Top 10 Social Business Questions in 2013

4) What roles & governance do we need to put in place?

It’s widely recognised these days that social isn’t just a marketing thing after all; but rather it impacts every business area, including internal comms, HR, R&D and particularly customer service. Debates about who ‘owns’ social are therefore less common now, as the reality is everybody owns it; and efforts can be led initially by anyone who stands up, grabs it and has the ability to galvanise cross-functional troops.

A best practice approach to governance that’s catching on is establishing a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for social business that sits at the heart of the organisation. The CoE becomes the go-to place for best practice, learning and guidance on all things social within the company.

The CoE typically has responsibilities such as:

- Social business strategy & alignment
- Governance
- Education & training
- Shaping & sharing best practice
- Driving internal adoption
- Adapting and creating new processes
- Acquiring tools

It’s isn’t about centralised control – it’s about supporting people who want to get involved in social. The more people you involve internally, the greater scale you can achieve, so it’s important not to quash well-intentioned efforts, but to guide them in the right direction, help them succeed and spread learnings throughout the organisation.

In terms of specific roles required, a mix might include:

Community Manager

Community Managers are often an early hire, as it’s one of the most important social business roles. All communities tend to need a high degree of facilitation to make be successful, particularly in the early days when customer participation is low.

Community management used to be viewed as a relatively junior task – and some assumed any graduate would automatically ‘get’ social and be able to perform this function.

These days it’s recognised as a highly skilled and complex role. Not only does the community manager serve as the external face of the business, but they’re the glue that makes communities work: part evangelist and spokesperson, part user support, part facilitator, part creative, part strategist. It’s a broad role, with responsibilities that can include:

- Developing social media strategies to support business goals
- Community development, management and moderation
- Platform management
- Colleague development & training
- Content management & planning
- Crisis management
- Social media policy development

The most important attributes of all are 1) being an excellent writer and communicator – which is why journalists can make great community managers; and 2) bags of common sense and good judgement – with the ability to make fast decisions about what to say (or not say) under pressure.

The Community Manager typically needs open lines of communication with legal, PR, R&D, marketing… almost every business function; in order to answer questions and participate in conversations in near real time.

Social business strategist / head of social business

This role is akin to a head of innovation, responsible for leading the social business journey and the CoE team. They typically influence the overall strategic direction of the business, while translating existing business goals into social strategies and roadmaps.

Key attributes are likely to include a commitment to continuous self-education and solid thought leadership clout – as these people must continuously learn and apply new knowledge to their organisations to drive results and change. They typically talk about business problems, not tools – in fact too much talk about technology platforms and social media solutions often rings alarm bells in a job interview for this role.

This is a tricky post to fill, as it requires broad expertise across many business functions.

A head of social business also needs a thick skin, bags of vision and great powers of persuasion, as they’re likely to have a lot of senior, diverse stakeholders to get onside in order to make things happen.

Social analyst

The key is in the name – these people are analytical, rigorous, detail-orientated types that enjoy pulling insights from large amounts of data and diligently tracking and measuring activities. They’re responsible for monitoring and reporting on social media activity.

Their responsibilities might include:

- Monitoring social media channels and structuring responses that are in line with the business strategy
- Mapping ROI on social media campaigns and social business journeys
- Posting on social networks and managing workflow to ensure timely responses
- Planning and strategising campaigns
- Tracking and reporting on content
- Studying target audiences and offering plans on how social media will work best for the business
- Identifying issues and concerns that may affect the brand or profit

Social researcher / head of social insight

Having someone who can develop your organisation’s social insight capability will both deepen your understanding of customer need and your responsiveness to change.

Business is becoming increasingly insight-driven; and finding somebody who understands how to make this happen in a way that enables the organisation to compress the clockspeed of everything they do is key to becoming ‘agile’, not to mention becoming truly customer driven.

A senior insight expert will typically lead the social analyst and take responsibility for areas such as:

- Social media monitoring strategy development and execution
- Platform selection and vendor management
- Development and rollout of insight / BI dashboards
- Embedding social insight into strategic decision-making processes, to increase effectiveness and agility
- Insight-based social media strategy, content and campaign development
- Social segmentation
- Creating and shaping customer communities and insight panels

Traditional research is typically broad brush and periodic, whereas an innovative social researcher will take you towards a future that really puts the customer at the heart of everything you do – micro-segmenting customer groups and developing real-time response to changing customer needs… all integrated with traditional capabilities.

Other roles include content strategy and production, developers & systems integrators, internal community managers / collaboration leads, adoption managers and social media strategists. It’s a good idea to establish some kind of ‘skunkworks’ – a group of natural innovators who love new stuff and will road test emerging tools, run pilots and embed new capabilities that add value.

Often neglected skills in larger organisations are those you’ll find in any Silicon Valley tech startup like Technical Marketing (optimising the sales funnel, driving user acquisition & retention and increasing LTV via SEM, SEO, content strategy, social media, campaigns, customer development, A/B testing, virality, Open Graph, landing pages, partnerships, referral, affiliates and email); and user experience design (customer profiling, user journey mapping and optimisation, front-end multi-platform design, copywriting, workflow, touchpoint optimisation).

Overall, when it comes to governance, it’s worth remembering this simple rule:

Simple rules = complex behaviour
Complex rules = stupid behaviour

Governance should be light touch (supportive, inspiring, educating); not heavy-handed (clamping down, enforcing, policing). The difference can often be subtle, so a good deal of emotional intelligence is required to shimmy everyone in the right direction.

An inspiring vision that serves as a centre of gravity around which everything and everyone aligns is a good place to start; alongside a few clear first steps that make it easy to begin.

Social business adoption is almost always voluntary – and change happens on an individual level. It’s about light bulbs switching on in people’s heads, one by one, as they realise it can make their job better, easier and more satisfying – as oppposed to thinking ‘geez not another thing to log into that I’ll probably lose my password for and never visit again’.

More on adoption later in this series.

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