Ensuring social media success relies on a number of factors. Giving the responsibility to one person is not necessarily the best route.

We recently made a marketing communications presentation to a large building materials manufacturer. The subjects were widespread, but one area that came up for discussion was the use of social media.

One of the directors asked, “If we start using social media, who is going to answer the queries?”

The encouraging thing about this question is that the director clearly had the right idea – successful social media is not about talking, it’s about listening. For the company to need to provide answers, they had to be listening for the questions in the first place!

However, it does raise a serious issue when it comes to social media – who should carry the burden of the company’s social media activity?

Our immediate answer was that just about anyone can answer the queries, provided that they have the necessary knowledge and experience in the particular area, and a little training and instruction on social media etiquette so that they know what they can and cannot say.

“What about your sales engineers?” We suggested.

“I wouldn’t want any of our sales team doing it!” came the reply.

But why not? If sales staff can be trusted to go out into the field and handle multi-million pound contracts, why can’t they be trusted to answer questions on behalf of the company? Surely that’s part of their job!

The same might be said of technical departments, training teams and just about any other discipline in the company. Provided they have their ‘company hat’ on and think carefully about the ramifications of their answers or posts, the more (informed) people that are involved in the process, the better; it shares the burden of keeping social media activity alive and presents a more varied and interesting face for the organisation.

As with any communications activity, the secret is to ensure that it is controlled in an apropriate fashion – proper training, defined responsibilities, clear guidelines and careful monitoring and control will ensure that communications remain on message.

Sharing the load across the organisation will make the process less burdensome, more vibrant and more effective.