Many large companies have extended teams managing their social media strategy and community managers who interact with customers, but there are still many organizations, especially non-profits and small businesses that are just getting started. One question asked during my San Francisco Social Media Week panel presentation really stuck with me, “If I’m looking to hire someone to do social media on their own, what can I expect from that one person?” It seems like a straightforward question, but the answer really lays in the foundational building blocks of the organization. This brings me to the organizational challenges that all social media managers face:
1. Who is your executive champion? Do you have the right senior leader who will help cut through the organizational challenges and pave a path to success?
It will be challenging to gain traction for a social media program without an executive champion who is willing to prioritize social media appropriately against other marketing and communications initiatives. A champion can help ensure the social experience is integrated into all the other parts of the organization customer care, marketing, product development and that social has a place at the table. You’re not looking for an executive to create the strategy or execute the programs, but you are looking for a champion who is willing to be educated on how social media can augment other functional areas of the company.
2. Do you have the right silo buster as your social media lead?
Virginia Miracle has some great tips on Social Silo-Busting. I have found that the greatest predictor of success is looking for someone who has an entrepreneurial past and is not afraid of boundaries. It is crucial to find the right internal employee who can pivot into a new role as social media lead (maybe this person has a track record of gaining consensus on challenging problems) or to hire the right external person who can pull the right levers in your organization and bust silos. The social media lead should be prepared to give non-threatening advice to an executive who is much more senior but also, work closely with communications managers to execute on the strategic plan.
3. Once your social media organization is on track, how do you evolve beyond the Social Media Help Desk that Jeremiah Owyang discusses in his recent report (which Ogilvy 360DI participated in) and achieve Escape Velocity?
Social media organizations get more budget and credibility as they demonstrate results, but there is always that inflection point when you need to evolve from Social Media Help Desk and create an organizational structure that supports social media in a scalable and strategic way. Your social media leader’s entrepreneurial drive to make change happen and proactively adapt the organization will be the deciding factor in how your social media program evolves. This underlines the importance of finding the right leader who can build a social media organization through collaboration not coercion.