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By Matt Pigott - January 20th, 2016
In our fifth annual State of Corporate Social Media report, wherein we polled over 1,100 social media and marketing professionals, we’ve noticed some interesting developments.
In last year’s The State of Corporate Social Media, Vice-President of Content and Social for Citibank North America Lara Ruth made the point that, now that social media has been ramped up, we have entered a time of integration in which social is being geared toward becoming a “key component across all functions” within an organization.
"Most companies have more than six people for whom social is a specific requirement of their role, higher than previous years, with 47% adding that social is integral to the roles of more than six of their team members, also higher than previous years."
This may hint at why the foot is coming off the gas in terms of resources earmarked for social and why social teams, by and large, are shrinking. It’s not because social is seen as less important, it’s that the important role it plays is being absorbed across departments.
Social is becoming integral to departmental functionality, enhancing both the understanding and implementation of social as an evolving mechanism for better communication. What’s interesting here, and what is backed up by this year’s findings, is that social is entering adolescence, not maturity, and establishing itself more firmly among its established marketing companions.
A sort of optical illusion is at play: while social media teams appear to be getting smaller, indicating diminishing importance, the opposite is true. Specialists are in fact being reallocated and drawn up into a wider spread of business operations. The influence of social in and around the workplace, and the recognition of its importance are therefore growing. Companies are realizing that the influence of social needs to permeate all levels and departments and not be siphoned off and siloed away.
What those at board level want to see, in black and white, is efficacy: how social is propelling intention into the realm of realization. And that is proving a tough nut to crack. Most respondents have just one person working exclusively on social at their company. This is lower than in previous years, but is most likely an indication of social beginning to ‘grow up’ and shift position rather than being cut.
The following figure adds some clarity: most companies have more than six people for whom social is a specific requirement of their role, higher than previous years, with 47% adding that social is integral to the roles of more than six of their team members, also higher than previous years. Which could be the harbinger of a shifting trend compelling the end of ‘social silos’ and the gathering momentum of the integration spoken of.
We’re reaching the tipping point, but we’re not there yet! 52% of companies still have a discrete social media team, in fact slightly higher than 2014 when 50% of companies had a discrete social team. These figures at first seem to muddy the water a little but not when you take into account that most of those teams are very junior and, in 53% of the cases, headed up by an experienced manager. Overall, the indication is that social teams as discrete entities are becoming less important within corporations, and recognition of this is driving the integration of the social mechanisms with other departments and teams. As a strategy it makes perfect sense because there are both fiscal and budgetary benefits to such integrations.
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