Social Media is a Group Effort

Only one way is the right way.

One person should not own a brand’s social media presence.  Yet, amazingly, this is often the case at many brands, including huge global corporations.

Giving the keys to the social kingdom to one single person is – to put it bluntly – crazy.

Would any brand give the authority to write and publish press releases to a single person?  Would an individual be granted carte blanche to create and launch a brand’s advertising campaign?

Of course not.

Then why do so many brands rely on one person to drive their social media?

A few real-life examples of the dangers of this practice:

  • At the Corporate Social Media Summit in New York earlier this summer, I spoke with a vice president of marketing for a global consumer brand.  He told me that his director of social media left abruptly after being offered a great opportunity by another brand.  “It has taken us more than six months to recover,” he said. “This director drove our content, spearheaded our engagement and knew our social strategy inside and out.”  And when this director left – he took all of this knowledge with him.  “We basically had to start all over again,” the VP said.  “I really learned my lesson not to put so many eggs in one basket.”
  • At a recent meeting with a new client, the communications team asked us to help them recover their own social media assets.  When we asked them to explain, they told us they opened channels on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube under the brand name in order to hold them until they were ready to go.  However, in the ensuing months, it took longer than they expected to get ready.  Now that they are on the starting blocks no one can remember the log-ins to the channels.  Why?  Because the intern who secured the channels has left the company – and they can’t find her.  So they’re locked out of their own channels.
  • Here is the process for writing a press release at one corporation: meeting of the communications team to discuss upcoming news, assign writing tasks, interview appropriate subject experts, write-up draft releases, edit drafts, get approvals from press release participants, final approval with VP of communications.  Here is their process for writing Facebook status updates for their brand’s page with more than 75,000 fans: the PR coordinator does it.  The youngest, most inexperienced person on the team has the authority to provide content for the brand’s largest direct (and most public) communications channel.

The responsibility for social media should not rest with one person – or with (forgive me for using this term) one internal social media guru.  Social communications needs to be integrated into the overall communications program.  It should be a central part of all external communications and marketing.

How should brands do that?

First they need to a infuse social into their culture.  They should form a social media steering committee.  This team should include members of communications, marketing, customer service and human resources.  The committee should be responsible for creating a social media policy for the company and act as the final judge on all social media decisions (they should also be the holders of the log-in information for each social asset – and change the passwords frequently to make sure these sites are protected and that only key members of the team have access to them).

Second brands need a social media guide customized for them.  This guide should be strictly for those creating content and directly managing social media assets.  It should outline the brand’s social channels and the rules for creating content on each channel and how the brand plans to interact and respond to users and fans.  This means providing robust best practices.

By institutionalizing social media into communications and marketing, no one person holds the keys to the kingdom.  Brands won’t be held hostage by an employee who leaves for greener pastures or, heaven help us, gets run over by a bus.

How is your company managing social media?  Is a team running the show or is an individual?

2 Responses to “Social Media is a Group Effort”

  1. Very interesting and helpful. Steering committee a good idea.


  1. What is the Value of a Facebook Like? | The Social Guy - August 23, 2011

    […] George F. Snell III: Social Media is a Group Effort ( […]

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