There's a good conversation going on over at Social Media B2B where Jeffrey Cohen's post Cisco Social Media Manager Talks Facebook brought in a swift response from "Cisco non-believer":
It's a good challenge, because we then got more insight. Although personally I take the view that a company like Cisco, and on the back of the GFC, isn't going to have any corporate positions that don't make business sense and are hard-justified. But hey the question was asked, and the conversation is great.
...So you have a full-time job to maintain a facebook page? seriously? What happened to the model Cisco’s Anne Plese talked about at Blogworld where the employees engaged actively and built these capabilities in a collaborative model themselves and it did not take additional headcount and funding and was not a centralized command and control environment?"
Autumn Truong @autumntt rose to the challenge with a very positive and open response, and explained the corporate coordination role and how "In my role, I’ve been very focused internally – working with various functional groups within my organization and across Cisco to understand how to effectively leverage social media to share information and communicate externally with our existing audience as well as a new set of influencers."
To me that makes a lot of sense. It's an overhead yes, but the price of lack of coordination could be much higher. I also believe that having someone free of the "operational" pressures allows them to spark new (often incremental) ideas which span functional groups and create real value from new social media initiatives. Without that person these opportunities fall through the cracks.
It's all about balance
Coordination is necessary, and usually starts as a role. When the load gets big enough as in Cisco, these roles become jobs. Me being a graduate of the Social Media Academy one part of our methodology addresses the Cross Functional Corporate Social Media Framework.
This Framework, which we name the Comstar model, provides the understanding that a social media oriented corporation is actually applying a new state of mind to its culture and processes. The framework includes all departments such as sales, marketing, service & support, product management, HR, Logistics, and all other groups and its respective teams. The ComStar model suggest a social media service-team-based organization structure.
The Comstar Principle
Develop a social media service team (SMST) that supports all departments in the organization The SMST members do not necessarily tweet, blog, comment themselves instead empowers others to do so. Similar to IT team, finance support or HR that services an entire company, the SMST functions the same way.
Cisco has this same idea in the cross-functional role described by Autumn Truong.
What do you think, is this "overhead" or a valuable and perhaps necessary role of cross-functional coordination in any larger firm moving towards a social business model?