How to Make a Social Business Blend

This post was written by Phyllis Fair, Communications Advisor, FedEx Services and originally appeared on the FedEx Blog (client).

First, you start with one part Communications with an equal part of Marketing. Next you follow that by adding a heaping of Information Technology (IT), a dash of Human Resources and Customer Service. Then you top it off with some Finance and Operations. You mix all the ingredients together and voilà you have a social business blend. Of course, ingredients and the amounts can vary depending upon the company.

I bet you’re wondering what is she talking about. What is a social business blend? I’ve never heard of that drink. Well, I’m glad you asked. Let me tell you, and no, it’s not the latest fad drink.

It is where ownership of social media is expanding beyond the traditional Communications/Marketing organizations to business leaders, employees and even customers. We found this shared responsibility evident in a recent 2012 Social Business Benchmark Study that FedEx, along with our agency partner Ketchum, presented. This study updates and expands upon research findings first released in 2010.

Jeremiah Owyang, partner at the Altimeter Group and one of the social media thought-leaders interviewed for the study, called it moving from “solo to orchestra.” It’s where Marketing/Communications become the conductor of an orchestrated effort where all constituents (i.e. business areas/employees and sometimes customers) are playing from the same sheet of music, but with different instruments and voices.

According to the study, 64 percent of participating companies’ Communications, Marketing or Human Resources (HR) teams have changed as a result of social business. The trend seen among the organizations in the study is that they are shifting from centralized to more matrix-structured teams and processes to support their social business efforts. In fact, 48 percent of the companies said they now have a matrix/shared ownership for social media.

Social media is too big to fit into one function. The best companies are moving into a center of excellence model,” said Dion Hinchcliffe, Executive Vice President of Strategy, Dachis Group and another one of the social media thought-leaders interviewed for the study

At FedEx, it’s not a Marketing or Communications. It’s a Marketing and Communications and Customer Service and IT and Interactive Marketing and HR. It’s an enterprise-wide responsibility. And it’s in the form of a social business council with cross-functional departmental representation. It’s a commitment of resources that FedEx made to operate fully as a social business

To find out how FedEx is taking more of an “orchestra” approach to social media and how your company can make a social business blend, check out the FedEx-Ketchum 2012 Social Business Benchmark Study.