NEW YORK: Business leaders are giving communications and marketing teams ownership of social media, said Justine Thody, the Economist Intelligence Unit's editorial director for the Americas, at the Arthur W. Page Society Spring Seminar on Friday.
The company found in a study that executives say marketing and branding teams and marcomms and PR units have the most responsibility for social media channels, she said. Thody added that 41% of respondents identify marketing and branding units as owning social media, while 40% say communications and PR teams manage it.
The study also found that more than two-thirds (67%) of participants think customers talking about their business on social media, whether in positive or negative terms, is beneficial, especially to drive sales, said Thody. A little more than half of respondents feel the same way about employees speaking out on social channels, she added.
In its most recent communications model, released Thursday, the Page Society urged corporate communicators to use social media to spread their cultures.
During a panel discussion after Thody's speech, Corey duBrowa, SVP of global communications and international public affairs at Starbucks, said “employees have always been an integral part of our culture.” He explained that the company strengthens customer engagement by empowering 200,000 staffers around the world.
Kelly McGinnis, VP of global communications at Dell, said her company encourages staffers to attend its “Social Media and Community University” program. More than 8,000 employees have already taken the classes.
At financial services company USAA, Wendi Strong, EVP of corporate communications, said being a regulated business causes “barriers to having employees engage with customers.” She added that USAA is working on developing an internal social media policy because employees are the corporation's “greatest advocates.”
Strong explains that USAA integrated social media measurement into its analytics, and that research showed a return on investment. Having tangible evidence of social media's ROI has helped influence financial and leadership teams at the company to adopt more social initiatives, she added.
Thody added the EIU study found that 45% of executives find the biggest “roadblock” for companies in social media is the “inability to prove ROI.” She said the organization expects to see more businesses create social-media measurement tools in the near future.