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Moving Under the Social Media Umbrella

Big companies have rushed head long into the social media space creating social media departments and titles like Social Media Strategist, Community Manager, and Director of Conversation. You know, I’ve never been very big on job titles, but I also think stuffing social media participation into a department or job function limits the way organizations should be thinking about social media.

social media umbrellaOn the other hand small businesses seem fixated on figuring out if Facebook is a more valuable play than LinkedIn – again missing what’s going on all around them.

Perhaps in the beginning the new set of social tools dictated some restructuring and scrambling as people were trying to figure out what to make of this new space, but a funny thing happened on the way to those discoveries. Social media behavior just sort of poured into every corner of the business, regardless of size.

The notion of social media as behavior suggests that you simply can’t contain it to a department, an activity, something more to do, even if you try.

Social media activity has proven its value as a way to create awareness, trust, leads, opportunities, content, customers, employees, service, referrals, collaboration and communication in its multiple forms.

Social media is an umbrella behavior that has life in some form in every department. (Hint to PR and social media consulting firms this is how you should position your work.)

It might be safe to suggest that marketing has this same sort of pervasive reach and that it is the rightful home for social media integration, but there’s something less tangible, yet more pervasive about this evolving business behavior that feels more like business strategy.

So, instead of planning that suggests lists of social media tactics it might be more appropriate to simply start asking – how will we be more social? How will we use social behavior to change our business, our customers, our people, our community, and our industry?

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  • http://ericungs.com EricUngs

    Hey John…

    I do agree with you, companies can't limit social media participation to a title or department, it won't ever reach its full potential. It does need to be spread out and simply implemented into their business behavior as a whole. I do think that the positions you mention are crucial to have employed. Not so much for the engagement part, but to lead their companies social media initiative. There needs to be a go to person, someone with knowledge of the space, someone to keep eye on behaviors to ensure it remains within the lines of their strategy that's in place, this person needs to be available within the company.

    Thanks for the post!
    @EricUngs

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Eric, I agree with all your points, but first there needs to be this acceptance that it's happening in every part of your business whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

  • http://www.nichetank.com/ Noel

    That's a great question.

  • http://www.therisetothetop.com David Siteman Garland

    Here is the thing, social media does a great job of amplifying bad business as well which is actually good news.

    Bad business would be: Poor customer service, terrible website, bad product, the list goes on.

    As businesses become more aware of how any given customer has an exponentially larger voice, it forces them to do what they should have done in the first place: Care about customers. Care about relationships. Care about the product and helping people.

    Just my .02 or .03 cents.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Great add David – social media didn't make it easier for people to bitch, it just made it easier to hear.

  • arnold

    its great business.

    Have you heard about Mojofiti.com? http://www.mojofiti.com is a website where anyone can get an international blog and every entry, email and group is translated into 28 different languages for free. It's awesome, finally a world without language barriers!

  • http://katetheprofessional.wordpress.com/ kate

    Here's the problem: the leaders of many small and medium sized businesses, even many big businesses, don't want to change. Adapting to the social world means that the company culture, the very core, has to change, has to accept social media and engage.

    Most often the CEO doesn't want to hear it. The managers don't want to hear it. They just want to punt social media off on some new kid. And when it doesn't work, they want to be able to fire the kid and shrug it off as a failure. Sad but true.

  • http://www.popupbooster.com/ Alan Green

    On the other hand: a non-public traded company has not the limitations of SOX and Compliance to deal with.
    They have more freedom to publish and write whatever seems appropriate to them. This allows them to react faster as there are no long decision lines or multiple people involved (Corporate Communications Director, Marketing Director, PR, …)

  • interacter

    Hi John

    I agree with the points that you make there totally. However, I would also add that companies both big and small need to strategise their social media interactions to ensure that it delivers against business objectives.

    I feel that many companies omit doing this, then wonder why it goes wrong!

  • http://www.officedeskreviews.com/ Lloyd

    John,

    I totally agree that social media has a life of its own in every department. I'd go deeper on this one: the more it is known and used the less it seems to be useful as a separate department. In smallbiz, one must always make intuition and specific issues converge and leave the impact strategy graphs for some time later

    Lloyd,
    http://www.officedeskreviews.com

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  • http://www.SharedMarketing.com/ Michelle

    This evolution of social media becoming pervasive and a part of the whole organization, regardless of job title, rings familiar. One of the bigger shortcomings we see in many retailers is that they think of marketing / advertising as this isolated effort, one that is tied only to traditional media (or even new media) placement. It is quite an “aha” moment when a retailer realizes that marketing touches EVERY part of the business.

    Do your sales associates say “hello” to every customer who walks in? Is your store clean, well-lighted (when appropriate), and inviting? Do customers reach a live person when they phone your company? Do you do everything you can to make your customers enjoy their experiences dealing with you?

    All of these are elements of marketing. I'd venture to guess that the companies who are doing the best job at understanding this type of holistic marketing are probably the ones also using social media most naturally (and effectively).

    Not just social media, but any kind of marketing is best done when it touches all elements of the business. Encouraging the entire company to “be more social” is akin to creating and maintaining a brand in every customer touch. Each stands to achieve its goals in a much more natural progression if it is an inherent – and inseparable – part of the whole business.

  • http://bubbleumbrella.blogspot.com umbrella

    Great article.

    Imho I don't think that the social media is a good way to improve your bussiness. I see lots of companys shifting to Twitter and Facebook, but there is only a few who successfully intergrated their bussiness in to the social media networks. This is because Social Media already has a tons of spam and people started to notice it and not trusting.

    I seen somewhere that today is nearly impossible to sell something directly to your follower or a fan. The best and only way to gain social users trust is 90% of communication/help/assistance and only 10% of selling your stuff.

    Cheers.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    The idea behind integration is that you use it long term to build trust. I made a 5 figure product sale just this past week with a single tweet, but it was only because I had done lots before that tweet to build trust.

  • http://www.it-career-coach.net/ Kingsley Tagbo

    Perhaps what is most interesting is that companies are moving to cash in their Social Media assets after sitting on the fence for so long.

    But then, the next question is “what is the proper way to be more social” … which is the question that your post addresses

    In terms of the LinkedIN / Facebook debate, I would say that LinkedIn is a more business / corporate like environment while facebook is a more consumer oriented social media platform

    The answer of which is best depends on the persona of the company's consumers

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