One of the most successful approaches to becoming a social business is the creation of an internal team, led by a Senior Executive (preferably CxO), who can guide and help the corporate adoption of Social Media within the organization.
It is absolutely crucial to understand the position of Social Media within the organisation, and the impact it has on the various business functions. As Social Media is a communication tool, its’ uses vary and affect pretty much everyone in the organization:
PR/Corporate Communications; Marketing; Internal Communications; Legal; IT; Sales; Customer Service; Human Resources; Product Management/ Development
When setting up the internal team and leader, it is paramount to have a leader with a broad understanding of the various business functions and units, their focus and business objectives. Then, representatives from these business areas should form the Social Business Council, in order to facilitate the implementation of the social media strategy.
There should be two approaches within the that council, and people representing these approaches – the one saying:
“this is what I’d like to share with our community” and the other saying:
“this shouldn’t be shared, or restricted to (a certain) community”
In every congregation of people, including business entities, there are the early adopters, supporting new initiatives, and the dinosaurs (or more conservative people). When setting up a Social Media Council, I would recommend including both. The early adopters will evangelize the new programs anyway, but you’d rather let the dinosaurs have their say within the confined space of the council, than fight and convince senior level executives, to execute plans they don’t believe in.
Social Media Council members have to include people with vision, but just as important is to include people who will end up with the operational tasks.
The shortest route to any strategy disaster is to let the chiefs create it, and then dump it on the Indians for implementation. By including the “Indians” in the conversations, and really listen to their recommendations, you can almost guarantee choosing the most appropriate tools for the job, from the people who will end up using them.
Finally, the Social Media Council should articulate its’ successes, on the various fronts. They might not be the ones calculating their own ROI, however, as a new business unit they have a constant need to prove the value of their existence.
It isn’t difficult to articulate how direct connection formed on a social network lead to a large contract. Or how HR decreased recruitment-advertising costs by using a LinkedIn tool to source passive candidates. It’s also quite easy to monitor sentiment of brand conversations, and determine and show improvement levels of customer satisfaction, if these KPI’s are put in place at the beginning.
In the past few years, we’ve seen a lot of confusion within organizations , not sure who “owns” Social Media. The fact is, that as a communication tool, it’s not a matter of “ownership”, but it is rather a cross-functional tool, which impacts the organisation of every level. Having a competent leader, with a strong, cross-departmental supporting team, will determine the speed and quality of social media integration within the business.
There is an argument whether this should be a project-based approach, or a permanent resource allocation. Some people say that once Social Media is set up and running as integral part of the business policies and processes, there’s no need to keep a team. I tend to agree with this, but haven’t made up my mind in regards to the team leader. What do you think?