Customer Service, Marketing, Public Relations & Communications, IT or perhaps an outsourced agency are all options a company can consider when making the decision who should oversee, implement and measure the company’s social media strategy. While there are many schools of thoughts and a most recent survey by The Creative Group (TCG) suggests more companies prefer to have the Public Relations & Communications team handle the efforts, there’s a lot more than the court of common opinion to consider when deciding to launch social media efforts.
The recent survey asked “Who should be responsible for corporate social media activities?” The survey found that more than half (51 percent) of respondents said public relations/communications should be responsible, up 39% over their 2013 survey. As a social media strategist, I find this rather curious. When you understand that Public Relations and Communications departments are about controlling the message, pushing out the message and making sure the message is in line with the corporate theme, your realize that it’s at odds with what social media users want. People in social media want real engagement and more often than not they want to be part of the discussion around the message, not just have the message pushed out to them.
Research Your Social Media Audience First
Consider first another approach before falling into the trap of following what “other” companies are doing or even what you competition may be doing. Stop and have your team conduct research or do an audit of the conversations in the current social media arenas you want to engage in.
You could find that your social media channels are being utilized more as a customer service channel than promoting your message, latest promotion or blog post. In this case, where the audience is looking for direct interaction to help them, would it make sense to put the Social Media Engagement in the hands of the Public Relations team? Not likely. When social media is used as a customer service channel, customer service should be the lead engagement specialists.
That’s not to say the PR, Marketing, or even the C-Suite shouldn’t be involved. They should. Marketing & PR will want to make sure that messaging is consistent and the customer service is also working to promote other opportunities for engagement with the customer they are interacting with. A great social media engagement strategy realizes and incorporates the strengths of teams across the company to enhance and further the strategy successfully.
Understand Your Goals for Social Media Engagement
There are all different types of KPIs a company engaging in social media can consider, it all depends on what your end goal is. Is it to get new leads? Is it to lessen the amount of time customer service representatives spend on the phone line with customers? Is it to change a negative perception? If you notice, the three examples I just mention, are all measure in different ways, thus different KPIs. Along with that, knowing what the goal is, could affect who should have the greatest influence over your social media strategy.
If your goal is to get the new leads, then perhaps consider marketing to lead the efforts, to change negative perception, then your public relations team is the master there. If you are looking to bring down costs of operating your customer service department through engagement social media channels, consider a small team from that area of your company having significant input and guidance.
Social Media Like Your Business Needs, Changes
Just as changes in the markets affect your business that those changes affect your business needs and your goals. Along with that, technology is a constant disruptor, especially when it comes to social media. New social media platforms pop up every month, which can also affect your team’s ability to engage in social media. Being nimble and having the ability to recognize these changes can have resounding affects on your strategy. If technologies don’t change and adapt to how their members are utilizing them, they become irrelevant – just look at MySpace and Digg.
That is not to say you should jump on every new social media technology that makes headlines in the media, it’s to say, be wise and do your research!
Consider a Cross Functional Solution Team
For many companies, it’s not as cut and dry as defining one goal. There are many aspects to a business and how it engages its current clients and hopes to obtain new ones. For some companies there’s also the component of “regulatory” that has to be factored in, where in whatever the team wants to do, some sort of compliance or legal review is necessary. That’s when understanding the strengths and weakness of your company come into play. It might be good to have the social media team sit under one area, but be comprised of members from different areas of your company.
Think of a major airline, as an example. Social media might just be better managed sitting under the marketing department, but have team members from customer service who handle ticketing, lost bag, flight changes to hand the customer service channels on Twitter and Facebook. Along with that team members from content marketing that promote content in their blogs, and airline magazines. Add in the public relations teams that want to promote the latest great customer service results and the sales team who promotes business sales, you can see, one ‘area’ of the company couldn’t handle all of that – they aren’t skilled in all the areas of engagement that are possible.
There’s no one cookie cutter solution when it comes to social media marketing, so while surveys say this, and other say that …. understand your own bottom line first when you are considering building your own social media team!