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Social Media is No Longer Just for the Marketing Department

September 18, 2014

By Mae Kowalke,
TMCnet Contributor

At first, social media was a brand opportunity for businesses, and just about every corporate foray into social media came from the marketing department or corporate communications. But as social media has matured, it has begun to encompass much more than just marketing.

Social media is now at the center of the relationship between businesses and their customers. This encompasses marketing and brand management, but it also includes customer service; consumers are increasingly reaching out to businesses via social channels when they have an issue or question. Handling this part of the social media conversation requires more than just the marketing department—it requires customer support, too.

That’s why many leading contact center solution providers, such as Five9 (News - Alert), have integrated social media into their solutions. But even though many contact center solutions now engage with customers via social media, there’s still the problem of businesses recognizing that social media is not just the domain of the marketing department.

While 73 percent of organizations in an International Customer Management Institute (IMCI) study earlier this year reported that they had an active social media presence, only 52 percent reported that the contact center now owns or co-owns responsibility.

“Brands do face some challenges when attempting to broaden the scope of social response,” noted Richard Dumas of Five9 in a recent blog post. “Two top challenges include: 1) sorting out organizational roles and responsibilities and 2) developing an effective process for how to respond.”

Moving from marketing to broader role with social media requires five actions on the part of business, according to Dumas. These include building a cross-functional team, observing what’s currently being said on social media by listening to the chatter, building a new process, monitoring social channels better and reporting, and optimizing based on this monitoring.

The most key aspect is having a team that is cross-functional.

“Since social media response tends to span multiple departments, it’s important to develop a forum for planning and implementation that crosses departmental boundaries,” noted Dumas. “Many organizations start by setting up a tiger team comprised of managers from the key departments.”

Once that is in place, the next step is watching the interactions that take place on social media to get a sense for what is being said and where a business should allocate its energy.

Once the needs are clear, firms should develop a playbook on how to respond to various types of social media communications so each department handles its role and all communications get the attention they deserve by the right department.

And of course, this then means monitoring the processes and adjusting them as needed.

Companies that are still using social media for marketing and public relations are behind the times. It is time to get the contact center involved and develop a more nuanced approach to social media.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi