A global social media strategy is missingA survey by US-based Digital Brand Expressions, ‘Social Media Without A Parachute‘, shows that a lot of companies integrate social media into their strategy without being properly prepared and without a clear plan. I suppose we don’t need a survey to know that.

It is not the first time that a lack of goals, planning, cross-divisional cooperation, and even a strategy regarding social media marketing shows up in a survey. The same goes for a clear social media policy and social media ROI efforts.

There is no reason to exclude social media marketing from a broader people-centric and cross-channel marketing framework, and to approach it as an ‘island’ stripped of any form of strategy. The fact that it does happen so often can be destructive for the company’s actions and reputation and it gives social media marketing in general a bad image as well.

Even more important: it often doesn’t provide any value whatsoever for the people using social media (and therefore, neither for the company).

Digital Brand Expression found that 78% of all participating companies ‘practice’ social media marketing in some form or another. Yet a mere 41% of those actually have a plan or social media strategy, in which is defined what the goals are, which functions are involved (marketing, HR, customer service,…), which division is doing what, how the company involves its employees, etc.

Still, 88% of the companies without a social media plan finds it important to actually have one. The conclusion is simple: a lot of companies aren’t ready for social media marketing because they don’t succeed in developing a coherent social media strategy as well as a clear plan that goes beyond the borders between different departments.

The silo-way of thinking, the walls between the various company divisions, a lack of coordination, and a bad insight into the possibilities of social media undoubtedly play a role in this. Recent studies that fruitlessly debated on just who within the company is responsible for social media (PR, marketing, etc…) pointed this out already.

Several key players are left out of the social media strategy and plan

The survey also looked at who is responsible for creating, carrying out, and maintaining a strategic social media communications plan (so not the actions themselves, but the plan) in the everyday working environment.

Social media without a parachute
Social media without a parachute

The marketing division takes the lead with 71%. Corporate communications scored 29%, while sales and IT are both good for 10%. The management team only scored 16%, which is a shame, since drawing a social media marketing strategic plan demands the executive team’s cooperation, in the very least.

Within the companies that do have a social media marketing plan, it turns out that quite a lot of divisions are barely included, if at all.With an impressive 94%, marketing is almost always involved in a social media plan. Public relations follows with 71%, while sales ended third with 55%.

Yet customer service is only included in 26% of all cases, and HR only in 16%. Management is barely included at all.

The fact that customer service is included so little, means that many companies don’t yet realize that the role of customer service is getting more and more important in these times in which customer satisfaction and the end-to-end customer experience becomes increasingly crucial.

And I suppose that by now it’s clear how bad many organizations perform at putting people where they belong: in the centre of their marketing activities.

The overwhelming presence of marketing and PR shows that a lot of companies overlook a large part of the essence of social media marketing. And the fact that HR (and therefore also the company’s employees) is included so sporadically, emphasizes this conclusion even more.