The Company Organization Messes Up Social Media

social media organizationWhere social media resides in the organization continues to be problematic. I have written about this issue and made suggestions in the past. But today I am writing to suggest that social does not fit into any department based on how companies are organize today. In fact this scenario hinders social media success.

Let’s start with a telling question. How many companies have a group that’s sole objective is optimizing and winning over the brand’s perceived reputation? Forget simply solving problems like most customer support organizations. Forget loyalty and lead generation as in marketing. Does any organizational group solely focus on great customer relationships and customer love? This goes beyond customer services. This is the social media marketing objective. When you take social marketing disciplines and place them in an organization that has other objectives the success and value of social gets diminished, maybe squashed.

While it is the goal of every company to generate strong revenue, different groups need to act and be motivated by other parameters beyond sales and lead generation. Sales and lead generation are certainly important, but they are short-term objectives. What about long-term objectives that drive sustainable business? Do businesses focus on this long-term sustainability anymore or are they just quarter to quarter driven. I can only think of a few companies committed to long-term success.

Consider the paramount value of social marketing – advocacy. Not only is advocacy leading social marketing outcomes, but it is also the strongest form of marketing. To have others market and suggest your product is far more effective than having the brand market the product. Different strategies and tactics must take place to spawn advocacy than the strategies and tactics to generate sales and lead generation. And yet, the residual effect of advocacy is revenue increase. The marketing group typically has lead generation and advocacy objectives. But somehow short-term objectives (lead generation) always overshadow long-term (advocacy). Thus, when social media sits in the marketing organization, the success of social is hindered because short-term objectives trump long-term objectives.

Marketing is always going to have objectives of sales and lead generation. Can marketing also be committed to post sales-conversion of loyalty and advocacy? Can the same person/group have sales/lead generation and loyalty/advocacy? The issue is that marketing has all these objectives and at the end of the day sales is what trumps all.

So when we look at social media success, understand the target audience behavior. Users are turned off by blatant sales. They want to feel comfortable with a brand. They want a great user experience. Then they will buy. So if the behavior has some precursor steps that must be accomplished in order to get to sales, should we make sure someone, some group acts in an appropriate way and gets measured on their success there?

Bottom line – marketing must change. Change is difficult and sometimes impossible at companies. If your company cannot change, then the responsibility of relationship building, customer engagement, building loyalty, building advocacy – all must be assigned to another group than your current marketing group. Change or move it somewhere, but get it done right.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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3 Comments

Filed under brand reputation, change management, social marketing, social media, social media organization, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

3 responses to “The Company Organization Messes Up Social Media

  1. As you know well, I have been increasingly vocal that social does not belong in Marketing (or, at least, should not be owned by Marketing.) Marketing is tasked with delivering acquisition, leads, inbound traffic and sales, and few CMOs could brag about their Marketing investments driving the things social is good at, such as reputation, relationships, service, advocacy, collaboration and loyalty.

    You make great points. I am not sure we can wait for a new corporate structure to emerge. Many modern organizations do have Chief Customer Officers or Chief Experience Officers, and these seem better roles to lead social than CMOs. Aside from that, I have seen social led well by Corporate Communications groups–they tend to have a wider remit than sales (and in fact, most Chief Communications Officers would balk at have their efforts held accountable in any way for sales.) Communications/PR execs–if they are hip to the changes occurring in the world–seem prepared to recognize that reputation and WOM is built through service and engagement, not paid media or organic posts measured in clicks.

    These are great topics, and I am glad to see them being raised. (I half expected to see you quote our recent conversations here!)

  2. Jim Matorin

    Steve: Is it all about organization or leadership (as in lack of)? http://ow.ly/zV9ot

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