Social Media Listening Can Make You Modify Your Organization

Written in collaboration with Joe Hughes, @jphughes3

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Organizations that actively listen to customer conversations in social media quickly realize that some of their roles, responsibilities and organizational design need to change in order to gain real benefit from their listening investments.

First, you might realize that you really only need one listening team with one toolset, and one process for feeding insights to the rest of the organization. Then the question arises, “Which department should own those people?” Should they work in Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, or somewhere else?

Marketing likes to market; they don’t like to respond to customer complaints, and they don’t tend to respond to active leads. Customer Service does not have ability to resolve a bug in your product, and Sales is not going to fix issues in your marketing message when you find that your audience needs to hear an important message. Even so, it probably will not make sense to create a new department, so the final home for this team will vary by organizational design, culture and needs.

Second, you will find this team gathering information and discovering insights that need to be fed to many different parts of the organization. For example, when you discover that your product is over-priced, or consumers don’t like the way it looks, the listening team needs a defined process for routing the information to the folks who can resolve, handle or otherwise address the opportunity. After all, the real work lies in addressing the findings from social media listening, and that work occurs in areas such as Product Development, Recruiting and Sales, in addition to Marketing or Customer Service.

Third, you will soon find that the listening team and everyone they serve will greatly benefit when you blend classic contact center skills with new media savvy: bring together some call center, email, chat, tech support, and social crm players.

While Marketing and PR have historically been the early adopters of social media within organizations, and the listening staff are often first hired within the Marketing group, many Marketing leaders decide that they do not want to own the cross-functional work of filtering and routing social media insights across the organization. And that’s OK, but it may mean a change of organization or job activities for the social media analysts.

On the bright side, technologies are emerging that will help your listening team route their findings to the correct internal teams, which significantly helps to scale the ROI of your social media listening capability.

If you would like to discuss more ideas for using social media at scale in your organization, please contact me any time.

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