The discussion about a social enterprise and managing social media at scale has been growing.
One recent example is the ebook from Sprinklr that compiles thoughts and recommendations from 30 social media experts.
A good read, I enjoyed much of what was shared.
I agree with the prevailing theme that enterprises have no choice but to embrace social media. As David Armano says, “It’s not if, it’s when.”
However, organizations need to avoid the bright-shiny-new-thing syndrome and first focus on some of the less sexy yet fundamental elements—such as organizational structure and governance—to ensure social media adoption and implementation go more smoothly.
More Than Just a One Off Contact
It used to be that customers would be directed to the different business units or departments when they had a phone inquiry, but with social media, people have come to expect just one single point of contact (SPOC) and that their inquiry will be taken care of from there.
They don’t need to know how or care much about what happens behind the scenes in terms of how their inquiry is being handled; externally, they see one brand, one organization—not a bunch of different units, departments, or silos. That’s the enterprise’s problem—not the consumer’s.
I need to qualify the SPOC in a social media context: I do not mean one social account (e.g. Twitter) staffed by one person to handle every inquiry. That would only lead to a bottleneck and frustrated customers.
What I am suggesting is a social media layer where inquiries are captured, delegated, and routed by a social media team.
Over time, inquirers come to learn where best to direct their inquiries or which social accounts provide the information they seek on a regular basis—but no matter what, the social media team will always capture every inquiry so that customers never feel that service levels have somehow been lowered as a result of the incorporation of social media.
In fact, they should feel the opposite—with more touch points (social, phone, email, chat) they should feel that service levels have improved. Ideally, the social media team has representation from or access to key resources in each area within an organization to route inquiries to or seek information from them.
The Scale of the Social Team
Some recommend that a social media team should be a hub-and-spoke structure; Jeremiah Owyang from the Altimeter Group took it a step further by recommending a modified hub-and-spoke structure where there is centralized oversight and the business units have a certain degree of autonomy but the centralized body acts as a center of excellence, sharing learning and providing governance across the organization.
Regardless of the structure, the social media team’s setup and approach should be aligned with it, whether the organization is command and control, siloed, matrixed, decentralized, or some other type. A social media team structure that conflicts with the organization’s current structure is likely to cause friction and potentially fail.
This may seem philosophically opposed to those who champion that every part of an enterprise needs to be social, but railroading a social agenda through an organization is no different than any other initiative.
You have to respect the culture and structures already in place and gradually bring about change at a pace the enterprise can handle. You may not get it right the first time, but allow yourself the latitude to refine the structure and its associated processes over time.
Social media at scale is not something you set and forget. It’s about planning, execution, and ongoing adjustments as you track your performance and incorporate feedback from stakeholders.
Don’t be surprised if your activities in the beginning change substantially over time. Just look at the arc of social media itself and see how much change has occurred in just a few short years with the introduction of new platforms and tools.
Scale means change, so be ready.