Your PR team reads books and articles with titles like “Social Media for PR”. Your marketing team reads “Social Media for Marketing”. HR reads “Social Media for HR”. The developers or tech support teams may not be involved on purpose. Everyone gets stuck in their little worlds about what social media is for and what their role is.
Guess what? Your customers don’t see these roles as clear as you do. They see “This person works for Company X and therefore should be able/willing to solve my problem in some way”. That’s it.
Think of blogs, Twitter, etc. as hyperconnected cell phones. Anyone can find your number or where to find you. So if are in marketing mode and someone pings you on Twitter saying your technical support team dismissed their problem too soon, it doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Why? Because you could wake up, check your Google Alerts, and then find a nasty blog post pop up that not only mentions that your rep was bad, but that YOU are bad for ignoring their plea for help. All you had to do was tweet, “Please DM me your ticket number and I’ll have someone look into it.”
Having people in your organization on Twitter or blogging without connecting them to every part of your organization is like putting someone on a company phone system but not allowing them to transfer or even see the phone numbers of other people they work with. The more you advertise their phone numbers, the more issues you will face and the more you will look like a big jerk for not giving your social media team the information they need to help customers.
You aren’t in control of how you use social media–your audience is. They will use it for sales questions, bizdev questions, HR questions, tech support, or whatever random use pops in their head. They will use it to complain about you publicly. It’s great to think of social media engagement as a means for consumers to shape your brand, but it’s key to get your head out of the clouds and to be realistic. I as a consumer could care less about shaping your brand. I want your product or service to do what it is supposed to do for me in the most efficient way possible. Is your organization set up so that employees using social media can do this?
Here’s an example of how meetup.com angered my friend Dave Delaney by not having a specific crucial feature. Dave warned people of meetup.com, and then a Meetup VP actually reached out to Dave via email and phone. Could your social media team respond to this, or are they just pushing out smiley faces?
The lack of constraints involved with social media can give you a lot of freedom. There is also a lot of responsibility involved with that as well. In order to maintain a good reputation, it is crucial to give the kind of service that helps you earn that reputation. You aren’t going to be able to make this happen if your team members don’t even realize your social media people exist.