Last year, Forrester Research's Jeremiah Owyang predicted that 2008 would be the first time that we'd see companies begin to set aside budgets specifically for social media initiatives. Looks like Jeremiah was right, as three recent news stories seem to suggest that corporations are moving quickly into the social media waters.


First, Ford last month tabbed social media guru (and fellow Daily Fix writer) Scott Monty to head up its social media efforts. Scott will be over a 5-person social media team for Ford Motor Company.
Second, Dell recently announced that it was giving its employees unfettered access to a wide array of social media sites and social tools.
Dell's Chief Blogger, Lionel Menchaca, explains the company's rationale for the move:

This latest development is an evolution of our social media strategy, and I think it's a good thing. In a lot of ways, this reminds me of the early days of the Internet. The objections for not opening up access to social media sites borrows a popular argument from back then: doing so will be a drain on employee productivity. So, why did we do it? Because more of our global customer base is having conversations on these sites. Beyond that, many customers reach out to Dell for support at these sites. Seems clear that these trends will continue.

And finally, on Monday, Geoff Livingston announced that his Washington D.C.-based Livingston Communications was being acquired by Toronto's Social Media Group. The move makes SMG the largest indie SM marketing firm in North America, with Livingston adding that "it's clear that companies are desperate for qualified social media marketing and communications services creating an immediate opportunity to serve large enterprises."(emphasis added).
I see a couple of trends here. Some companies are deciding it's time to get serious about social media, and are creating social media management/director positions. While other companies are still outsourcing their social media initiatives to marketing/social media firms. And companies such as Dell that have been experimenting with and using social media for a while now, are seeing clear benefits and are actively embracing these tools on a company-wide basis.
I also think that the big advantage that companies like Dell have is that their entire culture is being changed by social media. Another company can swoop in and hire a 'social media expert' to head up their new social media department, but will the rest of the company be behind these tools, or just a few people in upper management?
Either way, I think you're going to see a lot more names on the move sooner rather than later.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier