assimilated into various functional teams, including marketing and communications, sales, customer service, human resources, IT and executive management. Firms from Ford Motor Co. to Dunkin’ Donuts to Hewlett-Packard describe social media as a cross-organizational discipline that touches a wide range of functions.
Best Buy, for example, encouraged hundreds of employees to engage with customers who have questions about the company and its products through Twitter. Dubbed Twelpforce, the feed not only deals with customer service issues that arise through social media, but also functions as marketing vehicle, resulting in tweets like this:
While some businesses, like Best Buy or HP, have attempted to integrate social media across the organization, that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be a dedicated social media department, or at least an individual in charge of the company’s overall social presence. This is essential, particularly at larger companies with complex structures. This person or team needs to work closely with other departments that participate in the social media effort. Promotion and customer service on Twitter is good, but disseminating information learned from Twitter across the organization to drive results is better. See this recent article from our newsletter for more on measuring ROI on social efforts.
In my recently published report, “Where Does Social Media Fit Within an Organization?,” I discuss in detail how different companies have weaved social media into the corporate fabric and demonstrated success at a variety of levels. A key takeaway:
More and more opportunities will present themselves for companies to use social channels to increase their business. The landscape will change rapidly, so tactics that might have seemed irrelevant in 2009 might be on the table in 2010 or 2011. Stay tuned as social channels evolve and be creative in how they are used within an organization.