Reading about best practices of online community engagement led me to this rather existential question: Do we need a comprehensive strategy for community/social media for the company or just collaboration across departments?
Beth Kanter blogs today about whether orgs really want an online community (read: relationships) or just want content (read: dialogue around a topic of shared interest). There IS a difference. Kanter was discussing strategies for community engagement, when a reader posed the question: Do you really want community? The reader suggests that an org decide what it really wants and tailor strategy around the answer.
Then I found Augie Ray’s post today at Social Media Today. Ray argues that companywide strategies are more of a hindrance than a help to effective use of social media/community because “social media is a tool to be used in different ways under different circumstances” and spending time setting the strategy won’t get you where you need to go now. He also says that no one department in a company should “own” social media, but the departments should collaborate to effectively get what they need out of the tool and to cut down on duplication.
I see the merit in Ray’s arguments. Strategy can become gospel — That’s the way we do things! — and when needs change, it can take an act of god to change strategic course.
Here at GazComm we don’t have a comprehensive community/social media strategy (as yet). There are overlapping initiatives across departments –- the ninja project, The Gazette’s social media guide, the Web Best Practices Group, social media R&D for online niche products and, one assumes, future social media efforts by the retooled marketing department. (Online communities are hot in marketing.) I’ve probably missed some projects here, and I apologize in advance.
It’s all interrelated in some way, but mostly happening independently of each other, and many of us are probably covering the same conceptual ground in our research.
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not that the folks in these initiatives don’t talk to each other or don’t share information. We do, but I don’t think we can really call it collaboration, either. Not yet. I’m thinking we need to get there, though.