The Social Organization That’s Right for Your Business

The most successful social media marketing executions have one thing in common. Each business has an internal plan to coordinate its efforts to address customer questions, communicate to consumers and steward the brand’s social media presence.

Successfully executing social media in a silo without internal support is a thing of the past. Everyone needs to be on the same page. Leaders need to be brought in, and various departments like HR, IT and legal need to onboard before engaging, not after. All of this is in an effort to ensure social media benefits the organization as a whole and to prevent moving forward in the social space only to find out you need to move backward once you’ve gotten started.

Approach Based on Strategy

A September report from Bain and Company identified three approaches to coordinate social media efforts across an organization.

The first approach Bain calls Command and Control, and this is management at its most basic level with a single entity responsible for all social media engagement. This team may bring other departments into the fold in an advisory role, but ultimately, they are responsible for all communications.

The benefit here is certainly more control, while the potential challenge is making this team’s efforts extend across the organization because it is in the hands of a central team. This would likely be the ideal approach for a company used to traditional marketing and is new the social space. Start here then mature into an Empowered Units or Decentralized approach.

The second is called Empowered Units.  This approach includes a cross-functional team with a head organization responsible for integration, strategic direction and measurement. While each group has the freedom to deploy social initiatives, they are responsible with sharing their findings and approach with the whole team.

The Empowered Units approach is ideal for companies who want to showcase expertise across the organization. For example, it might be wise to empower technical support to provide guidance to online customers, while a marketing team is responsible for branded communications, while all groups report to a social media department. This approach offers limited control but potentially more empowered employees and diverse online conversation.

The third, I would argue, is potentially the most risky but also the approach with the most potential to truly transform an organization and get all employees engaged with the idea of connecting with consumers, and it is called the Decentralized approach. This includes a small team who works with all or a large number of employees who interact with consumers online independently.

This approach provides the most potential to scale a business’ social media efforts and create a more consumer-centric culture across the organization, but it comes at the risk of losing control. This is why it’s incredibly important to align internally beforehand, get employees on the same page and explain their roles, responsibilities and guidelines for representing the brand in the social space.

No Right Approach

All of the above approaches can be incredibly effective, and the right one depends upon a business’ strategic objectives, comfort level, investment and resources. The critical part is aligning on how the organization will approach social media organization before engagement begins. Get the right people on board, informed and briefed on what their roles and responsibilities will be. This will make life much easier in the future.