Is a Social Media Team as Important to a Company as IT?

June 30, 2009

I read a good post by Jeremiah Owyang called “Report: Companies Should Organize for Social Media in a “Hub and Spoke” Model”. It was based on some Forrester research, and stated that 42% of the companies it surveyed used this “Hub and Spoke” approach. Twenty-nine percent used the “Tire” approach – where different departments engage in Social media activities but with no centralized direction (and presumably little to no involvement). The “Tower” approach – where Social Media activity is highly centralized (typically under a Corporate Marketing or Communications department) – was used by 20% of the companies.

I just took a very intensive 8-week course at the Social Media Academy – hearing from people who had been there / done that and have tried to pull Social Media into some organizing principles. It is a work in progress, but my takeaway is that the Hub-and-Spoke model works best. However, I would add a caveat to that. Just as tech support is vital in every company, Social Media support is as well.

Within each department that is engaging in Social Media, there should be one person who becomes part of the company-wide Social Media team. A Social Media Manager / Director can be plucked from the ranks and hold this new position that coordinates and informs this team. This allows for more people in various departments to contribute to the Social Media efforts without having to constantly keep on top of new technologies, best practices, etc. Also, since – as Jeremiah asserts in this same post – success is 80% is Strategy and only 20% Technology, this team can help create a Strategy that works in each department but also ties into a company-wide Strategy. They can also jump in and help when some of the assumptions that underlie that Strategy or the Implementation Plans that come out of that Strategy falter. As anyone who has done Strategic Planning knows, what you decide is just your best thinking on one particular day, and humility about the mistakes you make is the best avenue to success.

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