In the past, you may have heard me say,”No one owns social media.” However, that doesn’t mean that different departments in your company aren’t trying to own it. Actions always speak louder than words.
I remember reading a post a year ago by Jeremiah Owyang that I thought was excellent. He outlined five ways that companies allowed their employees to participate in social media. I took the liberty of taking those five examples and tacking on my own perspective to illustrate how a few of the groups within an organization can try to own social media (as the company moves from stage one “no rules” through to stage five, which “empowers” the workforce).
Here are the five ways that Jeremiah outlined originally, with my added comments in bold regarding “ownership” in the organization:
- Employees have no rules, no guidelines and no policies. Just go out there and do it! Translation: No one wants to own social media and frankly this can be dangerous for the brand.
- Shut it Down: Protect the brand and protect the employees from any liabilities that may occur from “losing control” as a result of social networking. Translation: Legal and IT are trying to own social media. Regardless of this type of ownership, conversation will continue. Employees will talk after hours, on their Facebook or via Twitter feeds.
- The media trained spokesperson will be the only person who can blog and be involved in social media. This person already has the training and can represent the company. Translation: Corporate Communications is trying to own social media. This won’t work because social media is about open, human and transparent conversations. The trained media spokesperson doesn’t necessarily allow customers to interact with the people behind the brand and tends to speak with prepared statements.
- The corporate employees blessed for social media. A few select individuals will receive social media training and best practices Translation: Executive/Leadership, Corporate Communications and/or Human Resources are trying to own social media. Although the organization is willing to train certain “lucky” individuals, there are many other internal brand champions who want to engage and be trained the right way. There will be dissent in the ranks, if only a chosen few are able to participate, and other employees are banned from social communications.
- Empower the employees…the “all in” approach. Translation: This is the best way to handle social media within an organization. To empower, educate and have guidelines for the employees to participate; where there is buy in and trust from the top, and there is the willingness to participate and the right tools to engage on the bottom. Both ends meet in the middle with a great social media policy that frames out participation. In this scenario, many departments own social media and together, the organization finds value.
So, there you have it, five ways that clearly illustrate how some types of ownership are not beneficial. The last scenario, having everyone work together, is the best way to approach social media across the organization, with good guidelines, for a successful program.