Selected op-ed by David Howell
To deliver unified and efficient responses across social media networks corporations must ensure their internal structures support this goal. Take a look at which global leaders will be addressing this issue at theCorporate Social Media Summit.
The delivery of a powerful and coherent message across social media networks begins with the internal structures of your corporation. Your business can’t become a master of social media without first ensuring each stakeholder across your organisation understands their role.
A well-defined ownership of social media within corporations continues to change, with a holistic approach being adopted by many to ensure all voices and stakeholders are heard and have input into social media communications.
In their last survey, the Altimeter Group concluded: “The average corporate social business program was established more than three years ago. Yet as social business efforts permeate the enterprise, those without ‘social’ in their titles often lag in understanding of the corporate social business strategy, let alone know how to use social media safely or effectively. The need for employee education on social media becomes apparent as social business programs formalize and mature.”
More than 60 percent of companies report having no program or only ad hoc social media education programs, yet when asked about their top internal objectives, developing social media education was the second most important priority for most organizations.
For many corporate users of social media, PR, marketing, communications and customer services now have a stake in how the organization leverages its presence across the social media networks. What is vitally important today is to ensure that all these departments generate a coherent message. Putting in place a management structure that ensures each department has a seat at the social media table is critical. Add to this the increasing moves to empower every employee to become a brand advocate, reveals that comprehensive planning, education, policy guidelines and policing are all key components of a corporation’s social media usage.
Social media hubs
Because social media touches on so many different aspects of a corporation’s day-to-day activity it can be difficult to manage what is a multifaceted message creation platform. For Dell, it meant mapping their entire business with the view to creating a social enterprise. Former Social Media and Community Director, Liz Brown Bullock explained their approach:
“For us, it’s key to have social integration across all areas of the business – a social business. Social media is a tool to be used across all functions: HR, sales, marketing, our product group, online, customer support to better serve our customer. We are looking at how all areas of social (listening, research, support, content, and analytics) come together to have an impact on customer experience and employee collaboration. We want to embed social media in the fabric of the company and empower our employees to use it to achieve better results for customers and our business.”
Helen Lee, Social Media Lead, Clorox also said: “We’re currently organized by what the Altimeter Group’s Jeremy Owyang calls the hub-and-spoke model. Before I joined the company three years ago, all social media was being managed and executed by our agency partners. With an ever-increasing number of platforms to engage and the pressure to act in real time, we realized that we had to own some of the responsibilities in house to make it happen.”
Most corporations are adopting the hub-and-spoke approach to managing their social media activity, as this empowers several stakeholders simultaneously.
Back to School
Embedding social media within the culture of your corporation is now essential. Governance of the rich conversations that now take place across multiple social media networks must take place. Education is the key here, with many corporations developing their own training programs to ensure all stakeholders understand how social media should be approached. With some high profile mistakes made last year by several corporations, these lessons can’t be learned quickly enough.
What may have been little more than marketing or PR exercises have now evolved into a holistic approach to social media usage and management. Organizations are rapidly becoming social businesses. As the Altimeter Group conclude: “What was previously a series of initiatives driven by marketing and PR is now evolving into a social business movement that looks to scale and integrate social across the organization. There is no one-way to become a social business. Instead, social businesses evolve through a series of stages that ultimately align social media strategies with business goals.”
Corporations need to shake off the legacy of siloed departments, as today, social media bridges all business activity. Collaboration between stakeholders is vital in order for coordinated messages to reach their intended audiences. Educating everyone within your corporation about the importance of social media and how this should be approached should be a priority. To avoid crisis, enhance brand values and develop deep advocacy, a unified approach to all social media activity is now a commercial imperative all corporations need to embrace.