We Are Communication Architects

Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.

January 5th, 2009

Social Media Monitoring and Engagement in the Corporation/Enterprise: Centralized or De-Centralized?

I want to revisit a topic that my colleague Mike Manuel brought up in August of last year: Social Media Monitoring and Engagement Strategy. As Mike pointed out, for many firms the strategy is rather shallow, that is, ‘We listen and respond’…but as he asked, how? why? and the ever important question, how are you measuring the effectiveness of that engagement?

As more organizations pay attention to the social web and begin to engage what is the best structure for this?

What is the best model for online engagement? Centralized or De-Centralized?

Right now I see a mix of two models for companies doing a good job of social media monitoring and engagement:

1. De-centralized: A number of folks all have their own feedreaders and custom RSS searches. What they monitor and respond too is limited to what interests them, or the work they do. This may be aligned by business units or product groups. There is little or no oversight, coordination or measurement.

There are pros/cons to this structure. Obviously it’s good that those who are passionate are getting engaged, but there are risks with this. Also, without any type of metrics there is no coordinated tracking of issues for trends or determination that the time being spent is justified.

I think this is what is happening in many large organizations. As internal social media teams develop to form strategy and support internal folks this may change.

2. Centralized: A person or department such as PR monitors conversations and then responds as needed. In some cases an internal team assists with responding, or best-case scenario the issues are flagged and sent to the appropriate person for response, i.e. customer service, product development, etc.

For large organizations the sheer conversational volume can be overwhelming for one person, or even a department. As we all know, not every conversation is important. How do you determine which issue require responses?

Tools have recently emerged that allow for proper tracking of ‘issues’ online and can assist with the internal assignment and follow-up. Radian6 has added this functionality, and we’ve developed our own tool for clients.

A centralized source can look at the whole picture and hopefully see trends and issue emerging, but that still doesn’t stop employees or other business units from doing their own thing.

That leads to perhaps a third model, which is mixed. Some business units have a centralized approach, but that’s only for their fiefdom.

If you work at an organization what is your strategy? Centralized or De-Centralized? Do you see yourself shifting in the future?

I have a few more thoughts on engagement…..more on that tomorrow though.

About the Author
Josh Hallett leads up the Voce Connect Client Services team, managing the care and feeding of clients and developing social media strategies with the rest of the team. You can also read his personal Hyku blog and follow him on Twitter @hyku.

Filed in Blogging, Social Media

Add Your Comment4 Responses to “Social Media Monitoring and Engagement in the Corporation/Enterprise: Centralized or De-Centralized?”

Kat on January 6th, 2009 at 2:31 am

I think a mixed model is the best solution. While some kind of co-ordination and tracking is necessary, it can be difficult for someone who doesn’t understand the nuances of a particular area to respond or know when to respond.

There’s also difficulty in people being prompted to engage by a central team rather than wanting to comment themselves. There has to be a trade off between tracking the conversation, encouraging it and stifling it.

Rob Williams on January 6th, 2009 at 10:14 am

Each situation is different. I know of organizations that won’t let everyone talk to the press – they only allow designated PR folks. For them, it makes sense because they are very large. However, they do have opportunities for other leaders to “know how to answer”. The trouble with it is that since they are so large, there are more opportunities for them to bump into the press.

So thinking about that, I’d think that mixed is probably the best but only after some alignment is made in the organization. It’s probably good for a few to “tote the line” for a while until everyone else is aligned to the policies, etc. Not saying to create drones, but just get everyone on the same page.

Hannah Del Porto on January 6th, 2009 at 10:59 am

I third the motion. I love that large companies are showcasing their talent by encouraging employees to blog and twitter, but PR/Comm pros are still necessary to formulate a cohesive strategy and measure the results.

Connie Bensen on January 7th, 2009 at 1:50 am

As I demo Techrigy SM2 for enterprise consideration I hear both sides. In some cases a department will be owning it (generally either marketing or PR).

The other side is that the tool is used by many departments. Our category structure & reporting accommodates this just as easily as the single use case.