Who Should Run Your Social Media?


A cross-departmental social media team will improve your company’s social presence.

At a former job, I was part of a team pushing for expanding access to our company’s social media pages. The accounts were administered by a handful of marketing managers, who did not want to relinquish control. After all, weren’t we using social media for marketing purposes? Why would the content or sales teams need access? Wouldn’t that cause chaos and anarchy?

No. In fact, giving access to key people in various departments could actually help your company get more out of social media.

The truth is, social media is too integral to too many different aspects of a business to control it in a silo. The title of a recent Harvard Business Review article says it all: “Social Media Is Too Important to Be Left to the Marketing Department.”

Businesses can use social media for everything from generating leads to gaining market intelligence. And today’s customers expect a brand’s social media accounts to answer all sorts of different needs, from product inquiries to problems with their orders. If only one team is responsible for operating your pages, they need to be able to perform multiple functions, to liaise effectively between customers and internal stakeholders, or to forego some of the valuable benefits of social media.

For example, say your customer does not receive part of a shipment and posts on your Facebook feed to say as much. The marketing person managing your social media either has to 1) also be trained in customer service, 2) reach out to someone on your customer service team (or someone who can locate the shipment) and act as a go-between with the customer, 3) ask the customer to contact someone else in your company, or 4) ignore the post. Any way you slice it, it’s not efficient or a good use of anyone’s time.

That scenario is more common than you might think. Research shows that the number of customers who expect a response through social media has doubled in the last three years, and that seven of eight messages to companies go unanswered for 72 hours. Imagine if your customer service department didn’t respond to emails or pick up the phone for three days!

My former company suffered enormously from problems like these. The marketing managers administering our social accounts were spending hours each week tracking down various employees in other departments to help them problem-solve. They didn’t have time to strategize about content distribution. And even the best communicators were so overloaded with other tasks that leads were going cold before being handed to the sales teams.

If each department identified an employee responsible for overseeing social media, we could have functioned so much more efficiently and effectively. The marketing manager would be responsible for marketing messaging; the content person for generating and distributing content; the sales team for identifying leads and building relationships; and customer service for handling customer inquiries and problems.

Of course, having that many cooks in the kitchen is not without its problems. Keith Quesenberry, the author of the aforementioned HBR article, offers this advice for building a cross-functional social media team from his book Social Media Strategy, Marketing, and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution:

  1. Develop a social care team that can address all areas of social information efficiently and effectively. Identify policies and software systems needed for implementation.
  2. Organize departmental responsibilities in the social care team. Clearly define roles and responsibilities among marketing, customer service, public relations, sales, corporate communication, human resources, etc.
  3. Assign specific employees from each department to social media tasks. Set up social media accounts and give employees access to social media systems.
  4. Create brand guidelines for standards, tone, and style of social media communication. Ask legal and human resources to provide a list of do’s and don’ts for real-time consumer engagement.
  5. Define specific goals based on key performance indicators such as response time, sentiment analysis, engagement, views and shares, and other important metrics.

With the right planning and people in place, a cross-departmental social media team is better suited to interact with customers and business partners on these platforms, and it can help your business get the most out of its social media accounts.

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