Large Businesses to Formalize Social Media Role

In the beginning, social media was viewed as a strategy best navigated by smaller, nimble companies. But as this format gains acceptance from a broader range of consumers, large established companies have begun to explore the best ways to implement social media programs. A new Ketchum report outlines how these large companies use social media and where they see it going in their organizations.

Large companies are often cautious and want to avoid making a misstep in a very visible way. They are advised to have the following two problems covered before they begin with social media:

  • Make sure that the social media effort is ongoing and not linked to a unique event like a product launch.
  • Have a social media crisis plan in place to limit any damage to corporate reputation in case of any unfortunate events.

In addition, social media may have started as an experiment by the marketing department in larger organizations. But these experiments are rapidly formalizing. While the social media effort is typically under management by the marketing department, collaboration with other departments has increased.  Communications, legal and IT are also playing a role as organizations attempt to strategize and plan for the future while taking this disruptive technology into account.

Ketchum survey respondents also note that they are officially funding social media programming. The most typical expenditures range from  5–15% of communications budgets being allocated for this purpose. But for the most part, social media is not a line item in the marketing budget. These expenditures are funded on a project by project basis.

Participants in this survey say, for now, there is no one way to measure the return on investment in social media. But managers intend to find a way to evaluate and measure quality and quantity. In addition, these established organizations are frequently tapping younger staff members with technical knowledge to lead the social media charge and are also turning to outside agencies as necessary. Managers believe social media is just another channel for marketing, but one that’s important to get right.

[Source: 2010 FedEx/​Ketchum Social Media Benchmarking Study. 2010. Web. 5 Jan. 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.