Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cross Functional Social Media Engagement

Cross Functional Social Media Engagement

Wow, what in the heck does that mean for a business? I believe it scares the heck out of a number of different types of businesses. Let’s take out any type of financial business as they have a whole slew of regulations. When setting up a social media strategy it could mean some of the following:

Your company has lost control of what is being communicated to your customer. Let me explain. There is no longer a “canned” response that your employees are able to provide to a customer because prior you where in some sense “feeding” the customer questions to ask. With social media engagement your customers are now formulating questions they want to ask you and every single one of them is different. No more canned responses for your employees. Your employees are no longer robots, but human beings.

Professionalism somewhat out the door, if you are a human, you need to act like a human. Your responses back to customers are a little lighter, not a direct response. Show a little more feeling, loosen up, have a little fun in your responses. In the end, your customers will think you are a pretty cool company, and a stiffy stifington (yes that is a made up word) company. You can no longer think it is just the older generation you are chatting with, plus they have no clue how old you are, so be cool. Is your company cool, or do you have canned responses?

Yes, you still need to have some Human Resource and legal presence. I am not saying turn your company completely over to your employees, there need to be some guidelines. Do not make your guidelines so stringent that everyone is afraid of responding to any messages. We want social engagement among your customers. If your customer’s are chatting away, posting on numerous social media sites and you as a company fail to respond, guess what, off they will go to another company or worse, their comments towards the company will become negative. Social Media Policies, good or bad, if broken what is the recourse?

Your teams are being forced to step out of their silos they have been working in for the past decade. Yes, silos, you know concrete, cannot break through, no discussion going back and forth. Social engagement is forcing ALL of your company departments to work together. Strange word isn’t it, working together. Without a team your social engagement will quickly become one sided. Social media is everyone, within your organizations, responsibility. I worked for a company that had many “silos” what is yours like, do your departments share information?

The cry of “we need an expert”. I have heard this time and again in many of the network events I attend. There are NO experts. What you learn today can quickly change tomorrow. Social media is new to all of us and ever changing. Threw out the “expert” word and start socializing, after you develop some sort of a plan anyway, which is another good point.

You have to develop a plan. Companies really do not like plans where they cannot see a short term ROI. I was recently discussing social media with a potential customer and the first thing out of his mouth was “What is my ROI?” Everything does not have revenue tied directly to it. Think about what your company is quickly losing if your company is not listening or engaging in social media. Do you believe Social Media is a benefit to your company or hindering?

I will get off of my soap box; of course I want everyone to engage in social media, why would they not understand the benefits? What are your thoughts, do you think companies are just lazy and scared and want their competitors to just pass them by?


  1. Good post Rena!
    The fear of failure seems to be stronger than the will to win in many companies.

  2. Rena, Your observations and insight into using Social Media in business are right on. Very often I hear business owners asking the wrong questions and therefore looking for the wrong answers in the implementation of social media in their client/consumer communication. Social Media is often the client/customer's preferred method of communicating. That is where the real "ROI" comes in. Thanks for sharing.

  3. In the B2B space, the ROI questions is pretty big, right next to how many are using it. Then when they don't see someone in their industry, instead of seeing the opportunity, they see an excuse. Some professional service firms consider social media an incredible time sink. This is the group that most surprises me, the ones that always talk about personal referrals and WOM as how they get new business.

    Social business is the way to go. The early adopters will be the leaders.


  4. Interesting observations Rena, I wonder if social media will put pressure on businesses to adopt a different organisational structure of smaller, discrete units.

    I recently read of a large and successful company (regrettably, I forgot to keep the link)that attributed its success to never allowing a unit under one roof to expand beyond 100 people. As soon as a unit reached that level, the manager had to split some part(s) off.

    The thinking being that 100 was the threshold beyond which the corporate structure stifled the entrepreneurial spirit.

    I would imagine it would be much easier to nurture a consistent social media voice in units of less than 100 than with 1000's of people perhaps pursuing different agenda.

  5. Great post Rena it is a paradigm shift whether people like to see it or not.
    @Peter would be great if you find that company. I know that both Siemens and IBM are driven by similar organization models It may not be 100 but certainly try to keep small and agile units.
    Now if you take the agility of those kind of small teams and apply what Rena states here - those units would do a lot of damage to their competitors.


  6. Disorganised media which will become organised and controlled by the few - just like now.

    Google is a classic leader.

    Wiki-bullshit is another - George Orwell was absolutely staggeringly, shockingly right!

    We're going through a bit of a noisy revolution, but the corporations and the governments will check it - soon.

    Cheers John

  7. Great post. I like the way you pointed out that the tone in Social Media has to be more casual than the normal "formal" style of "one way" communication. Companies have to recognize the value of a two-way conversation with their customers. People today just want to know they are heard.

  8. Good stuff Rena, glad Carece introduced me to you! Best wishes.

  9. Great Article...... Carece said you were on the money.....!

  10. Nice post Rena, as you stated companies do need to provide some guidelines or recommendations for their employees when engaging in public discussion with customers in the social spaces/places. But they should keep clear of defining a social media POLICY. Now I hear a few cry's coming out here, bare with me. WHY? you want to encourage your employees to engage not give them a climate of fear, where they are fearful of doing the wrong thing. Give them some recommendations, in fact involve your employees in building the social media recommendations. Be prepared for someone making a mistake, it will happen they are Human. This risk could be mitigated by listening to the social channels and correcting inaccuracy or error in posts from your employees. Let your employees learn from their mistakes and adapt there engagement as appropriate.