#1. Where does social media fit into your corporate structure?
Depending on who you talk to, or which publication you read, the answer will vary. Some folks believe that social media belongs under Marketing, others say it is purely a PR function, while some advocate it’s an extension of customer service or that it can do wonders for recruitment, thus making it an HR tool. Truth is, it’s usually all of the above depending on your reality and the resources in place. The real answer is usually not straight forward, and asking yourself that question can lead to unexpected answers. You will most likely find that social media impacts the company at various levels, yet some departments have more involvement and thus should take a greater stake in the strategy.
Determining where social media fits in your company also defines who ought to be accountable for it. Many hotels and airlines operate with a social media task force, in many cases made of customer service agents trained and able to address most questions and situations. It falls under Operations, or Customer Service, or even Marketing. But how can small & medium businesses (SMB) manage without dedicated resources? Here lies the biggest challenge, where it usually boils down to either finding a champion within the company or seeking help from external providers.
#2. Does your company have a social media policy in place?
Whether it’s the marketing folks, the lawyers, the IT guys or the PR specialists who “own” social media in your company, chances are almost everybody on your payroll is a potential brand advocate or detractor on their personal time. Of course, the line is always blurry between personal and professional, between work at home and personal time at work, specially nowadays with smartphones, laptop and being connected everywhere, all-the-time! Having said that, do you have a social media policy in place at your company? There are many varieties, but if you don’t have one I recommend you at least take a look at this social media policy tool which offers a pretty good template to start with. Or read this blog post on the matter.
#3. Outsource or DIY?
OK, so you know what you want to do, but you wonder who will do it? This is without a doubt the toughest question out there, that is: if we can’t do it ourselves, can we hire a freelance writer for our blog? Or perhaps ask an intern to manage our twitter account & Facebook page? Maybe the agency can look after some aspects our social media strategy implementation? Here again, there are no silver bullets and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. In most cases, outsourcing your social media execution to an intern, without proper knowledge of your brand, is a recipe for failure. But must you do it all by yourself? Not necessarily. There are pros and cons to outsourcing your social media marketing, you just need to make sure you are aware of all the options out there.
Start by seeking, within your own company, who’s already doing social. It may be a person working front desk, or a concierge, or perhaps a waiter working in the restaurant. If they are avid tweeps or bloggers, perhaps they could contribute to the corporate blog and help humanize its content by giving the “employee’s” perspective, thus enhancing the customer experience perspective of your destination or property. These same folks can contribute likewise to other social networks, depending on your strategy and its deployment.