Social Organizational Architecture

When it comes to figuring a company’s social architecture around social — where a social media team should reside in a company, there are several options, such as:

  • Centralize approach –  One team manages all social media activities
  • Decentralized / Silo’d – Each BU owns their own Social Media P&L
  • Coordinated – One social media team tries to make sure everyone is aligned, but has no accountability
  • Hub and Spoke model  Centralized but consists of members from each BU — and each BU representative is has dotted line into BU and Social Media Team
  • Hub and Spoke model without the dotted line reporting – Everyone sits in one group and reports to the lead Social Media person

My old company, Intuit handled it several different ways:

  • In the early Web 2.0 days, only one group was really being social and that was the online community team
  • In the mid Web 2.0 days, there was Hub and Spoke Model with dotted line reporting for each  social media managers – reported to BU and to Social Media Lead
  • And now, Social Media seems to have adopted a decentralized model with each BU owning  activities on external social networks (this has led to duplication of programs, inconsistency in messaging, etc.) (Note: I am no longer with the company, so I might have my info wrong)

My recommendation for companies to  is the ‘Hub and Spoke model’ with each BU having a Social Media Captain being dotted line into the lead Social Media person. Why the dotted line? This holds the business units accountable, gets them to provide resources, and it becomes part of their op mechs and it ensures that Social is part of every aspect of the group: Cusotmer Service, Product Development, Marketing, etc.

These Social Media Captains should:

  • Coordinate all social media efforts within their own BU: Cust Serv., Product Management, Marketing, etc.
  • Integrate social media metrics into their own BU’s dashboard

The main Social Media Team should drive:

  • Guidelines for the company
  • Policies, Training, metrics definitions, technology evaluations, best practice sharing
  • Crisis Management (Preemptive and Responsive)
  • Coordination with non-Bus Units (finance, legal, privacy, etc.)
  • Primary social media dashboard: primary objectives and KPIs

Some requirements to make this Hub and Spoke dotted line approach sucessful include (based on my experience at Intuit):

  • Top down support  (CMO, etc.)
  • BU Leader’s support
  • Extensive information sharing with BU leaders
  • Fully dedicated Social Media captain assigned to each BU
  • Integrate Social Media learnings/results into BU dashboard
  • Monthly reports – dashboard, successes/case studies, update on training, industry trends, etc.

It is important to note that a company’s culture should be an important factor in deciding which is the right model. Almost all the companies I have worked with have been very open to trying new org models out and have been very democratic in their approach. A few years ago, though, I worked with a company that was more top – down and where the business units wanted complete control of the marketing mix. So, it is important to think about how any of the above models would fit into your current environment.

More on this topic.

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