Number of Corporate Social Media Accounts On Rise: Risk of “Social Media Help Desk”

How many social media accounts does an advanced social business have? Well, when we look at mature companies like Microsoft, we find large indexes, or CPG giants like Coca-Cola each deploy their own, then even regionalize, or any large retail or hospitality brand that has regional stores with their own specific accounts like each hotel at Four Seasons with their own Twitter accounts.

Altimeter’s continued research on the Social Media Management System (read all posts) space has found some interesting findings. In fact, our recent survey out to corporate marketers at large corporations yielded a surprising number of social media accounts.

Companies average an overwhelming number of corporate owned accounts: 178
Above: Companies average an overwhelming number of corporate owned accounts: 178. Note: This does not include personal accounts that an employee would take with them if they left the company.

Number of Accounts To Increase as Social Business Matures
The above data is a sample of the data we recently got back from the field on the growth from 140 global national corporations with over 1000 employees averaged. Large corporations have dozens to hundreds of products, and each can be regionalized spurring on the number of accounts, plus corporate level accounts, as well as campaign focused accounts created by agency partners. While 178 seems like a lot now, it’s only going to increase, what’s spurring this growth? This is an indicator that companies are shifting into hub and spoke and multiple hub and spoke, also known as “Dandelion“, which our research on maturity models indicate this a growing trend. Beyond the data, it’s just common sense as each business unit beyond corporate communications wants their own account.

While Only 6 Quarters In, Number of Vendors Nearly 30 -Expect Over 100
In fact the number of vendors continues to increase, just yesterday I added Webtrends, Targeted, and SproutSocial onto The List of Social Media Management Systems. While only about 30 vendors now, this will continue to grow, I expect the category set to reach 100 vendors just as I saw the same patterns with the community platform space, also a commodity marketplace. In fact, expect more software incumbents that help to manage communications (email, marketing auto, crm, analytics, customer support apps and beyond) to integrate these features by building or buying in rapid succession. In fact, the Financial Times just published a piece on the growth of this space, and cited our research on spending.

Corporate Social Strategist at Risk Falling into a Role of Sanitation
So what does this mean for the Corporate Social Strategist, who we conduct research on frequently? This is an indicator that if they don’t have a strategy to safely manage growth they are going to head into the ever reactive sanitation role of social media helpdesk soon. What does the Helpdesk look like? It’s simple: they are constantly responding (but falling behind) on requests from stakeholders who want their own social accounts. If they don’t provide a strategy, the business units deploy it on their own. The end state? the strategist still has to clean this up or close down accounts –it never ends.

We’ve found that savvy Corporate Social Strategists have deployed the following strategy:

  1. Get Ready Internally: First, got their company ready by setting up internal requirements checklist for Business Units before they asked. This would include needs, education, process, policy and continual training and communication
  2. Develop and Audit Process: Internal inventory and audit of all accounts, and a ‘certification’ program to ensure business units agree to the above item, then they are listed on the official index lists as sanctioned.
  3. Enterprise Workflow: Deploy an enterprise wide process on how information will be listened for, triaged, tagged, accounted for, and reported in a daily routine as customer data flows across the enterprise and beyond
  4. Provide Software: Finally purchase an enterprise wide Social Media Management System that meet the business needs listed above, and integrate with customer software platforms
  5. Rollup Reporting: Provide enterprise wide reporting to executive heads by aggregating data from the disparate business units.

Currently we (Brian Solis, Andrew Jones, Christine Tran, Zak Kirchner and myself) helping brands with vendor selection, and will be publishing a report on this topic, and are happy to provide additional data and analysts perspective to press and media.

86 Replies to “Number of Corporate Social Media Accounts On Rise: Risk of “Social Media Help Desk””

  1. Jeremiah, an excellent article.

    The key value for these type of solutions – particularly for implementations like the Four Seasons – is the ability to segment and target your traffic.   While there will always be value to communicate to customers at a corporate level, the “spokes” are where you can provide granular information that is specific to someone’s interests.  

    More than ever, brands must find ways to “rise above the noise” to make their content interesting and useful for their fans, followers, advocates, etc..   Playing a “one size fits all” approach will result in your messages dropping off the radar.

  2. Jeremiah, an excellent article.

    The key value for these type of solutions – particularly for implementations like the Four Seasons – is the ability to segment and target your traffic.   While there will always be value to communicate to customers at a corporate level, the “spokes” are where you can provide granular information that is specific to someone’s interests.  

    More than ever, brands must find ways to “rise above the noise” to make their content interesting and useful for their fans, followers, advocates, etc..   Playing a “one size fits all” approach will result in your messages dropping off the radar.

  3. Jerimiah-Very good wrapup here, and it mirrors some of the challenges and planning considerations we have gone through. The group I’m in is specifically approaching Social from the perspective of Customer Care, and we find that each operating group “wants” it’s own handle/page/profile etc…but it does not make sense from the customer perspective to do this (usually). Customers just see us as “AT&T”, not the specific customer care team we might work on. It’s an interesting evolutionary process to observe.

  4. Jerimiah-Very good wrapup here, and it mirrors some of the challenges and planning considerations we have gone through. The group I’m in is specifically approaching Social from the perspective of Customer Care, and we find that each operating group “wants” it’s own handle/page/profile etc…but it does not make sense from the customer perspective to do this (usually). Customers just see us as “AT&T”, not the specific customer care team we might work on. It’s an interesting evolutionary process to observe.

  5. Agreed 100%.   We offer a solution called MessageMaker Social that plays in this exact space  that we’re hoping to talk with you along with Brian, Andrew, Christine, and Zak.

    We love seeing market leaders help evangelize this story and concept.

  6. That’s a crazy amount of corporate accounts but I like the idea of an enterprise wide system and audit in place. Always make sure a trusted person is representing your brand socially though.

  7. Jeremiah — Really solid overview of the tipping point where social media sprawl can reduce a strategist to a help desk role. I wonder if you could unpack those five items in the corporate social strategy section? It would be great to see a post on each of those five list items, featuring models and/or case studies that illustrate specific successes in each of those areas. 

  8. Great information, Jeriemiah. Our company is trying to tackle the Enterprise Workflow. Do you have examples/research on best practices in this area? 

  9. As a member of the “Help Desk” industry, I am a bit lost on “Number of Corporate Social Media Accounts On Rise: Risk of Social Media Help Desk”
    What exactly is the RISK?
    Do you really need another team.  There are support professionals and frameworks for support that exist already.  I agree our exisiting systems and professionals need training and tools, but we are not at risk of anything but Social Media FUD.

  10. Isn’t this obvious? And not necessarily a problem? In the old days, companies ran ads in lots of different magazines to connect with different communities. Now in age of social, they “engage” via new platforms with people who don’t necessarily want to do business with a “company” but with individuals, or who want to be part of a smaller community. All it means is that companies need a central core vision that everyone understands, and individuals manning the sub-communities who are versed in three things — corporate culture, specific area of expertise, and, of course, social engagement and community management. Lots of ways to get this right.

  11. Edward, good point on scalable distribution of the past, but I agree with your point that ‘engagement’ requires more resources to be involved in responding, triaging, and measuring.  Engagement, while needed in today’s modern business, is not scalable.  

  12. Edward, good point on scalable distribution of the past, but I agree with your point that ‘engagement’ requires more resources to be involved in responding, triaging, and measuring.  Engagement, while needed in today’s modern business, is not scalable.  

  13. Edward, good point on scalable distribution of the past, but I agree with your point that ‘engagement’ requires more resources to be involved in responding, triaging, and measuring.  Engagement, while needed in today’s modern business, is not scalable.  

  14. Thanks Charles.  While you’ll finding smatterings of those in my 2500+ blog posts, I have a report coming out soon on how companies must get ready internally.  

  15. Thanks Charles.  While you’ll finding smatterings of those in my 2500+ blog posts, I have a report coming out soon on how companies must get ready internally.  

  16. Thanks Charles.  While you’ll finding smatterings of those in my 2500+ blog posts, I have a report coming out soon on how companies must get ready internally.  

  17. We have embassies and consulates around the world who are working very hard to customize their communities and content for the local culture and language.  We have already seen these changes manifest in more community engagement and better quality feedback from the public.

  18. I agree to your site because very information i hope do not stop your job…
    THANK YOU,,,

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  20. While you specifically reference that this is not related to personal accounts that an employee could take with them, there are many relevant points for the financial services market where things are a bit different.  Firms are looking at rolling out social media to thousands of users (advisors, agents, etc.). Due to the nature of these firms (regulation, compliance, risk, etc.), the firms have to consider many of the same issues that you list for the savvy social strategists. Financial services firms are coming to social media later than many other verticals, but they are tackling interesting challenges like aligning an organization around provisioning, educating, training and measuring results with thousands of employees that are representatives of the corporate brand but also their individual brands as financial services professionals and the relationship managers to the customers/clients.

  21. Many people who has the capability to give rise to sources easily via email. In addition to monitor the amount of efforts coming from everyone in company.

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