The purpose of this post is to be a living document and industry reference on the topic of social media teams, as part as my ongoing coverage of corporate social media programs. This perspective stems from industry research and deeper client engagements, see other ‘breakdown‘ posts.
By definition, social business requires transformation within a company, resulting in leadership, program management, and a team to see this change through. In most cases, we see this team as a centralized resource that’s often cross-functional working closely with a number of corporate functions as well as business units ranging from product teams, geographies, the field, and departments. Without this team, the company will struggle to scale as different business units launch their own programs in a uncoordinated manner resulting in a fragmented customer experience, replication of duties, slow response in a coordinated manner, and a variety of tools, agencies, and vendors intersecting into the company.
Definition: The Corporate Social Media team is business program lead by a corporate social strategist that achieves business goals using social tools by coordinating with multiple business units across the enterprise.
Starting with Strategy
Before rolling out any team or putting job descriptions on the careers page, the leadership team and executive sponsors must ensure the right mindset and systematic rollout are in place. We find that many companies who are successful follow the following traits:
- Align with Corporate Goals –Not Social Media Goals. Don’t start with the aim of fans and followers instead first, have a business purpose that aligns with goals executives have already set, strategists should already know these, and then meld this new medium to these. Next, evaluate current skillset and resources including obtaining resources from existing teams. I typically see companies developing a business case, with a request for resources and executive blessing from a charter.
- Systematically Roll Out Program use Hierarchy of Needs. Companies who run and deploy blogs/communities/FB pages are at risk by not first getting ready. We found that advanced companies have deployed internal readiness such as governance, education, policies, process, and a roll-out program in a pragmatic method –not jumped to implementation. Read the Social Readiness report to learn more.
- To Scale, Let Go; Empower Business Units. Companies who reach a level of maturity often allow trusted and trained business units to implement their own social programs after aligning to the program charter of the social media team. This state allows business units to manage and deploy their program –encouraging scale and customization and speed at local levels.
Detailed Anatomy of Team
Altimeter found in a former survey of 144 global national corporations (read the full report) that the average composition of an enterprise class (over 1000 employees) company’s full time social media team is 11 professionals, often cross-functional. This research includes dozens of interviews and close interaction with Altimeter brand side clients who are leading these programs on a daily basis.
Note that in smaller teams, individuals may cover multiple roles, and in most cases these are cross-functional teams, as community managers may often come from product marketing, customer support, or corporate communications.
|Role||Primary Duty||What No One Tells You|
|Social Strategist||Leader and program manager,The program leader for social business, the strategist is responsible for overall vision and accountability towards investments. We’ve done a detailed study on the career path of the social strategist including demographics, psychographics, business goals and challenges.||Don’t hire an evangelist if they don’t have program manager chops. This individual must run a business program, and able to measure against real business results like: leads, sentiment, csat, customer support, and reduced costs.|
|Community Managers||Primarily outbound and customer-facing, this role is a trusted member of the community, serving as a liaison between the community and the brand. These are often the most under-appreciated professionals in the team as they deal with customer woes time off hours and some even suffer personally as they deal with customer angst.||Hire community managers that are balance brand enthusiasm with passion for customers –these are not PR pros that are on party message, but instead are trusted members of the community. Read the four tenants of the community manager to learn more. Celebrate these roles on Community Manager Appreciation Day.|
|Business Unit Liason||These internal facing members have a primary duty of reaching out to business units to get them to collaborate, get on board and often join a center of excellence. They may also represent a particular business unit, department, product line, or region. These are key conduits to maintaining relationships with many business teams, and are key for achieving enterprise coordination in scale.||As an interface inside of larger corporations, this role serves as an internal conduit to 1.5 coordinate efforts with other business units, in order to provide them with resources, as well as ensure consistency. Yet don’t let them talk to business units unarmed, they should have a checklist of requirements and slot in education manager to obtain consistency.|
|Education Manager||This often part-time role is designed to serve multiple business units and rank-and- .5 file employees in planning and organizing social media education, including best Manager! practices, policies, and resources||Seek an individual that knows both social technologies but is patient to teach executives, business program managers, the team and rank and file. Encourage them to work closely with existing education programs.|
|Social Media Manager||This professional will have several projects with fixed stop dates to manage and ongoing programs. This may include launching programs, managing campaigns, dealing with agencies, and keeping teams on timelines. They may work in corporate or with business units.||This individual is the engine of the team that keeps time, resources, and expectations aligned. Beyond finding social media expertise, look for project managers that have a background in operations or may be project managed certified.|
|Social Analyst||Using brand monitoring, social analytics, web analytics, and traditional marketing 1 tools, the social analyst is responsible for measurement and reporting across the entire program and for individual business units||This individual should be able to see the big picture of the forest and ascertain how social is impacting the customer experience and business beyond minute details.|
|Web Developer||The web developer typically already exists at the company, yet provides dedicated assistance to help plan, brand, configure, and integrate social technologies as stand- alone efforts, or into existing systems||Work with a developer that is capable of connecting disparate social technologies with existing enterprise systems. As social software suites become dominant, the need for data integration will become a strategic asset for corporations.|
|Content Strategist (new role)||This individual will coordinate content strategies across the enterprise, customers, and partners, spanning both advertising, corporate content and social media content.||Ensure this person is well read on Altimeter colleague Rebecca Lieb’s book on Content Marketing, and research report on same topic.|
|Digital Strategist||This role already existing in many corporations and will closely work with team to integrate social into all digital channels, both online, on TV, in real world and beyond.||Ensure this role knows that social can be a different medium and may require longer term efforts, dealing with negative content, and a rapid response team.|
|Agency Partners||Most companies rely on third party experts, both digital agencies and specialized social media agency of records. These teams can provide services for education, strategy, creative, content management, community management, analytics and beyond.||Over the coming period, expect that the social media agency of record (SMaoR) will start to vaporize as digital agencies offer similar offerings, acquire them, or social agencies offer ads.|
Not all teams are equal, and we’ve measured the sophistication of teams by maturation which is dependent upon culture, resources, duration, and team skills to navigate. While it’s difficult to put a team in a direct specific column, the following trends are common across the following maturation phases.
|Summary Description||Evangelism, Education, Catalzying Change||Program Formation, Coalescing, Coordination as a Central Resource||Empowerment of business units to succeed within established guidelines|
|Primary Focus Areas||Proving business case, wrangling business units, scrapping for resources||Managing interest from business units that may be out of control, or getting the entire org coordinate and on board. Still proving business case to executives and business units that are threatended||Company is on board, consistently, yet primary focus is integrating into existing business systems and optomization|
|Common Resources||Often a small scrappy team (3) of just a few folks, this team has a small budget and humble set of resources that likely include brand monitoring, social media management tools and online communities.||Typically, we see a larger increase of internal team size (8) there are more resources being applied to this program. At this phase, most companies launch centralized resources (often called a Center of Excellence) to serve the corporation.||Often a larger team size that we’ve seen grow beyond 20 folks in an FTE capacity this dedicated team is cross-functional, yet has consolidated leadership from a core function across the enterprise.|
|How to Drive Business Case||When pitching to executives, focus on three data points: 1) Social is a trend, not a fad 2) Our customers are using it (show data and anecdotes, 3) These are trusted conversations (show Edelman data) and we’re not actively involved.||Focus on risk of social media proliferation and social crises from risk of lack of coordination. Show cost benefit analysis of not conjoining a single program||Ensure programs are aligned with business objectives that executives are setting, if it’s market size increase, more leads, or better customer satisfcation, integrate into these existing programs.|
Prior Research and Web Strategy Resources
This has been my core research coverage over last few years, here’s some of my prior reports and resources, that span career paths, team orgs, tools, industry hires, and list of team leaders.
- Report: Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist.
- Report: Social Business Readiness.
- Careers: Running log of social business hires since 2007, see On the Move.
- Data: Composition of a Corporate Social Media Team (more details on this graphic)
- List of Corporate Social Strategists in 2012 (I’m struggling to keep this updated now, as this role is common in many companies)
Select Industry Resources
I read as much as I could that was already published online, here’s a few select resources for further insights.
- Building a Social Media Team Slideshare (Humana) by Amber Naslund of Radian6
- Building Your Internal Social Media Expert Team by J-P De Clerck
- Who should “own” social media at your company by HubSpot
- Data, published in 2012, from Spredfast report on Social Media team stats, by Spredfast
- Book The Social Media Strategist by Chris Barger (former-GM strategist now Voce)
- Smart Business, Social Business, Michael Brito (former-Intel strategist now Edelman)
- Diagram of Agency and Brand team working together by Vertical Measures
- Mashable on Define the Role of Your Social Media Team (JetBlue) by Erica Swallow
- Social Media Staffing and the Org Chart (put it everywhere) by Council and Support for Education Advancement
- Building your Social Media Team by Guy Clapperton
- Establishing A Centralized Social Media Management Model (with Diagrams) by Patrick Cummings
- David Armano has several diagrams ranging from org models, to center of excellence integration, David Armano
- On a humorous note, see org chart including a VP of Poking, by David Berkowitz of 360i
- Spredfast has a report with team breakdown via Jim Rudden, Spredfast
Future of Social Media Teams
In closing, these teams are dedicated units that are serving the corporation in a cross-functional manner. In time, they will give up much of the deployment in exchange for allowing business units to scale. Expect that these teams evolve or become subsumed into content strategy teams, digital marketing, or customer experience teams that span multiple channels and mediums, as they are already not limited to social channels.