Where Social Media Fits in Your Organization

It is true for all my articles, but I’ll explicitly state it here … the views and opinions expressed within are solely mine and have no relationship to my employer. That said, let’s carry on …

Last week, I declared there was no longer a question of “should we do socials media.” If you are out of the cave, you’ve moved on and are past the debate. I discussed “How?” But now onto the next burning question – “where?” Everyone (I haven’t found any exceptions, yet) is puzzled by the question – “where should the social media leader/team fit within the company organization?” And there is a very simple answer – NOWHERE.

“Nowhere – what are you talking about Social Steve,” I’m asked. That’s right – nowhere. Today, the organizational structure of companies is flawed. They are not set up to maximize the potential and power of the new groundbreaking winning social implementations.

Before I explain the resolution, let me take you back 20 years or so and we can learn something very important. There was a day when there were no computers. (I am not a millennial, I remember.) Computers become one of the most important “tools” for businesses. A bit later, the role of the CIO (Chief Information Officer) was created. For a long period of time, this was filled by a strong technologist that could ensure the computer system remained up and running. But after more than a decade (at least), CEOs began to realize that technology and business needed to be aligned and that technology needs to drive business as opposed to supporting business in order for companies to command leadership in their industries.

Fast forward to 2010. NOW, we need to align THE CUSTOMER (potential and existing) with business. The customer, not the company, needs to be the focus. We need to structure corporate organizations around the customer. We need to focus on winning solutions that have direct ramifications on the customer experience.

Social media is equally as influential today to business success as the computer introduction into business was some 30 years ago or so before. Are we going to wait 10 years to determine the appropriate organizational structure around social media or learn from the past? It took at least 10 years to realize that a CIO was a hybrid technology/business responsibility. Social media is an even wider hybrid. When you think of the customer experience relative to social media, you realize SM includes marketing (branding, lead generation, PR and communication, product management/marketing), customer service, and operations.

So are you going to pigeon hole social media in one area or are you going to morph the organization to maximize the customer experience and leverage the strength and knowledge of an experienced social leader. The emergence, growth, and potential of social media has redefined how businesses interact and influence their target market. Thus, the corporate structure must be changed to reflect the business environment change.

Introducing the new corporate position – CCO (Chief Customer Officer). This position is responsible for the entire customer experience through the complete lifecycle from awareness to consideration to purchase to ongoing support. If we think from this customer-experience perspective, we will build successful business models and structures. The CCO should use social media as their major support system. He/she should have a solid background working with customers in many (if not all) the areas defined above – marketing (branding, lead generation, PR and communication, product management/marketing), customer service, and operations.

I do not suggest this change will be easy. Change of any kind is tough and organizational change is one of the toughest. But let me ask you something – how bad do you want your company to be a great company – a company that is loved by their customers – a company that constantly displays innovation and leadership in their industry, a company that operates efficiently and reacts with lightning speed as required by our digitally connected world? Got the chutzpah to “make it happen”?

Let the Fun Begin,
Social Steve

PS Okay – so maybe the Chief Customer Officer is not a new position. There are some companies that have one. But are they utilizing their most powerful tool for engaging with customers?



Filed under change management, company organization, social media, social media organization, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

7 responses to “Where Social Media Fits in Your Organization

  1. Dear Steve, I am just starting up the hill of getting my products off the ground, and using your model of a CCO will be beneficial to my marketing plan. Thank you for your information. Paris

  2. mic adam

    I completely agree with the fact that social media does not belong in a specific division. The Social Media Office (call it CCO) is an overarching function that should report into the CEO and not any other division manager.

  3. Hi, Steve.
    Nice post. Without doubt, the pace of change has increased to a point that a lot of organizations simply cannot keep up, particularly those with entrenched models that have served them well in the past. When I think about the pace of innovation required today, it feels like Moore’s Law applied to the management suite. That’s why many of the best examples of social CRM come from nimble web-native start ups. Less fear, heck, maybe just less to lose. That said, going forward all customers will expect engagement from product creation, through delivery, and well into use. Companies that fail to grasp the social imperative will be left behind. With so many companies, structure is the last thing they need to obsess about; they need to go back to the start and think about the importance of focusing on genuine relationships with customers and then building up from there.

    • Michelle – good input. I especially like your line, “When I think about the pace of innovation required today, it feels like Moore’s Law applied to the management suite.” Will certainly use this quote.

      Social Steve

  4. Insightful as ever Steve, it also gets back to those who think its marketing or pr and its neither. If it were it would just be another message that didn’t need to be answered.

    But if its within a customer service area then it links to the ever important engagement that is necessary for it to be social.

    I know it works – when you forget the money aspect and just try to help people whether they are customers, clients or fans to develop the service provided. I have been helping artists for over 25 years whether showing work, performing or helping others to do the same. I always used the same methods and NOW they are the methods everyone uses linked to social media.

    Genuine, authentic and informative. My favourite is people always liked me when I helped them and now everyone understand liking a little more. we all know why.

    Thanks Mark

  5. fred tietze

    Social Steve! Well said – orgs do need to continue evolving and speed to that change would be nice. Alas, change is slow. SM is that thread for truely Integrated marketing.

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