Among the questions executives ask about social media is where should it be located? Who should launch, manage and publish the blog(s), vlog(s) and/or podcast(s)? The obvious choices are marketing, public relations, human resources or communications. However, making the right decision is both critical and complex.
To some extent, the answer lies within the internal structure of the business. Taking the org. chart into acount, to determine where social media should live, a business might ask questions such as these:
- Who is most likely to understand the use of social media and then to use it in ways that benefit our customers, our employees and our business most?
- Who has the time, budget and expertise to create engaging communications?
- Who is least likely to use social media to market and sell products?
- Who is most likely to use social media to draw customers into conversation with us; thereby, developing loyal customers, brand evangelists and new customers who appreciate our efforts to give them a voice?
These questions are the basis for the internal discussion. Whoever the business chooses to host social media, they must be excellent writers, they must be creative, they must have access to everyone within the business, they must be familiar with the customers and the communities in which the business has locations, and they must be trusted as open and honest communicators. Furthermore, they must have the courage and the ability to challenge managers and executives who want to turn social media into a bottom line tool.
Yes, social media, if done correctly, will result in return on investment in a variety of forms, including an increase in loyal customers who buy more and who talk positively about the company; an increase in the ability to produce more innovative and better products and services based on customer feedback; the ability to improve the company at every level, again based on customer feedback; and an increase in new customers as they learn about and come to trust the company.
That is the 10,000-foot view of where social media should reside and what to expect from social media. But like any strategy, before launching social media as part of your communications mix, every business should analyze the tools to understand what they do and how they may be used and how social media is and is not the right fit for your business. Using these communications tools is not to be done lightly.
My best advice is to study every detail and discuss all the pros and cons. And then if you decide social media is a good fit for your business, launch the tools internally first. Get employees from every functional area involved, and ask them to be your sounding boards. As in most things, employees know your customers best, and they will contribute incredibly good suggestions and recommendations, if you engage them and give them buy in.
For more information about Lewis Green visit him at http://lgbusinesssolutions.typepad.com/solutions_to_grow_your_bu/