Structuring Social Media

The social media marketing phenomenon is changing the way companies communicate. How can organizations keep up with the increase in workload without hiring a dedicated social media staff or isolating social media to a few corporate Twitterati?

Social Fresh Charlotte, 2010Creating a social media management structure can empower an organization. According to the social media manager for SAS – and soon-to-be team-member at New Marketing Lab – Dave Thomas (@DavidBThomas), the following steps can help to develop a sustainable structure:

Build awareness

  • Find the right people: a social media effort needs both the evangelists and the skeptics. Seemingly unrelated constituencies from around the organization may be helpful (think human resources and legal advisors).
  • Figure out what’s important: What are the goals, risks, rewards, and consequences of a social media effort? What media channels are best suited to meet the goals and mitigate the risks?
  • Focus on recommendations: Build task forces around each of the channels to provide recommendations that can optimize content on each.

Build a framework

  • Put someone in charge: Decide who will be the lead social media evangelist in the organization and in which department (s)he will be housed. This person should be familiar with both social media and the organization’s culture.
  • Create guidelines: Guidelines and recommendations can encourage people to communicate on social media and provide opportunities for them to do it effectively. Policies should be clear and concise.
  • Communicate: Organizational policies should be communicated through all possible internal channels. Spotlight successes in the organization to raise awareness about good applications of social media.

Build a strategy

  • Define success: Articulating measurable goals create the opportunity for directed strategy.
  • Map social media to goals (as opposed to the other way around): The goals of an organization can be well-served through a variety of social media. We don’t need a social media branding strategy, we need a branding strategy that incorporates social media.
  • Give your people the tools: Templates, plans, and best practices should be shared in an organization. Find the best tools that will allow people to assess and monitor social media, and evaluate the costs and ROI.
  • Use what you have: Consider how to use the same intellectual property across channels and modes (video, podcast, whitepaper, slideshare, and more).We are all creating content that can be used in social media (For example, these notes could have just remained written in Sharpie on my legal pad, but look at them now – emblazoned in blog glory).


  1. John, great job summing up my presentation. Thanks very much. I’m a huge fan of this kind of rapid reportorial blogging from conferences. It provides so much more lasting value than a series of tweets.

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