How cross-departmental collaboration will make your social media thrive

Marketing once provided a one-sided way of reaching the masses. Audiences watched television ads and consumed newspaper features without a clear way to respond to the company behind the promotions. But all that changed with social media.

Today, marketing is a conversation between businesses and people — and people expect correct, clear answers. Indeed, transparency has long plagued organisations and politicians. To meet the demands of modern social media users, the marketing team needs to involve departments from across a company. Find out why social media is more effective when multiple teams are involved.

Marketing is a conversation between businesses and people

Few companies provide high-quality social media customer service

Social media has become a go-to choice for customer service needs. Instead of searching for a contact form or battling through an automated phone system, users enjoy the ease of sending a tweet or Facebook message. However, research shows that 65% of people avoided using social media for customer service in 2015.

The top reasons why customers preferred other customer services methods include the time required for a response and a perceived inability to solve complex requests through social media platforms. Indeed, too often, companies reply only with a customer service number instead of reaching out to solve a problem. In many cases, this is because the business didn’t want private personal information exposed to the public. The best companies work to find a balance between providing useful information online and taking the extended conversation offline at the right time.

65% of people avoided using social media for customer service in 2015

When the marketers and customer service reps work together, everyone can collaborate to create better processes for solving customer problems on social media platforms. Instead of marketers trying to figure out the correct answers and tracking down order numbers, customer service representatives can step in, responding to Twitter and Facebook messages much as they would to emails and online chat messages.

The best companies work to find a balance between providing useful information online and taking the extended conversation offline

Different departments can keep your channels interesting

Each department views a company differently, from the operations team that implements better systems to the sales staff that speaks with customers. Using these perspectives can keep the content flowing and maintain interest from your audience.

The country of Sweden offers a useful example of what can happen when multiple people get to represent a brand, whether it’s a country or a company, through social media. Four years ago, Swedish representatives created “Curators of Sweden” and handed the login credentials of its Twitter account to a new person every week. Today, the experience is still running strong. Sometimes the account talks about life as an accountant in Stockholm, and other times the tweets emerge from a rural sheep herder.

The marketer behind this idea said that national branding is “like a fake dating profile,” and posts quickly become boring and clichéd. When a marketing team shares content responsibility, that content can become more original and interesting.

Each department views a company differently

Multiple accounts make addressing customer concerns easier

Many large companies create social media accounts for different departments to make it easier for audiences to find the information they’re seeking. These accounts typically include a main account, a customer service account, and sometimes a job posting account for employment opportunities. These accounts are easy ways to make sure divisions of the company don’t step on one another’s toes when they’re posting. The customer service department manages the help line, while human resources answers employment questions.

Multiple accounts also help members of your audience find exactly what they’re seeking. During the holiday season, FedEx has two different audiences: people looking for seasonal work and people wondering about their parcel deliveries. By splitting up the accounts, job seekers don’t get flooded by customer service posts, and vice versa.

Cross-training is inexpensive and valuable

If you’re afraid to hand over social media to another department, set aside time to cross-train people on your best practices. Let them know what they should and shouldn’t do. Jim Belosic of Social Media Examiner recommends creating a style guide to familiarise people with branding. As people start engaging, monitor their responses, providing feedback weekly and then monthly. You don’t have to give people complete control overnight, but you can slowly build their experience — and your trust in them.

Set aside time to cross-train people on your best practices

Investing in employees and training them to handle different skills can increase a company’s employee retention rate, according to e-learning platform Wranx. If you’re training an entry-level employee on best marketing practices, that person may consider your department when seeking career advancement. If the employee moves to a different department, that person can boost social media’s importance as he or she advances within the company. Soon social media might well become a priority for all managers, not only marketing managers. Either way, a few hours of training can set the stage for years of successful social media communication across all segments of the company.

If you’re looking for other departments to help with social media management, start with one and make it your champion. Once other departments see the success of the first one, they will become more interested in getting involved in social media themselves. From this point, you can on-board teams one step at a time instead of involving the entire company at once.

As a marketer, your role in social media will start to evolve. You can become a leader within your company, guiding different departments through your social media strategy. With better recruiting and happier customers, everyone will reap the rewards.

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