There is still a lot of debate who should be in charge of Social Media. I believe no department should be “in charge”, unless it’s a department run by the CSBO, the Chief Social Business Officer.
Let’s not beat around the bush. Social Media is not a fad, not a trend, not a fleeting gimmick and it’s not a bubble. Granted, some platforms may come and go, money will be made and money will be lost, Digg and MySpace are good examples, both are still alive though.
Ignoring Social as a company can be a fatal mistake. Unless you operate in a vacuum or are a true monopolist in a strict B2B market, then maybe you can ignore it. But, anybody else, simply cannot.
It never rains, but it pours
When Formula1 is racing, and the rain comes, the teams have to change to rain tyres. You can gamble on the weather clearing up, save your self a pit stop, or maybe two and win the race. But, by now we know, it will not stop raining. And keeping your cars out on slicks will, inevitably loose you the race. And, it no longer rains, but it pours.
We also know that “Social” goes well beyond just customer care, and well beyond marketing. Also, for communication or PR it’s just another channel. And this is just one part of where Social touches Business. For every department within a company there is a possible scenario where they themselves, independently, use Social to communicate with their audience. Whether that be via Tweets, a community forum or a blog (or some other platform). And we’re still only talking about ‘external’ communication.
All these channels and platforms must have an impact on the way people communicate. The more Social is being used, through company structures or through personal use, the more people expect to communicate like this all the time.
The structures that need to be in place to satisfy these needs are unified under Social Business.
A New Product
Wouldn’t it be cool with a the launch of a new service that all departments are on the same page at the same time? Yes, that would be cool.
Imagine, before the launch individual employees can drop hints with their audience, or get valuable feedback for the developers, that HR can recruit on specific set of skill, that PR can prepare the press release, that customer care can access the knowledge base with updated info, and that Marketing has its campaign all ready to go.
All these Social Business efforts need to be synchronised and coordinated. This can never happen when every department kinda just does what it wants.
One Big Happy Family
When a company has everything well organised and employees use new ways to communicate with each other and with customers, brand ambassadors and partners, then everything becomes one integrated system. A system that grows organically, because technology gives it the opportunity to do so.
But, as with all business processes, you need to be able to control it, or at the very least, monitor it. You need to know what’s happening. Giving employees the power to broadcast can be a powerful ally, but it also harbours potential risk.
The system needs to provide a way to control that risk. The system (whatever that may be) needs to be monitored. And depending on the size of your business, this can not be done by a single person, you need a department, run by someone who can wear many hats and can talk to every other department in the company.
Because Social touches every aspect of a business, it has to be, by it’s very nature, a department of its own. And every Social endeavour needs to be aligned with this department.