Why Organizational Structure Matters In the Social Media EraOrganizational structure has a close relationship with an organization’s development and success.
Briefly speaking, organizational structure refers to the way that an organization arranges staff, jobs and resources, so that its work can be performed and its goals can be achieved. An organization can be structured in many different ways, depending on market conditions, organizational goals/strategies/management and other factors. No matter which type, the structure of an organization will determine the modes in which it operates and performs. In other words, for the same organization different structures will result in differences in operating mode and work efficiency, which can impact on the organization’s performance and even determine its success in the market.
Okay, let’s get back on the topic. Organizational structure does matter in marketing, especially in the social media era. This attributes to the following reasons:
Changes in the marketing environment – characteristics of the social media era
The marketing environment has been changed in recent years. One of the main factors is the continuous boom of social media, which tremendously impacts on people’s life.
In the social media era, ordinary people can speak out their voice in front of many; people can equally communicate/interact with each other, despite his/her occupation, social class or economic status; people can express their feelings or complaint about a product anytime and anywhere.
In short, with the high level of openness, equality, connectedness, sociability and popularity of social media, views about a product or company from people(including customers) can be spread over both the net and reality at an unexpected speed. This implies that one company can easily and promptly gain a good reputation OR suffer a crisis. Whether positive or negative, the company should react rapidly. Otherwise, it will miss an opportunity to promote its products and brand, and conversely it will suffer crisis events that can endanger its development.
Nowadays every company should not ignore and stay away from social media. And to react rapidly and properly, a company should establish or adjust corresponding structure and match it with reasonable mechanism. For instance, a company can set up a special social media workgroup/center consists of representatives from different departments, and directly conducted or supervised by the main decision makers of the company(as I refer in the article 5 Key Principles of B2B Social Media Marketing).
Whichever type of structure a company sets up for social media work, the principles are(for reference):
- Reduce the communication hierarchy to ensure information and instruction is delivered quickly and clearly.
- Ensure a close relationship with other departments, including their heads.
- Ensure a “green channel” that the social group/team can directly talk with the decision makers of the company, like CEO and CMO.
- Give it reasonable authority to integrate necessary resources to support the work.
Existence of ROI problems and unsatisfactory marketing practices
ROI is a critical factor that can influence or even determine whether social media marketing is able to continuously get sufficient resources and steady implementation. However, today there are still many companies have low social media marketing ROI. Generally(and seemingly), this attributes to the reasons below:
- The imperfect measurement concepts and methods of SMM ROI. Some social media marketing activities do not regard the original marketing objectives as their guidance but simply focus on the number of fans/follows and awareness, which results in the unmeaning indices appearing in the measurement paper.
- Customers’ buying process has become more complicated than before. Many of them may not easily make the final decision after just reading the product messages in social media, which means it’s not easy to track the exact relation between social media marketing and customers’ buying behaviors.
- The lack of efficiency, stability and innovation in the SMM practices. This leads to the unsatisfactory results of social media marketing, and consequently low marketing ROI. So why there’s the “lack”? Isn’t it just related to the working ability and marketing talent of social media marketers themselves? Afraid not.
No matter what reasons, we had better pay close attention to one thing behind these – the unhealthy organizational structure. In some companies, there are multiple levels between the president and frontline staff. On the one hand, many marketing proposals have to cost a long time to be finally executed because they need to be passed on through many levels between executors and the final decision maker and through many complex procedures, thus the proposals can’t be executed during the “prime time”. On the other hand, the complex & redundant structure and its accompanying procedures can make against the creation and performance of marketing innovation.
Besides, in my opinion, the talent(or quality) of personnel is a very important element of organizational structure. All in all, the leader of a company should also be an excellent marketer. Many marketing methods today can’t get harvest in a short time, especially social media marketing. This requires leader’s strategic vision and overall awareness; otherwise these marketing practices may be suspended shortly. Additionally the leader should have a talent for integrating various resources(both inside and outside) and devolving necessary power to the right places, which will give help to the efficient and healthy operation of social media marketing.
The arrival of social media era has been calling the efficient and flexible organizational structure, and people’s marketing talent; meanwhile it uncovers the problems existing in a company today.
Certainly the structure cannot be changed easily but can be adjusted to apply to the “change” and development. I have discussed about the organizational structure adjustment of Spring Airlines(located in China) for social media era in my Chinese blog. It established a CEO-conducted social media operations center, making Spring Airlines gain great success in social media marketing. Any other cases about structure adjustment for social media era to share with us?
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