Social Media Operations Running the Farm
Who Owns Social Media?
Social media is not a channel so much as a tool set. So, asking the organizational question, “Who in our enterprise owns social media?” is not a hundred percent on the mark. Many departments in your organization (market research, customer service, legal, PR, investor relations, marketing) may use social media as a research or listening tool. Or they may leverage social channels to amplify the public communications they send out as a function of their jobs.
In most businesses, the social media team lives in the marketing department, with dotted lines to customer service and legal. Where I work, we maintain online communities for each major brand. Marketing brand managers set the strategic and creative direction for their brand communities. Public relations specialists oversee the process—ensuring coordination among the players, encouraging cross promotion, and enforcing the rules of the road.
Planning Your Social Media Program
I talked about the need for a formal charter document for your social media program—something between a marketing plan and a full-blown business plan. You’ll also need more tactical daily and seasonal plans. High-impact social media campaigns involve many moving parts, both within the social media landscape and in traditional media. Such campaigns call upon players in your marketing, legal, customer service, and operations departments. They require technology development and a number of weeks or months of lead time.
What does it cost to run a social media program? Is such a program a bootstrap operation? Or is it one that has the funds to deliver on its promise to the brand and its fans, with sufficient staff, technology, and promotional dollars to make an impact?
Based on my experience, I’d propose that the social media budget should be in the neighborhood of 5–10% of the entire marketing budget. Within that, paid social media advertising ought to receive 5–10% of the overall online ad budget.
Social Media Certification
In the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters specialty coffee business, we have a remarkable social media diva and cat-herder named Kristen Mercure. Kristen, a senior public relations specialist, is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the social media efforts of all our brand managers and their outside agencies. She also serves as liaison between these dozens of people and the stakeholders in public relations, legal, customer service, and other departments.
Building Your Social Media Dream Team
I hope I’ve sold you on the merits of the social media certification process. But now, who are you going to certify? Gone are the days when you could entrust your organization’s social media program to a computer-savvy intern (if those days ever really existed). “I spend a ton of time on Facebook and Twitter!” is not a qualification. Today you need motivated professionals who view social media management as a career
Sure, enthusiasm for the platforms is a must. Your candidates must embrace the different cultures of Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube—whatever platforms are your priority. The ideal candidate will also be customer-centric and brand obsessed, display a clear vision for an effective social media campaign strategy, and serve as a reliable compass for how to comport oneself online. Fluency with web-based tools and attention to detail are also key. Remember, your social media representatives are just one “publish” button away from the eyes of the entire world.
Community interaction, marketing campaigns, and promotions are the exciting aspects of social media—the stuff that happens in the glare of the spotlight. But what makes it all succeed is the unglamorous, backstage work of operations management: solid planning, budgeting, and staffing—and damage control when things go awry
Social media marketing is no passing fad. It’s here to stay. To succeed takes the same discipline, structure, allocation of resources, and cycle of continuous improvement that you apply to other aspects of your business. In fact, operational excellence can separate winning programs from losers. While other businesses may be throwing money and effort pell-mell at social media, you can conduct your program with foresight, strategic thinking, and clear goals in mind.