The seven departments in your company that you should consider incorporating into your social media strategy.
Whether you're just dipping your toes into the pool of social media communities in the marketing world today, or you've been out there swimming in it for a while, putting together the right team to create, execute, implement, and measure your social media strategy is a vital, if not foundational part of your success. The right mix of talents and personalities is essential in creating a great social media team.
I'm a strong advocate for "pulling from within" a company when putting together a social media team, and here's why: your current employees know you better than any outsider. You won't have to spend a lot on training your current staff on what your position is in your industry; they're already going to be well versed in it. The area where they will need training is in how you want them to engage with your audience in a public-facing arena. While having a Facebook page does constitute being socially engaged, it's an entirely different matter if you have someone new to your team assigned to interacting on your company-facing Facebook fan page.
Keeping that in mind, there are some key areas of your company you should consider utilizing employees from to create your team. Here are some departments you should consider incorporating from:
Customer service. Members of your customer service team are uniquely qualified to interact with your audience already. They have the empathy skills to get to the root of an issue (both good and bad) and get to a resolution that both the customer and company can be satisfied with. If you're looking to interact in forums, message boards, Twitter, or even Facebook, tap someone from this department to help out with the engagement.
Search engine optimization. At the end of the day, you still need to be found. Who better than the experts of optimization for search engines can you tap to optimize your social content? Social and search are two different "beasts," but people still search and members from this team understand the basic components of what matters in producing search results in different platforms.
Web analytics. Your efforts in social media marketing need to be measured. How else will you know if your efforts are successful or falling upon deaf ears? Tapping resources from your web analytics team can help you understand how your social media efforts are affecting your website traffic. The other piece of this is that resources from this area of your company are going to understand how to pull in data from other channels to help you measure your success beyond your website.
Public relations. The members of your PR team have a unique skill of connecting your company with the right people to listen to your stories and generate interest in what you're doing. This is a lot different than engaging with customers because the PR team's task is to answer the media's/public's main question of "why should I care about this?" If you've got some major efforts going on in your strategy, make sure to plan on tapping your PR department to generate interest beyond your customer base in social media.
Marketing. While social media can be "marketing," there's still that fundamental concept of keeping your message on track so not to confuse your customers, audience members, or the media. Your marketing department understands this better than anyone and can be very qualified to look at your research data that you bring back (via buzz monitoring tools and analytics) and know whether their messaging is being interpreted correctly in the online social media environment.
Legal. Most people groan, roll their eyes, and want to run for the hills when they think about dealing with legal implications of social media marketing. That's why it's important to make sure that you have some sort of legal advocate on your team to help you head off any potential problems before you set off on your way and realize you've just stepped into the "wrong pool." It's a lot cheaper to bring them in from the beginning to help you do things right than bringing them in to help clean up the mess.
Human resources. Last, but by no means least, the department a lot of companies overlook is HR. These folks are the experts at understanding how employees function within a company, which departments relate to one another, and how to build policies that are fair to employees but also protect the company. Not only that, they're probably more aware of all the different types of employee horror stories (think of the pictures employees could be posting on their profiles or status updates) than you or anyone else in your company and can help you develop training to head off issues like these before they happen.
When you're looking to build a solid social media strategy that a team can implement, make sure you're not only integrating your marketing channels, but also integrating the skills of your team members.
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Liana "Li" Evans is the author of the award winning social media marketing book, "Social Media Marketing: Engaging Strategies for Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media" and she is the president and CEO of Da Li Social, as well as an adjunct professor for Rutgers University's Mini MBA Program. Liana has also been featured in the books "Online Marketing Heroes" and "Video Marketing An Hour a Day." As an established online marketing industry veteran with over 15 years of experience she's focused her unique skillset to specialize in integrated marketing and how companies can successfully strategize integrating all online marketing channels as well as offline traditional media. Her deep technical combined with a public relations background enables her to partner with clients for establishing successful online marketing campaigns that combine cross-channel tactics cohesively.
Li was the search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing architect for such companies as QVC and Comcast (Fancast) and has consulted with several other different sized companies such as AOL MovieFone. Her wealth of knowledge in dealing with large e-commerce and content sites allows her a wider perspective into what it takes to launch successful marketing campaigns in the online space.
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