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Wanted: Social Media Policy

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 23, 2010 04:30 PM

Many, if not most, brands today are grappling with the social Web. Some insights can be found in Digital Brand Expressions' new study on companies’ use of (and wish list for) social media.

Surveying executives from 100 companies, the market researcher found that while 78% of respondents' companies are actively using social media, although only 41% reported that these activities are executed through a corporate social media plan.

As for companies with a social media plan in place, 94% include marketing within the plan, but only 16% include human resources or recruiting activities. Companies without strategic plans think it's important to create one, and list allocating resources for social marketing as their top priority.

The confusion should come as no surprise. As last week's Corporate Social Media Summit in New York indicated, companies and brands are testing a variety of approaches, from in-house to agency to a mixture of both, with social media policies as varied as the companies themselves.

Digital Brand Expressions CEO Veronica Fielding commented, "It's fairly well established that social media is a channel that businesses must participate in, leaving CEOs with the new challenge of planning and implementing brand aligned initiatives enterprise-wide. This leaves the majority of organizations exposed to problems arising from employees saying the wrong things in the wrong ways to the wrong people at the wrong time.”

This leaves a majority of companies “shooting from the hip, with no cohesive game plan or measurement systems in place. Even among those with a plan, few have written policies and communications protocols in place, leaving the organization exposed to problems arising out of employees communicating in ways that inadvertently hurt -- rather than help -- their company brands.” 

A lack of clear internal accountability leaves many companies in confusion: 74% of respondents think marketing departments should be responsible for creation and maintenance of strategic social media plans; while 51% said corporate communications teams should have that charge; and 28% said executive teams should lead all social efforts.

Seems like social media has yet to be socialized in mainstream corporate America.


Josh Pearlstein United States says:

When 78% of respondent's companies are using social media actively, what were these requirements?  Were they posting once or twice a week?  Were they just posting, or were they actually engaged in the conversation? I can see how this can easily be a headache for companies, because of how vital timing is to the social media process.

Also, when you discussed who should take accountability, did anyone discuss hiring a new department?  Are we every going to reach a point in time where social media/digital media consists of an entire department made up of people that are constantly learning and adapting to the latest in social media.

June 23, 2010 05:05 PM #

S.Shayon United States says:

Thanks for your salient questions. If you check out the Digital Brands Expression website you will find more detail.
I think dedicated departments is a good idea - what would you call it and to whom would it report?
S. Shayon

June 23, 2010 09:27 PM #

Josh Pearlstein United States says:

Maybe the "Department of Digital Medium".  The director would report to the CEO so the company's brand image is presented properly.  Also, they should have clear communication with the marketing department as to not step on each other's toes.

June 23, 2010 09:37 PM #

Veronica Fielding United States says:

I like the idea of a department responsible for helping the company stay abreast of social media strategies, techniques and tools and I think it's also important for organizations to think more broadly about social media as a communications channel that could be leveraged for every department that interacts with the company's external stakeholders, for example, customer service/support, HR, etc.  

Our survey showed marketing departments taking the lead right now because, I think, most of the conversations in the social space, for most companies, are marketing oriented.  That will change over time as companies develop policies and communications protocols (if/then scenarios) and help employees in departments beyond Marketing, PR and Corporate Relations communicate through 3rd party sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

June 24, 2010 02:47 PM #

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