As companies test and deploy social media marketing efforts, the organizational structures for effective social media teams begin to evolve. On the client side, Public Relations often leads social media but that doesn’t mean other functional areas of the business aren’t involved as well, especially Marketing and Customer Service.
Being more social and by proxy, engaged in social media, is new territory for most organizations and hiring outside expertise is pretty common. There’s a challenge in vendor or consultant selection, because so many consultants and agencies have added “social media expert” to their repertoire without necessarily having that expertise. The whole “social media user is not a social media expert” topic is something I’ll talk about in another blog post.
What skills should an agency have? A consultant? An in-house leader of Social Media or community manager? The answer to these questions will be slightly different for each organization, especially according to its purpose(s) for social engagement. Most companies that have full time staff dedicated to Social Media, are slim. However, as organizations mature, they tend to evolve appreciation for the outcomes of being more social for customer service, marketing, recruiting, advertising and PR purposes. That means allocating budget for more staff, software and any other resources.
The challenge most companies run into when they start is:
- “Who’s going to be responsible for leading social media and where’s the budget going to come from?”
- “What are we going to stop or delay doing in place of this social media stuff?”
In the cases I’ve seen, social media is a shared responsibility across departments, often led by Public Relations or Marketing. The first hire is often a Community Manager, which is a position we recommend as soon as possible.
For an agency, there’s usually an Account Manager or Executive that serves to liaise with the client contact. Sometimes Account Mangers are responsible for developing strategy, but most often they’re more of a Project Manager. Social media marketing functions can be distributed between social media content groups that perform a variety of functions including:
- Community management
- Social media monitoring & analysis
- Social SEO
- Blogger and influential outreach
- Social network development
- Social content/media development
For companies that are looking for agency help with social media marketing, I think it’s essential to understand what goes into a succcessful social media marketing program and the staff that the agency should have at the various stages of the company’s social media maturity. Having a few socially active and recognized individuals does not make a successful social media consultancy. There are many more skills and efforts that go into a great program involving the types of skills I’ve mentioned above.
My questions for you, whether you’re a company that has been involved with the social web as a marketing function or an agency are:
- When you committed to being involved with social media, how did you staff for it?
- Did you hire outside consulting expertise?
- Did you share the responsibilities internally?
- Did you hire full time internal staff?
- What did you have to show management before being able to hire dedicated resources? (internal staff, agency or consultant)
Please take a stab at any of these questions in the comments or feel free to visit our Facebook Page to discuss.