Social Media Melding: Marketing and Customer Service Collaborate

Are you thinking about where social media monitoring and management fits into your business? The inclination in most organizations is to put it into marketing or public relations. But is that the right move?

I recently spoke with Ross Daniels, Director of Marketing for Cisco (s csco), about the challenges of deploying social media monitoring and management tools inside a larger enterprise. I’d spoken with Daniels about Cisco’s SocialMiner, a product that companies can use to capture, analyze, prioritize and take action on consumer posts in social media channels. The application is not aimed at the marketing function but instead focuses on customer service, customer support and sales in the social media ecosystem.

One of the first things companies should do before deploying any software solution to help harness social media activities and actions, says Daniels, is to make sure social media is positioned — or repositioned — as residing between marketing and customer service. If customer service and marketing aren’t talking to each other, there is a high likelihood that social media marketing efforts will fail. Customer service is built for listening and for scaling and can be an integral “pillar” alongside marketing to manage social media.

Here are some suggestions for managers to consider to pave the way for more effective social media management that came out of my conversation with Daniels.

  1. Connect customer service with marketing. Start making introductions between departments to establish a more collaborative relationship if it doesn’t already exist. The heads of both your marketing and customer service departments should meet regularly. Marketing plans should be shared with — and can even be enhanced by — customer service. Each side should know how to use social media to not only fulfill their own goals but to help one another to get closer to reaching overall company goals.
  2. Assign dedicated staff to social channels. Pick or train people who can develop an expertise in social media engagement and response in social channels. Consider representatives from both marketing and customer service or a shared liaison. Cross pollinate social media activities so no single department — or person — holds the responsibilities.
  3. Measure results together. As expectations are high for tangible returns on social media marketing investments, bring customer service in to help measure, analyze and tell the story of how social media is effective for the company. The measurements and analysis customer service already does will bring value to the analysis of social media. Both departments can contribute to generating reports and presenting findings.
  4. Mine social media for more than sentiment. Instead of just looking for the positive, negative and neutral of what customers are saying about a company’s product or service, look for clues to how the public perceives the company as a whole. Social media can be used to identify places within an organization where there are silos hindering cross-departmental communications and other operational issues. Use the findings in social media channels to make functional improvements in how the company works, not just what they offer.

As you manage, monitor and respond to social media activity around your company and brand, make sure to spread the awareness and responsibilities across multiple departments. When it comes to social media, operating in silos can be the kiss of death. Social media can also help identify and break down silos, but these changes must be articulated as a core shift in both internal and external communications and interactions. Present social media not as yet another burden for someone to add to their already overloaded work day but as an inherent change in the way the company communicates with the public and within its own walls.

Where do social media responsibilities reside within your organization, and how is that working?

stock xchng image from user svilen001

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