I am heartened that I've received some comments and thoughtful questions that indicate I am not alone in thinking the time has come to establish social media departments in the enterprise.
This follow up post offers a few thoughts on just what this department would--and would not--do. And I need to start with a disclaimer. I do not think this new department should own social media in the enterprise. That is as bad an idea as one department owning email and deciding how it should be used, or the telephone and so on. Social media encompasses a set of tools that improve communications by making them interactive and by decentralizing who can speak for the enterprise.
Why am I pushing this? It seems to me that recent recession has caused most enterprise thinkers to recalibrate what their organization can and should look like as recovery becomes more real. We seem to be pretty much at a turning point. The smart business thinker realizes that it would be unwise to just go back to the way it was before the bottom started falling out.
It is now time to evaluate what works with te greatest efficiency and effectiveness and in a great many cases, the answer is social media worked and traditional marketing did not.
But the issue is what to do about it. And the answer is to make a few adjustments to allow social media to take its rightful place on the org chart. It cannot reach it's full potential by remaining some sort of ad hoc, penniless orphan constantly scurrying for resources.
My answer to tat is now is the time to create a social media department [SMD]. Here are some of ways I see them functioning:
- The SMD should be the center of expertise in social media just like IT is allegedly the center of expertise in enterprise technology. They should be paid and entrusted to explore the possibilities of social media. They should attend conferences and events where they can learn and share ideas and information on social media. Its team members should explore the guidelines by which social media should be used in their organizations.
- They should incubate new ways to use social media and educate other enterprise community members on smart--an lame-ways to use social media. In fact,SMDs should be charged with training, informing and advising other departments including marketing, support, product development, investor relations and corporate communications on how to use social media wisely. It should have a help desk for the enterprise and ints infrastructure.
- SMDs should become experts on how to measure social media programs. Many enterprise experts now understand that ROI, followers and visitors are not always the most valuable measurements to a social media program. But the SMD should help companies think through just what a social media enterprise is intended to achieve and how to best evaluate it for better or worse.
- Structurally, the SMD should be equal to the marketing department. It should report to the same level. It will have its own budget and will be accountable for the money it spends. It should run some of the showcase social media programs, because it's team members should be the most expert on the subject in the enterprise. But it will not be in command or control f other programs by other departments. Instead it will be an expert resource for refining and improving those departments.