Understanding the Social Media Department

By Brooks Briz, David Rose

The social media department typically lives in the confines of the advertising or marketing departments. If you are seeking a job in this field, you had better get to know these departments well.

Ultimately, social media deals with two things:

  • Information

  • Communication

Information and communication can come from current customers, prospective customers, competitors, stakeholders, vendors, the community that you serve, the community that you don’t serve, and virtually everyone else in between.

The value of social media comes from the synthesis and analysis of the information and communication that happens on the social media networks themselves. The social media department’s job is to figure out how the components that they see can make all departments more efficient.

Winning friends and influencing departments

Because social media revolves around information and communication, it touches most business segments, including

  • Marketing and advertising

  • Sales

  • Customer service

  • Executive management

  • Operations management

  • Accounting

  • Finance

  • Information technology

For example, customer service is impacted because you can use information gathered from social media to improve internal customer support systems. Information such as customer feedback and comments offer insight about buying habits and tendencies. Sales can use social media information to hone in on better customer acquisition and retention.

You can use customers’ email addresses to strengthen the marketing, advertising, IT, sales, and customer service departments:

  • Plug email addresses into Facebook and find out what types of Facebook pages your customers like. Put the information into a spreadsheet so you can see different attributes and interests to target on Facebook’s advertising software when creating advertisements.

  • Plug the customer email addresses into Facebook’s advertising to create a lookalike audience that automatically targets users with similar demographics and user habits.

  • Plug email addresses into Twitter so you can follow and engage with current customers; this interaction helps you add more information to your customer profile database (if applicable).

Social media can impact an organization in so many ways. Figure out how you can benefit other departments and give them the information that they care the most about.

Using social media in unexpected ways

Don’t hesitate to offer social media know‐how beyond your expected responsibilities. Your social media skills come in handy other times:

  • Shortterm or ongoing projects: Brands often create projects that fulfill a business need, conduct research, or develop future products and services. The projects need input from multiple parts of a business. As a social media pro, you can provide the information and communication for pulling off internal initiatives. For example, you can bring real comments and feedback from social media customers when you’re developing new products or evaluating how effective consumers find a new service.

  • Task forces: In crisis mode, or when an urgent need has to be met, temporary task forces are put into place to handle the issue. For example, if a company puts out a product that negatively impacts consumers, the company may need multiple professionals (public relations, advertising, legal, accounting, and social media, for example) to help handle the repercussions.

  • Committees: A company’s continuous improvement might be handled by committee. For example, a committee may be evaluating the way they ship their products. You can fill in the rest of the company on surveys that customers have taken via social media. You can share feedback and relay suggestions made by consumers.

  • Community initiatives: A company’s main goal is to make money and improve stakeholder returns, but great companies contribute value to their communities. As a social media pro, you might become a part of a community group because you have your finger on the pulse of how online communities think and feel about a brand. In fact, you might become instrumental in this role, because you can bridge online and offline relationships by meeting your customers and local social media influencers through local gatherings.