Are you just social media overhead, asks Cisco Non-believer


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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”:

…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?”

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.

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

image from At its core, the ComStar Model has one key principle, and it is this:

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?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Walter Adamson
I help firms create optimal customer experiences by integrating social data, teams & processes with enterprise systems. The much vaunted 360-view of the customer can be a bottomless pit without a clear data strategy. I help you deliver a greatly improved customer experience starting with a "45-degree" view of the customer, fully utilising social data analytics. I clarify your objectives and what data you need to service them, and guide you to operationalise "social at scale" to consistently deliver valuable customer experience at every social touch point.


  1. Great post Walter. The Social Media Service Model is still new to many but highly effective once an organization get’s their arms around. We introduced the model about 2 years ago for the first time and replaced a “social media department” which was a nice and active group, but how effective can a handful of people be in social relationship development when the rest of the organization does business as usual.



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