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The Social Media Management Handbook - Book Review

1 November 2013
Dr. Moria Levy

"The Social Media Management Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Get Social Media Working in Your Business" was published in 2011 and is credited to Nick Smith, Robert Wollan, and Catherine Zhou. Although attributed to these individuals, the book is a collaborative effort by Accenture employees, with each chapter authored by a different person. While this decomposition enhances professionalism and knowledge within each chapter, it is, in my view, marred by a noticeable amount of repetition, despite attempts—sometimes artificial—to present the chapters as a coherent sequence of topics.

Methodically, the book is easy to read, featuring extracts at the beginning of each chapter outlining the main points. Various chapters incorporate real examples from diverse customers and organizations.

The book covers the following topics:
  • Strategy

  • Culture

  • Policies & Procedures

  • Officials

  • Computing

  • Hearing the Voice of the Customer

  • Sales & Marketing

  • Development

  • Service & Support

While most of the content focuses on implementing social media in the broader context of the world and customers, a smaller portion delves into intra-organizational cooperation, specifically knowledge management. Nevertheless, the book is recommended for knowledge managers due to its impactful vision and integrative approach. It offers valuable insights for enhancing the internal organizational landscape, drawing from the external perspective.

Happy reading!


At first glance, a strategy for dealing with social media may need to be evident, as many organizations worldwide engage with social media without a formal strategy. However, the authors emphasize the importance of a strategy, particularly after the initial experiential stage.

Why is a strategy essential?

  1. Social media implementation is challenging due to:

    a. Loss of organizational control (media cannot be controlled).

    b. The ubiquity of social media (cross-geographical; viral).

    c. Emotional nature alongside functionality.

  2. Social media influences diverse societal entities.

Principles for implementing a strategy:

Comprehensive Integrative Perspective:

  • Joint observation across departments and organizational bodies.

  • Recommends a familiar coordinator role.

  • Advocates for a unified voice for the organization, considering the customer's preferred communication channels.

Building a Strategy Based on In-Depth Research:

  • Research ensures strategic investments are targeted effectively.

  • Examines expected business outcomes and potential Return on Investment (ROI).

Supporting Services – Data Management:

  • It addresses extensive data management, which is outside the organizational world and controlled servers, unlike other data.

Elements influencing the success of social media in organizations:

  1. Context:

    1. Relates to the business environment, goals, competition, and existing regulations.

    2. Addresses how the social media strategy aligns with the business strategy.

  2. Culture:

    1. References habits, behaviors, work methods, and subcultures within the organization.

  3. Processes:

    1. Addresses new work processes post-social media integration.

    2. Considers existing work processes affected by the integration.

  4. People:

    1. Considers the impact of social media introduction on organizational personnel.

  5. Policy:

    1. Defines activity and conduct patterns, ensuring strategy realization.

  6. Measurement:

    1. Establishes a measurement plan for examining investment levels and progress toward goals.

    2. Proposes a concept for measuring "customer health," predicting future customer behavior.

    3. Emphasizes continuous, fluid measurement for constant improvement.


Connecting Management: Initiating the integration of social media into the organization requires effectively "selling" the concept to the organization. Since senior management utilizes these channels less frequently, organizations may not naturally gravitate toward this initiative. This challenging selling process demands action on both rational (potential and benefits) and emotional axes.

Recommended steps for justifying social media to management:

  1. Target Areas Valued by Senior Management:

    1. Focus on areas highly appreciated and comprehended by senior management, such as acquiring more customers through social media.

  2. Link Benefits to Ongoing Activities:

    1. Add benefits related to ongoing activities, seizing appropriate opportunities, like enhancing understanding customer needs through social media.

  3. Establish a Comprehensive Connection to Organizational Needs:

    1. Recognize that connecting management is crucial, but more is needed; cultural change is required at an organizational level.

Managing this issue parallels any cultural change:

  1. Change Management:

    1. Implement strategies for managing change effectively.

  2. Alignment with Corporate Business Strategy:

    1. Align the social media strategy with the corporate business strategy.

  3. Incorporate Human Capital Management Elements:

    1. Address aspects related to human capital management in the social media strategy, including leadership, culture, operations, and requirements for new hires.

  4. Develop Employee Abilities and Skills:

    1. Enhance employee abilities and skills through courses and training, adapting existing programs into social media-based training.

  5. Integrate Social Media in Recruitment:

    1. Incorporate social media capabilities in recruiting new employees.

  6. Internal Organizational Use of Social Media:

    1. Manage social media for internal organizational needs, such as knowledge sharing and management purposes.

  7. Reward and Incentive Programs:

    1. Implement reward and incentive programs to motivate employees.

  8. Emphasize Middle Managers:

    1. Recognize the importance of middle managers in facilitating such changes.

In the context of knowledge sharing within the organization, cultural adaptation is crucial, considering the nature of the need. Whether it involves soft solutions, problem-solving, or locating experts in a knowledge community, sensitivity to the nature of the need is essential. Regarding intra-organizational sharing, while most individuals share knowledge with their peers, proper analysis (SNA) of connections between different groups can reveal additional, crucial connections empowered by social media.

Policies & Procedures

Don't Panic: Establishing a set of procedures for engaging with social media is a recommended approach, not just one or two procedures but a comprehensive collection. This recommendation acknowledges the diverse goals organizations pursue and the various target audiences they address, suggesting that it is not solely due to an abundance of time but rather a strategic necessity.

The three primary objectives of social media procedures are as follows:

  1. Reducing Company Risks: Mitigating risks from social media activities, such as potential lawsuits.

  2. Employee Protection: Safeguarding employees involved in social media writing by clarifying the company's responsibility limits and emphasizing the writer's accountability.

  3. Empowering Employees: Providing guidelines that enable employees to differentiate themselves and create added value through social media writing. This could include adhering to specific branding or writing rules.

Consider implementing procedures for:

  • Employees Writing on Social Media

  • General Users of Company-Managed/Sponsored Social Media Communities (Terms of Use)

  • Managers (Integrated into Existing Management Courses)**

Additional Tips:

  • Accessibility of Procedures: Ensure that procedures are easily accessible so employees can find them effortlessly.

  • Avoid Prohibitive Language: Refrain from creating procedures that explicitly forbid online writing, as this approach is deemed ineffective and potentially harmful.

  • Consider the Role of Trust: Recognize the importance of trust in social media and contemplate how trustworthiness can be reflected in the procedures.

The authors dedicate an entire chapter to analyzing Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and the adjustments needed due to the shift toward meaningful social media usage. A widely applicable example is the recommendation for clear and visible disclosures in principle and in every post or tweet where they are relevant.


Navigating Roles in the Organization: Many functionaries within the organization are intricately linked, encompassing both existing roles with tasks affected by the transformation and designated "new" roles essential for driving social media activities. The apparent abundance of roles should not cause alarm; some can and should be integrated, while others can be fulfilled by the same individual serving multiple roles. Specific responsibilities may be assigned to existing functionaries, and tasks can also be outsourced to external consultants specializing in social media. Additionally, some roles may be more applicable to highly advanced organizations, utilizing Machine Learning (ML) capabilities. The comprehensive list of functionaries sheds light on the various components and intricacies involved in managing social media within the organization. The following is a brief overview of designated officials, with more detailed information available in the book:

[Further details on designated officials and their concise descriptions are available in the book itself.]

Social Media Management:

  • Social Media Champion:

    • Function: Enterprise Leader

    • Details: Holds influence over management at all levels.

  • Social Media Strategist:

    • Function: Social Media Strategist

    • Details: Leads the development of the vision and operating concept. This role involves communication with management, business personnel, and computer managers. It is an ongoing role requiring constant updating and development.

Voice of the Customer:

  • Social Voice of the Customer Program Lead:

    • Function: Voice of the Customer Program Leader

    • Details: Heads the activity focused on listening to customer statements across social media, actively clarifying customer opinions through surveys, focus groups, etc.

  • Text Analytics Team:

    • Function: Data Analysis Team

    • Details: Business functionaries who define categories and strings for search activities aimed at identifying the voice of the customer in the media.

  • Qualitative Research Analysts:

    • Details: Analyzing texts from hearing the customer's voice, locating information, and extracting insights from such texts.

  • Analytical Modeling Team:

    • Function: Analytical Team

    • Details: Analyzes information from the previous team, concludes, and builds models to address high-priority problems.


  • Social Media Campaign Manager:

    • Details: Manages campaigns emphasizing content (not advertising) and considers the channel's virality.

  • Community Manager:

    • Details: Manages customer/external communities in the media.

  • Social Media Outlet Manager:

    • Function: Media Channel Manager

    • Details: Individuals responsible for marketing on a defined channel (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) - suitable for significant/advanced organizations.

  • Social Media Content Manager:

    • Details: Leads the creation and publication of information through various channels.


  • Social Media Architect:

    • Details: The chief architect is responsible for realizing the organization's strategy in all technological aspects.

      Listening Post Data Managers:

    • Function: Manage Content Collection

    • Details: Technical professionals managing content collection, integration, and publication. They design processes for using tools according to organizational requirements.

  • Web Crawler Architect:

    • Function: Web Collection Architect

    • Details: Responsible for implementing crawling technologies to collect information for the organization.

  • Text Analytics Architect:

    • Function: Data Analytics Architect

    • Details: Manages data mining systems and their usage.

  • Social Media Developers:

    • Function: Social Media Middleware and Application Developers

Beyond the designated positions outlined above, various other positions within the organization are impacted, with particular relevance to the following roles:

  • Senior Management: Involvement with the subject, commitment, and support at the organizational and departmental levels.

  • Brand Managers: Understanding the field and utilizing the brand across various media channels.

  • Digital Marketing Officer: Knowledge of emerging technologies and marketing recommendations to leverage these technologies for increased traffic on the company's primary website.

  • Director of Internal Organizational Communications: Utilizing social media as a crucial communication tool for internal employee communications.

  • Sales/Support Service Personnel: Enhancing customer understanding by learning from content across various media.

  • Field Salespeople: Discovering new leads through media channels.

  • General Counsel: Adapting company policies to facilitate employees' wise use of social media, thereby mitigating associated risks.


  • The infrastructure of the roles should be constructed gradually, with flexibility and adaptability to ongoing developments. Rome wasn't built in a day.

  • The role infrastructure is foundational, but only some-encompassing; it forms the basis for further organizational growth.

  • The definition of role holders should align with the overall organizational culture.

  • Avoid the temptation to tailor roles around specific individuals and their unique abilities.

  • As with other organizational aspects, change should be actively managed rather than merely announced.


In delineating roles, the pivotal involvement of the IT department in planning and executing successful social media strategies within the organization becomes evident. Here are seven rules that guide IT in maximizing the potential of social media technology:

  1. The CIO must closely embrace evolving technologies and their dynamic development (an ongoing commitment).

  2. The CIO should oversee content management on social media, with subsequent breakdowns into sub-areas for each dedicated department.

  3. The CIO should set a personal example in using social media to foster engagement among others.

  4. The CIO and the VP of Marketing should act as equal partners in initiating the endeavor.

  5. The CIO and VP of Marketing should jointly decide on the structure and lead the organization's social media team.

  6. The organization's social media team needs to proactively engage with the latest and most relevant channels continually.

  7. Team managers should establish new measurement rules tailored to social media.

The technological platform itself encompasses six core components:

  1. Community services (blogs, knowledge communities, social networks, etc.).

  2. Tools for integrating the organization with external media channels.

  3. Workflow management tools for ongoing decision management, determining responses, and routing following business regulations.

  4. Tools for analyzing information (texts).

  5. Measurement and analysis tools (profile analysis, BUZZ analysis, etc.).

Additionally, the platform should integrate with the organization's operational systems, particularly the CRM system.

Key challenges associated with the technology platform include:

  • Many purchased products may not endure, making it challenging to predict their longevity.

  • Successful architecture must sensitively balance handling quantitative and completely unstructured data.

  • Unfortunately, many companies overpromise, and the performance often falls short of expectations, creating a significant gap.

Hearing the Voice of the Customer

Organizations have perennially sought to listen to the voice of the customer, but the advent and widespread use of social media have elevated customer feedback to unprecedented levels.

Social media serves as a potent source of customer insights for several reasons:

  1. It enables organizations to receive a continuous and valuable stream of feedback.

  2. Unlike focus groups and surveys, the information source is predominantly free of charge.

  3. The information obtained is qualitative, not merely quantitative.

  4. The information is already documented and can be preserved.

Several noteworthy points should be considered:

  • The information is emotional, not solely functional.

  • The impact of the information is substantial; a company's image and market value can be significantly affected by media expression (e.g., the broken guitar in American Airlines).

Five recommended steps in voice-of-the-customer management:

  1. Synchronizing efforts within the organization, as customers express themselves where it is convenient for them, regardless of the designated department.

  2. Listening and learning on the company's websites and in the broader media, understanding what is happening, and discerning how to interpret the data (acknowledging that not all feedback indicates a deep concern).

  3. Analysis and action involve decisions on what to respond to when to respond (24/7?), how to respond, and who should respond. This includes distinguishing individual claims from plural ones and separating user feedback from operationally related issues.

  4. Response strategies, distinguishing between individual and broad responses, and formulating a perception of when to answer one-on-one and respond broadly across media channels.

  5. Execution and analysis, performing organizational actions related to an emerging problem or situation. After implementation, analyze whether the actions and responses align with the desired expectations.

Key challenges in managing the voice of the customer:

  • The requisite speed of response.

  • Dealing with large volumes of information.

  • Navigating the variety of sometimes contradictory opinions from different customers.

  • Integrating the media concept and tools into a traditional organization and its tools (including CRM).

  • The challenge of not knowing who the writing clients are and understanding their specific characteristics.

Sales & Marketing

Over the years, the efficacy of traditional marketing channels has waned, with social media emerging as one of the most influential factors in recent times. Here are key strategies that can enhance sales opportunities:

  1. Encourage Recommendations: Obtain details that prompt individuals to write or recommend your products or services.

  2. Strategic Advertising Placement: Incorporate advertising into engaging locations that appeal to specific target groups.

  3. Immediacy and Exclusive Deals: Create a sense of urgency with "Only Today" deals to prompt immediate action.

  4. Promotions for Word of Mouth: Develop promotions that incentivize individuals to spread the word about your offerings.

  5. Group Promotions: Utilize group promotions to encourage individuals to attract more participants.

  6. Community Leadership Activation: Identify and activate selected individuals as community leaders to influence others.

  7. Influence Market Leaders: Strive to have an impact on market leaders who can sway a broader audience.

  8. Connect Early Adopters: Link groups of individuals who aspire to be early adopters in various domains.

  9. Relationship Strengthening: Strengthen relationships with individuals who can serve as advocates for your products or services instead of the company itself.


The utilization of social media as a tool for fostering growth and innovation in products/services may not be groundbreaking, but it has become almost a prerequisite, mainly due to:

  1. Shortened Product and Service Lifecycles: The accelerated pace of change necessitates a quicker adaptation to product and service lifecycles.

  2. Diverse Expertise Requirements: Complex products require various areas of expertise and diverse capabilities for successful market presentation.

  3. Market Demand for Niche Products: Markets increasingly demand niche products tailored to specific sub-populations.

It is advisable to leverage social media for growth by tapping into ideas, facilitating development shortcuts, engaging beta users, comprehending usage profiles, gathering product feedback, and more. This approach encompasses three distinct circles:

  1. Internal Engagement with Employees: Encouraging participation and ideation among the organization's workforce.

  2. Engaging Trust Networks: Establishing connections within trust networks comprising suppliers, consumers, partners, and other defined closed groups.

  3. Global Outreach: Engaging with the broader international community.

Beyond the tangible gains in ideas and the areas above, social media connections foster solid bonds and commitment among circle members, ultimately contributing to societal impact.

Service & Support

Frequently, social media complaints arise after users have exhausted conventional channels. The primary, proactive method to mitigate negative comments and claims involves maintaining a robust professional and service-oriented support system.

Key insights from activating social media in service and support areas:

  1. Establishing a Dedicated Social Media Channel: Implementation depends on the organization's effort to encourage customer use.

  2. Recognizing the Necessary Investment: Acknowledging the significance of the investment required in this domain.

  3. Integration of Marketing, Sales, and Service: Coordinating marketing, sales, and service activities within the social media context.

  4. Building Customer Communities: Creating communities where customers can assist each other.

  5. Employee Engagement: Involving numerous employees to interact with customers on social media, leveraging the natural fluency of younger staff in these channels.

  6. Continuous Improvement in Customer Relationship Management: Monitoring and enhancing CRM practices.

  7. Strategic Utilization for Customer Delight: Demonstrating creativity in using social media to pleasantly surprise customers (e.g., providing service based on Twitter updates).

Additional tips:

  • Recognizing that social media support representatives require distinct skills from their telephone counterparts, necessitating tailored training.

  • Emphasizing knowledge management in customer service, laying the foundation for professional service that can be enhanced for media use (e.g., customer database).

  • Soliciting feedback or product ratings fosters trust and can positively impact future sales.

Handling Complaints:

In dealing with potential endless complaints on social media, organizations should establish a structured workflow:

  1. Identifying Complaints: Identifying and categorizing complaints.

  2. Assessing Value/Risk/Noise Levels: Analyzing the importance, risk, and potential impact to determine the appropriate response body, urgency, and treatment.

Complaints can be addressed by dedicated professionals, appropriately trained employees, and even engaged customers. It's crucial to recognize that the validity of the complaint isn't always the sole determinant; the potential for noise and damage influences the decision to respond, emphasizing the need for a nuanced approach.

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