The Face of Social Media Teams in 2013

A few weeks back we published a post on how to effectively manage a social media team. While full of great advice from some of the brightest community managers in the business, the article is based on the assumption that you actually have a team, when in reality, most organizations only dream of having a fully-functional social media staff to manage. To establish a means for comparision, let’s take a look at how social media staffing is set up in the modern organization. How many people do organizations actually dedicate to the cause? And how does the social chain of command function in a typical workplace?

A recent study from Ragan and NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions surveyed 2,714 marketing, communications and public relations professionals to take a look at how social media is executed at corporations, nonprofits and government organizations of various shapes and sizes. Let’s take a look at some of the key results.

Who is responsible for social media duties?

Results show that while about a quarter of organizations have a team of people that focus exclusively on social media, over two thirds of organizations tack social media duties on as an “extra task” for employees in other roles.

Who Does Social

How big are internal social media teams?

Focusing on the 27% of organizations who have a team working exclusively on social media, 82% have three people or less committed to the task. Meanwhile, just 9% of these organizations dedicate six or more people to social media efforts.

Social Media Team Size

Which departments are involved in social media?

Marketing and public relations departments play the largest roll in social media. Surprisingly, just 19% of customer service departments play a part in social media, even though consumers are quick to bring product or service issues straight to social outlets.

Social Media Departments

Who does the social media team report to?

Social media teams often report to marketing, corporate communications or public relations departments, but an empowered 17% take results directly to the CEO.

Social Media Boss

Do departments work well together on social media efforts?

While just about three quarters of organizations say departments work “very well” or “well” together on social media initiatives, the remaining quarter complained that cross-departmental collaborations are less than ideal.

Social Media Collaboration

How are internal social media teams faring?

We know that social media efforts are generally either ancillary duties or special projects assigned by marketing and communications departments. But does this organizational structure lend itself to the goals and nature of social media?

Results show that about two thirds of the organizations surveyed describe their social media efforts as intermediate, while another 23% admitted to being complete beginners. When asked about their organization’s ability to keep up with constantly changing social tools and platforms, over half said they “keep [their] heads above water, but not by much.” About a third of respondents said their organization sufficiently adapts to new tools.

Social Media Performance

Despite valiant efforts, data shows that social media is still being treated as a special project rather than a permanent reality. While an overloaded PR person or a siloed one person team can scratch the surface, these forces will never have the time or manpower to focus on strategy or stay current with constantly-evolving toolsets. To solidify social media as a valuable asset, contributors (that is indeed a plural) – whether an internal team or a cross-departmental committee – need to be empowered to confidently move forward with meaningful strategy and a constantly-evolving toolset. Because as with most things, at the end of the day you get what you pay for with social media.