Should you have a social media department? | Corporate blogging news digest

Should you ensconce all your social media buffs into one team? Geoff Livingston wrote a great post against this siloization (is that a real word?) claiming that social media can touch every part of the organization and so doesn’t deserve to be hived off in a special unit (normally within marketing or communications).

He makes the point that for social media to be effective, it needs to be integrated with the organization. It’s about two-way communication between a company and its constituents, and everyone can have a role to play.

Whilst I broadly agree with the underlying message, I see strategic advantages in consolidating social media skills within a central function.

This is particularly true when considering those parts of the organization that are most affected by emerging communications technologies. Marketing is one department: gone are the days of broadcasting messages at the target audience. These days marketing has a strong role to play in obtaining feedback from prospects and customers, and where necessary picking up external threads and championing these within the organization. The customer support team is another example: social media can help them get closer to their constituency and interact in ways previously not possible. This isn’t to say these functions should remain siloed. As an example, if marketing (through its social media monitoring) see a Tweet from a prospect asking a technical question, they may need to engage a product expert to frame a response.

Another key role for a social media team is to act as expert facilitators. Although they may not run every campaign, they can still have valuable input (for instance advising on etiquette on a network like Twitter). In many respects, this is what is happening in PR. Whether it be through blog posts, forum threads or a discussion on LinkedIn, more people within the organization are becoming communicators on behalf of the company they represent. Does that mean we don’t need PR? No, on the contrary, we need professional communicators who can guide and coach employees who are unwittingly becoming company spokespeople.

A centralized social media team can also ensure that best practice is isolated and transmitted. Whether this means letting a blogger know that their post received more visitors than any other, or finding out how one product team managed to build engaging discussions on LinkedIn, there is value in pulling this activity together. A social media manager can help motivate disparate teams and ensure good practice moves rapidly through the organization. They can also be the ones that sell the story at the executive level and build a case for more involvement in this area.

So, my vote goes strongly in favor of setting up a social media department, albeit one that is open to the whole organization and doesn’t just focus on its own projects.

News highlights

Twitter Is Not a Strategy (The Exception Magazine)
To steal the punchline: it’s a tool. You need a strategy on how you use a tool like Twitter. Simple stuff, but how often do we confuse this?

Corporate Blogging and Sled Talk with Chris Reid of Yamaha
Yamaha’s perspective on the touchy subject of using an external agency to run a corporate blog.

Social Media Marketing Industry Report (880 marketers surveyed)
A survey of almost 900 marketers on their opinions on social media and what it means for them in practice. Twitter crops up time and time again. Traffic increases for as little effort as 6 hours a week.

Twitter FAQ: RT, HT, OH Explained (Brent Ozar)
If your new to Twitter, this is a great introduction on some of the abbreviations used to keep messages under 140 characters. Other random facts like the artist who designed the Fail Whale.

Twitter and Facebook Post Huge Growth Numbers in March
Twitter grows 77% in a month; Facebook 23.4%. The adoption by mainstream media is cited as a contributing factor. Follow-up story:
Compete: Twitter surpasses New York Times in audience
When thinking about PR and who are key influencers, should you take these stats into account? Given that this community is still growing at 1202% per annum, how soon before mainstream news sites become irrelevant?

Businesses divided over the value of blogging (Business Applications Blog)
Although businesses see bloggers as an important and influential audience, 63% of tech companies do not blog, according to a study by Eurocom Worldwide and Simpson Financial and Technology PR (it’s not clear, but I think this is a European study). The time required for these initiatives is a major factor, coupled with the lack of perceivable value.

Tweetdeck blog allows you to post comments to blog and Twitter simultaneously
Is this feature set to grow? Makes sense to me.

Is Twitter Killing RSS? (Venture Chronicles)
You should really put your blog content onto Twitter. Or so the argument goes…

Why Bit.ly Will Upstage Digg
Tracking links from Twitter will become a bigger deal for online marketers. Services like bit.ly could be at the forefront of this.

What An Executive Blog Editor Needs to Know (Chris Brogan)
Chris Brogan proposes you think of business value when it comes to content creation:
‘[Blogging] can be built around solid business intentions, such as content marketing (writing posts that are intended to deliver action, or at least actionable information), thought leadership (ideal for consulting opportunities), or even media sales model (typical “write good stuff and put ads against it” thinking).’

Top 20 Ways to Share a Great Blog Post
It’s one thing writing great content, but you also need to get out there and peddle it (although funny that this article comes from Mashable: one of the few blogs with such massive natural readership it has little peddling to worry about).

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2 thoughts on “Should you have a social media department? | Corporate blogging news digest”

  1. It makes sense to have a Social Media Manager / Expert within the company, for all the reasons you just listed! This is something I’ve been thinking about for sometime now, and I really believe in the benefits of using social media networking as a marketing tool, but it does need to be controlled.

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