This blog post is part of my course Social Media Strategist at Social Media Academy which I previously blogged about here.

Cross Functional Social Media in Business. Why?

Photo: BiT.

Early in this class it stood clear that Social Media is not about places and spaces, or even tools, but about people and the conversations you have with them. So, to be where the people who talk about you are is paramount, you cannot choose these places yourself. But in addition to that, in order to have meaningfull conversations, you need to have the right people there. Because it is obvious that different people have different needs and if only people from one department of your organization, it is likely they cannot answer all the questions. And if you are very active you set the expectations high and when you do not deliver the fall will be greater.

It’s like telling a painter to only use green (okay, there are some famous blue works).

Colouring pencils.jpg
Photo: MichaelMaggs. License:CC-BY-SA-3.0

So are your organization super talented and able to create monochromatic masterpieces or do you think you might have use for all the colours in the palette? Chances are you belong to the latter group and that is why you should implement a cross functional use of  Social Media in your business. Or do you want a marketing resource answering engineering questions on Twitter or an engineer answering sales questions in the LinkedIn group? If you cannot give relevant answers it makes you irrelevant and people will stop listening to you and forget about you.

But it is obviously hard to go all-in and apply good use all over your organization which leads to the following question:

Which implementation order do you think it is most likely to render a success?







11 thoughts on “XFSMiB

  1. Nancy Leonard:

    Jan, the colored pencils concept/analogy is so creative. Fascinating. I very much enjoyed reading your post. Kept my interest to the end…and wanting more.

    Extra kudos to you for writing so well in English. It’s challenging enough when English is your first language. LOL.


  2. Axel Schultze:

    Like Nancy said – very creative :) Didn’t Henry Ford say “We produce in any color as long as it is black?” Well – Ford wouldn’t be around if they would stick to black.
    Great question about the order. I have two experiences and both worked out well:

    1) Case A
    We looked where the biggest pint points were. In this case customer support. So we started there. The adjacent organization was sales and so sales was No.2 from here to product management and marketing was the last department in that chain of engagement.

    2) Case B
    The CMO felt it is most effective to make a parallel engagement:
    a) starting with the top management team from each department and nail a plan
    b) train a a crew of team members from each department but all together
    c) Have “ambassadors” from each team work together on the strategy
    d) Involve different type of customers some are more service related, some more tech, some more marketing and work together on strategy, plans and execution.
    e) gradually grow as a team, with customers into this new world.
    This was a very successful strategy too.

    Good post :)

  3. Sue Ann Fattorusso:

    Diversity is key. I am all for a polychrome masterpiece! ;)

    Quote by Michel de Montaigne: “There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity”

    1. Jan Ainali:

      Nice that you are quoting de Montaigne because he also sad one of my favorite quotes: “I quote others only in order the better to express myself.”

  4. Andrew Maher (@serviceplease20):

    Jan, your post is short and to the point. Lands right on the key problem here. Companies cannot dictate social engagement, and nor should they. As long is was only brick & mortar or phone lines that worked. Social opens this up to a plethora of opportunities. Whether they like to hear this or not, it really doesn’t matter. The customer runs this story. Great post.

  5. wendy soucie:

    Jan, loved the metaphor for colors and painting. Recently used similar reference in a presentation. My answer to your last question is, clean the website up first to prepare a landing pad for your social sites and then start with a blog.

    Wendy, SMBMAD 2009
    Xeesm. Com/wendysoucie

  6. Christian Goffi:

    Nice post Jan, this is certainly a good metaphor to use as it relates very well with how we live our lives so why should social media handling be any different. I also liked the length of your post… attention span considerations are great so I liked that you opened with an easy to grasp concept and you opened it up to opinions. very engaging format. well done.

  7. Tevia White:

    I like the metaphor. It’s a great question, and I’m curious to see some of the responses you get. Nice post, Jan!

  8. Des Walsh:

    Jan, as you know I answered your question on Quora. On the matter of cross-functional engagement, I think it likely that in most organisations the marketing people or “communications” people, or however described, are going to be more comfortable with managing their communication on social platforms and may even be
    quite enthusiastic about the idea. Others may need some special encouragement. Crucially, and especially for those in the company who are not used to direct contact with the “outside world” and maybe never dreamed it would be asked or expected of them, there needs to be some explicitly stated “right to fail” (apart probably from gross stupidity or deliberate sabotage), with that endorsed and supported in practice by the company’s leadership. Otherwise you are going to find people “otherwise engaged”, “dealing with deadlines” etc.

    1. Jan Ainali:

      Thanks Des for your comments, I totally agree with you about the “right to fail”. This seems to be something hard for companies to get, since it also in R&D is an active discussion, to innovate you must be allowed to fail.

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