Who do your social media briefs come from?
This is still one of the questions I’m most frequently asked at 1000heads. Because the need for social communication crosses organisational barriers, our new business pipeline remains uniquely varied; although many enquiries come from PR, marketing and digtial teams, we’re also approached by product development, IT, HR, customer service and CEOs.
But this ‘democratic’ aspect of social, along with the truism that everyone in a business needs to take responsibility for valuing and implementing social practices, can obscure a simple fact.
Although everyone should be involved in social, someone needs to take ownership.
New data from Silverman Research and Unilever strongly suggests that the right people may not be taking responsibility for acquiring and evangelising social in their business. The ‘Social Media Garden’, an open-access online network, crowdsourced the opinions of 644 people from more than 30 countries on how they use social media at work and why organisations aren’t making the most of them. And there were some clear indications that ownership is at the heart of the problem.
Take HR. You’d think that HR professionals would be jumping on the chance to spearhead social, which is profoundly changing the way people interact with their work and each other. Yet although 51% of participants said that their organisation had embraced online networks for use in people practices, only 31% thought that HR was best placed to take the lead on using it.
The implication was that HR sees social as a threat and is ill-equipped to lead its adoption in a positive way. Company director Phil Woodford, a top commentor in the study said: “Social media is profoundly democratic. This takes power away from managers, marketers, HR professionals and others within the organisation, which might be expected to sponsor its growth. Business owners and managers who are resistant to change probably won’t be convinced and there’s little that can be done to shape their attitudes. The world will simply change around them.”
This highlights a wider problem: lack of senior leadership. 81% believed that the successful implementation of social media is an issue of leadership rather than technology.
As another top commentor in the study said, “I think in the end it’s not about designating one person from a team over another but about collaborating and getting the support from Senior Leadership. If the CEO isn’t supporting SM then it needs to start there. Convince Senior Mgmt and the rest will fall into place thanks to their support and them engaging the employees.
Mike’s already talked about the importance of the C-Suite in leading social, but it doesn’t necessarily matter who takes ownership of the strategy. A charismatic retail manager who really believes in the efficacy of social could have much more success than a lacklustre and threatened CEO. But if that is the case, that retail manager needs to be given the authority, resources and support to properly own and action their strategy.
The buck has to start – and stop – with specific, named, knowledgable individuals, even though hundreds of others may be deeply involved. That may sound a bit anti-social, but it’s quite the opposite.