Social Media in Your Company – Guidance for Where It Fits In

So you’re putting together the social media puzzle. There are many pieces, aren’t there? And one slice that continues to get questions is where the responsibility and position(s) belong in the organization. In fact, a number of months ago I wrote an article on this very topic and suggested “nowhere” in current organizations was the right place for social media. I suggested that a new organization needed to be created under the leadership of the Chief Customer Officer.

Now I realize that one size does not fit all, so I am going to provide some guidance that will help you determine what is right for your company given its current organization and culture.

And here is the most important aspect that you must recognize. Social media is not one thing – not one set of responsibilities. Social media consists of Strategy, Planning, Execution, and Measurement. Four functional responsibilities. I must stress how important this is. So many companies solely focus on execution. And execution without a strategy and a plan is doomed for failure. And yes, social media activities must be measured as well.

So the key point – think of social media as four functional responsibilities – strategy, planning, execution, and measurement. I am not saying these need to be four distinct positions. It is quite possible that an individual can cover a multiple or all of these functions. But think about the people that will assume these responsibilities, where associated leadership and management is in place to optimize activities and results, and what the appropriate interfaces need to be to ensure measurable success.

Here are suggested responsibilities for each of the four functional areas:

– Serve as the thought leader aligning social media/digital strategy with business goals and objectives
– Define social media/digital vision
– Integrate strategies into broader business objectives
– Evangelize (internal and external) for company social initiatives
– Identify new social business models, platforms, channels, and trends
– Conduct competitive analysis
– Define business model and pricing if applicable
– Define owned, earned, and paid media strategy
– Monitor trends, tools, opportunities and applications
– Identify partners

– Define scope, recommended approach, and manage execution
– Define objectives, key performance indicators (KPIs), expected results, and how activities will be measured
– Develop, coordinate and manage social media campaigns within all applicable platforms (Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc)
– Define methodological support, coaching, and training to staff
– Maintain project schedules and manage execution (could also be the responsibility in the Execution function)
– Approve all project initiatives and ensures the project supports the strategic vision
– Write project justifications and proposals, including investment requirements
– Maintain and expand a master list of key / influential contributors

– Ensure proper messaging is being published and that brand image is consistent across channels
– Manage editorial calendar consisting of content
– Engage the community – connect with customers and understand what they want to see and hear
– Build relationships with bloggers, other sites
– Drive employee participation with Social Media channels
– Post content on various platforms and generate conversation – respond
– Seek and maintain “special” relationships with influencers
– Use social listening skills and tools to monitor online conversations

– Establish metrics for each social media channel
– Oversee tracking and evaluation by providing insight and analysis for making optimizations
– Measure the impact of social media on the overall marketing efforts
– Produce weekly content production summary reports
– Proactively communicate issues, opportunities and insights to the team
– Track social media spending/budget

You can scramble the responsibilities as you see fit. I’ve merely provided guidance, but do as you see fit. The point is, start here. Make sure you and your executives recognize successful social media is much more than posting and tweeting. Make sure all these areas are getting the appropriate attention and assigned responsibilities. If you take this approach, you are ready to make rational decisions as to where social media fits within your organization.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve



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

4 responses to “Social Media in Your Company – Guidance for Where It Fits In

  1. Steve, simple yet with great depth a fantastic resource for everyone to work from and to adapt to fit their purpose.


  2. Great post and I totally agree with what you say about the different skill sets and seniorities involved. However, I would ask this: if you are going to integrate social media fully into, say, customer service, marketing & PR, HR, research/analysis or other business functions, don’t you need the heads of these business units leading on planning and their teams to be ‘doing’/executing? Isn’t it better to have a single strategic position focused on digital/social advising those heads of each function? My worry is that the social media content manager in your model would become a surrogate for customer service, research, HR and the rest when, actually that isn’t where his or her expertise lies. Or are you suggesting that your structure above could be embedded into each business unit and that they would not be dedicated social media roles?

    Thanks for a thought-provoking blog.

    • Hi Michael –

      Your question gets to the generic topic of centralization versus decentralization – which has been debated for years. I am sure there are numerous opinions whether the subject matter expertise (social) should reside in a centralized point or be pushed down to the business functions. My argument is that we need to evolve beyond business functions as we know today (customer service, marketing & PR, HR, research/analysis or other business functions) and start moving the organization to be customer centric and organize around the customer experience. Thus some business functional organizations will stay the same and some should change. Yes – I think it is better to have a single strategic position focused on digital/social advising those heads of each function. At least for now. When (and if) we get to the point where business functions have a better understand of digital (expect to see this change as generation Y is a greater part of the workforce) then maybe not. But also as generation Y becomes part of the workforce, they need to develop some traditional business skills and expertise. So I think we are talking about a 15 year evolution.

      I agree with your concerns that the social media content manager becomes a surrogate. They must be given authority (not just responsibility) by the CEO (yes that high) to change the corporate culture to be more digital – because the customers are changing that way. That is the motivation for this. Not change for change’s sake, but rather change because the customer is changing! Once again – customer centric approach. For now, I think the best organizational model is to make the digital/social group the internal agency in the corporation – but they must have authority. This will not necessarily work for all companies, but by and large and generally speaking, I think this is the best approach.

      Thanks for engaging in the conversation!

      Social Steve

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