Organizing For Social Media

by Chad Mitchell, Principal Analyst, Marketing & Strategy, Forrester Research

James Whaley, VP of corporate communications and marketing at Siemens Corporation, wrote an interesting article recently at http://www. forbes.com around effective marketing organizations. He argued that marketing, PR and other departments (e.g. foundations, sales) must work together from a common platform to succeed. He says that, “It’s not who’s in charge–it’s who’s listening.” Whaley uses examples of how his PR, Marketing and Foundation departments work together.

Marketing leaders are tasked with more responsibility every year. Beyond traditional brand stewardship, CMOs are managing P&Ls, customer service, online and emerging channels, and customer experience.

Many CMOs are also responsible for social media. Social media also requires a cross-departmental approach to achieve success and create an effective organization. I interviewed 10 marketing leaders from our CMO group who manage social media. Every interviewee talked about the importance of collaboration with other departments when organizing for social media.

Our research shows that 52% of consumer-facing social media efforts are lead by CMOs. So, marketing is the right place to manage many of the social media functions – but NOT every social media activity. Through our interviews we uncovered a best practice – Assess the social media objective (e.g. listening) first and THEN organize by which department is the best fit.

Similar to Whaley’s article, it’s not about who is leading but which functional group (e.g. marketing, PR, IT) does the best job for the customer. If your social media objective is consumer outreach and monitoring, what department has the most experience in customer relations? Is it Marketing? Probably not. It may be public relations or even customer service who manages that social media activity.

The Good News…

Marketing leaders can take a step back and NOT lead every social media effort. Delegate and focus on what your department does well and team with other departments.

Your customers and organization will be better off!

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