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April 15, 2014

Social Media: It Takes a Village

By Karen J. Bannan

Late last month the web was abuzz about a new program launched by W Hotels, a professional social media concierge service for New York-based brides and grooms. The program, designed to put a the betrothed’s best face forward, covers creation and posting of content for a number of social media outlets including Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Vine. The $3,000 service even includes a custom hashtag and “guest encouragement.” While many have bemoaned the offering as over the top, W Hotels is on to something: It’s crucial to have a plan in place for a new launch, whether it’s a product, a service or a new couple. And for most organizations that means having the right internal and external communication and collaboration tools in place.

Many organizations fail to acknowledge that there’s more to social media than simply hiring a social media expert or training existing employees to post and tweet. Social media needs to be part of the entire conversation from the R&D process to setting up customer service to marketing to press relations. It takes input from all of these functions – in addition to legal, human resources and sales – to create a solid social media campaign. Those who do this best have an internal collaboration framework in place so that all of these teams can inform and help the others when a campaign is in the works.

Of course, it takes some work to get buy-in for such an effort. Elaine Young, a Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing Professor at The Stiller School of Business at Champlain College recently posted an article that talks about getting buy-in for social media marketing. She suggests creating a pilot program that brings together a company’s innovators and early adopters who can prove the business model of such a program. In the beginning, this may mean taking one or two people from every department to work on your social media program. Once they see the value in such a program, it’s easier to get buy-in from the rest of an organization. Explains Young: “There will always be laggards, but when you get the majority, you are well on your way to buy-in that will lead to more and more success and integration of social media marketing in your organization.”

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