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January 14th, 2010

Social Media as the ‘Last Mile’ – Part 2 – The Internal War

In the first part of this thread I tried to set the stage and lay out some problems that arise with social media in organizations when it becomes that ‘last mile’. Now, let’s move on to those problems.

First up is the internal war. This is what I originally said: 1. Jealousy from the existing marketing teams towards the ‘new’ social media team. This results in internal political battles that cripple both sides.

In his recent WordCamp Atlanta talk, Dave Coustan had a slide that talked about the agency feeding frenzy associated with content-related programs. (It’s slide 11 for those scoring at home).

Agency Feeding Frenzy

You can take that same slide and replace the outer ring with internal divisions. In fact I just did that :-)

An Internal Feeding Frenzy

This is something that happens in organizations, the internal battle over who manages social media.

Well-run social media programs with good measurement quickly show their value, and with that value comes increased budget and internal power. It’s a good place to be, if you’re on the right team.

In most cases one division leads the charge and establishes the high ground (keeping with the ‘war’ metaphor). Sometimes the other divisions will work in partnership or relinquish control, which makes everything much smoother.

However, sometimes the battle rages on. If a truce is not reached the social media strategy becomes fragmented. Business units create their own plans and associated accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. Multiply this by a number of divisions and you have a number of things happening:

1. Duplication of Efforts: This is a duplication of budget, staff resources you name it. There is always some in-efficiency within large organizations, but this duplication starts to have a trickle-down effect….which leads to #2. 2. Confusion for the User: With a number of different channels on Twitter/Facebook/etc which one do they ask a question of? Guess what, without a clear definition of what and who the channels are for, they often ask all of them. Now you have three or four different teams interacting with one customer, that’s not very efficient. 3. Mapping Back to Core Goals: Do all the different social media efforts map back to the core goals of the corporation? If not, why are you doing it? Yes community can be good, but it has to have a purpose. 4. Screw Ups: Are all the individuals managing these various programs adhering to best practices and ethical conduct? What may be a no-no for PR might be standard practice for the promotions department. As we know, social media communities have their own rules, and screw-ups tend to generate negative publicity (read: You had an intern doing what?). A mistake by one division will cast a shadow over an entire program. 5. Can You Support It?: Social media programs take a significant commitment, can every division do that? Often divisions that want a piece of the social media pie have an ‘idea’ or ‘campaign’ in mind. This may last for a few weeks or months, but after that where does it go? Why spend time building a community just to let it go? 6. How Do You Measure it?: With each different division doing different things on social networks is there a consistent measurement methodology in place? Can the measures be easily rolled-up into a overall program reach report? Measurement takes time and this goes back to #1, if you have five groups doing their own thing, then you have five staff members working on measurement in different ways. That’s dumb.

All of this points to the need for internal governance and planning. Multiple presences on social networks is not a bad thing if it’s planned and coordinated. In fact a distributed program can be very powerful. The ability to tailor content for specific channels while not overlapping is what social media is all about.

The internal battles will rage on, hopefully though the customer will no longer be collateral damage.

Part 3 coming in a bit.

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.

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