Nov 16, 2010

Defining Your Social Media Team's Role

Social media is an increasingly popular area of marketing and communications for businesses of all sizes. Companies from industries of all types are interested in learning about the basics of building and implementing a social media strategy.
Since social media is still a burgeoning area in business, there aren’t any set steps for success. While there are many suggestions and recommendations across the web, many of these pointers are specific to certain types of businesses or industries.
One area of social media that can be discussed with relative consensus, though, is how to define a social media team’s role in your organization. While there are varying paths that can be chosen, they all stem from the same considerations: the goal of social media, who should be involved, what the responsibilities include, and how the strategy should be implemented. Furthermore, it is important to note how the social media team will interact with the company and community at large.

Determine Goals

The first step to planning any addition to an organization should be setting goals. Before joining the social world, an organization should have an understanding of its goals for:

-The social media team at large,
-Each social platform, and
-Individual team members.
The first thing you need to do is define a purpose. What is the purpose of starting a community? Over the past two years, we heard, ‘You’ve got to be in social! You’ve got to be in social!’ A lot of companies are doing that, but they don’t know why.  
The role of the social media team may start with defining what your role as a company is within each of the various social channels where you interact with customers. Each community tends to define how they’d like to see the business interact with them. It’s important to be receptive to those ideas and work collaboratively to define a role where both customers and the organization can find equal utility.
With Twitter for instance, the real-time nature of the tool tends to lend itself to an operational focus; service monitoring and recovery. While Facebook or a blog are more focused on story-telling, sales or promotions.
Having goals in place for the social media team, its individuals and each social platform will enable team members to define responsibilities and measure success.

Allocate the Appropriate Internal Resources

After an organization has defined what the social media team should be and whom it should include, the next step is to survey available internal resources and allocate them appropriately. This includes employees, funds and equipment.
Once the role is defined, the internal resources best suited to address each of those areas work to figure out how they can support it effectively. Having representatives from various teams: Corporate Communications, Marketing, Customer Commitment or Operations coming together as a working group is a great way to make sure all expectations are met. However I we recommend keeping those representatives tied to the overall functions of their original teams. This allows a great deal of flexibility for the team.
It is essential to get the right team members involved. Divvying up responsibilities based on each team member’s strength and the goals of the social media strategy. Strategists, marketers, site administrators, content managers and project managers can all bring their strengths and POV’s to the process to ensure success.

Create a Social Media Policy

A social media policy is a great way to set your company’s expectations for social media use in writing for all to see — either internally or externally (or both). These policies come in many forms and can be sensitive documents only for company eyes or public-facing guidelines shared with the world.
In most cases, it’s a legal and organizational necessity to have a social media policy to set the tone for employees and the community.

Communicate Effectively Across the Organization

Just because a team is labeled the “social media team” doesn’t mean they have to exclusively use social media tools to communicate with each other and the rest of the community. There is a bit of a misconception about social media enthusiasts that portrays them as Facebook-crazed, Twitter-frenzied social media addicts.
I’m a firm believer that sometimes old-school tools work best. Many of the traditional corporate tools work quite well for the majority of teams — e-mail, IM, or the good ol fashioned phont call.
Setting up a social media team is quite a task, but it can be simplified by following some of the above recommendations.