Often at big companies, there’s an assumption that “the social media team does social media.” But this is not true.
Your social media team works with groups throughout the company to ensure your social media is safe, effective, on-brand and compliant. Close relationships with teams like IT, Infosec, Security, Legal and Compliance are not only necessary but key to running a world-class social media operation.
Increasingly, large companies are formalizing these relationships with the creation of a Social Media Council to help oversee and govern big-picture social media decisions that require input from these key stakeholders. The larger, more matrixed and more global your company is, the more likely it is that your company would benefit from such a group.
So, what is a Social Media Council exactly?
If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, think of it like the corporate social media version of the Council of Elrond (the meeting where they decided to destroy the one ring). This meeting involved men, dwarves, elves, hobbits and a wizard. In other words, they gathered all of their key stakeholders in one place to have a high-level discussion and make a really big decision. That’s essentially what a Social Media Council does.
A Social Media Council does not get in the weeds. Council members don’t edit post copy or monitor comments. The Council’s remit should be big-picture, focusing on items that impact social media for the enterprise or things that need to be decided for the organization. A couple of examples:
- Tools: Rather than having individual groups across the company purchase tools, getting all stakeholders together and selecting one tool for the entire enterprise makes more sense. It also saves money and avoids siloed data. Bonus!
- Policies: Ensuring there is a company-wide Social Media Policy and that other related policies related to things like data protection are aligned.
- SOPs: Putting in place specific procedures that apply to the whole company where such things are needed. For instance, there should be a company-wide process for approval and starting a new social media account. There should be company-wide procedures for adding and removing users’ access from social media accounts. There should be company-wide rules for using images on social media.
- Branding: Just like all other aspects of your brand, ensuring your company shows up professionally and consistently on social media is equally important. There should be guidelines about which version of the logo to use, whether watermarks belong on photos, etc.
Who should be included?
Members of your Council will likely include:
You may also consider other groups like HR, Diversity & Inclusion, Investor Relations, Strategy and Sustainability as optional or occasional members of the Council, depending on the specific topics to be discussed at each meeting.
How do I start one?
If this is a brand new idea, start by talking with your direct leader about it. You’ll need to get a good amount of high-level buy-in and possibly an executive team sponsor to make it happen. The more buy-in you can get ahead of time, the easier it will be.
Even if your company is smaller, you may still benefit from forming a Council or similar group that meets regularly. Regardless of the size of your company, building good relationships with folks like Legal and HR won’t hurt. But for large matrixed companies, it’s rapidly becoming a best practice.
Don’t forget you need a communications plan as well. Once the Council is formed, you’ll need a good way to explain it to others and also to communicate the Council’s decisions to everyone in your organization that manages the day-to-day operation of all social media accounts (including their agency partners).
Still not convinced?
Remember that consumers nowadays view the ability to communicate with companies via social media as a must have, not a nice-to-have. COVID only accelerated this trend. According to new research from Sprout Social, 35 percent of consumers expect brands to respond to social media inquiries within two hours. Note that they didn’t ask “do you expect companies to be available via social media?” Consumers assume companies are available.
And they will judge you on your response or lack thereof.
Author: Sue Serna
Sue Serna is the founder and CEO of Serna Social, a social media consulting agency focused on social media governance, risk, security and strategy. Sue is one of the nation’s top experts on social media safety and spent nearly nine years leading the global social media program for Cargill, one of the largest private companies in the United States. Sue pioneered many industry best practices that the world’s largest companies use to keep their social media footprints safe. In addition, Sue is an accomplished social media trainer and an established communicator with a passion for creating compelling content.