Your customers, prospects, and the people looking for you online don't care about your company structure. If they find you on Twitter, or leave a comment on your blog, they're looking for a response from anyone who can help, regardless of what department that person represents or what someone's official job title is.
Everybody in your company is in marketing, whether they want to be or not.
The people in your company today should have the characteristics and confidence to succeed in this environment. Let the ubiquity and speed of communication empower your staff to act and be helpful, no matter where they are on the organizational chart.
Social media and real-time business affects every employee in your organization in some way. Your official social media team-the people tasked with developing and maintaining your social outposts and real-time customer connectivity-are a critical part of your approach. But the rest of your employees are equally important to consider, as many of them will have to incorporate some measure of new responsibilities into their existing job functions.
Increadingly, social media needs to become a skill, not a job.
Here are five skills that should be present within as many people in your company as possible:
Brand Immersion and Representation
Once upon a time, the only people who really needed to "get" your brand were the ones who built its external facade: marketing, public relations, and corporate communications. Now you need to give everyone some guidelines but also the freedom to articulate and represent your company in their own authentic way.
Although only a small group of employees will likely be responsible for specifically measuring the impact of your social media initiatives, the best programs are those that share those metrics with all employees. (Imagine if the only person who knew the score of a football game was the coach.) Sharing that information can help people feel connected, feel invested in the outcome, and understand how their work is making a difference.
Having a finger on the pulse of how social media and the activity within it affects your company, your department, and your industry is a universal responsibility. Soon, it won't be enough to have just a centralized "listener" and you'll need each division and department (and the people within them) to be listening for their own unique purposes.
Internal Wiring and Story Harvesting
Your company must be able to communicate stories seamlessly whenever opportunities arise. It can be difficult to have enough breadth if just one or two people are seeking stories, so let everyone contribute, from the reception desk to the manufacturing floor to the IT department. Build great internal communication, and give people the tools to share ideas, experiences, and expertise.
Your social media representatives will do most of the online communication with your customers and prospects-but not all. The current is sometimes too swift and the river too broad for one or two social media specialists to manage all the online touch points. The rest of your team can help by knowing how and where and when to engage, too. Build education and training programs for those who want to get involved, and help them be part of the effort.
This is the second in a 7-week blog post series covering themes included in The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social - my new book with Amber Naslund, debuting February 1 (pre-orders and first chapter for free available now).