February 24, 2012

Shaping up for Social Corporate Engagement

In a previous post, I defended the idea that the use of social media by organizations to discuss corporate topics may be on the rise. Immediately after this, co-authoer Roxanne Varza described how 3 new social media platforms could be leveraged in your communications strategy.

Which is all well and fine, but we regularly hear the cries of overburdened PR and marketing managers : “how do we keep up with it all?”

Empower Me, Boss!

One of the secrets, probably the most important secret, is to learn to empower others to do so for you. The reality of social media is that your employees probably use – and know – them better than most managers in the company. Face it.

How to empower, train, guide and organize employees from various departments and business units in your organization is the topic of our soon-to-be-released white paper “Is There a PR Pilot In Your Social Plane?”, which also deals with measuring results from this engagement. If you’d like to receive this, just drop us a line on our contact form.

Get in Shape

Web Strategy expert Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter group has also conducted surveys of organizations to find out how they structure their social media teams and made some suggestions towards facing the task proactively rather than becoming a “social media help-desk”.

A chart by Altimeter Group shows how social media teams are structured in large coporatiions

Structure of the Social Media Team. (c) Altimeter Group

In Strategy: Five Steps to Achieve ‘Escape Velocity’ –and Finally Stay out of the Social Media ‘Help Desk’, he gives the following recommendations to stay ahead of the game and plan long-term rather than spend your days in a short-term reactive mode that lowers your value drastically :

  1. Be proactive. Provide business units and services with what they need before they ask.
  2. Adopt a hub and spoke structure. Do not centralise everything or you will not cope.
  3. Enable others. Relinquish control and teach. This is one of the focuses of our white paper.
  4. Deploy scalable technology. Monitoring and sharing are part of this.
  5. Deploy programs beyond marketing. Again, a central focus of our white paper.

And in Data: Composition of a corporate social media team, he gives very interesting insight into how teams are currently organised in large corporations (click above picture to access the article).

Interestingly, Altimeter predict that corporate social media strategists will work themselves out of a job (because they will have empowered other teams to operate their own programs) but that “a core team will always be required to coordinate the enterprise”. Hear! Hear!

What I personally disagree with is the concluding statement that “this will evolve into a customer experience team (or back into the CX team)”. Borrowing again from their increasingly rich repository of reports and surveys, here is a prediction of annual occurrences of social media crises.

A graph describing the rising number of annual social media crises in large organzations

Annual Social Media crises. (c) Altimeter Group.

I strongly believe that customer experience teams will react to short-term hiccups in near real-time. But with reputation management now a number 1 on fast growing companies’ top social media priorities, coordination will both be more and more important and will absolutely need to include input from the PR and reputation management team.

Again, I ask “Is there a PR Pilot in your Social Media plane?” What do you think ?

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