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As the scope of social media expands within the enterprise it’s never been more important to have the right supporting capabilities in place – a social operating model. And yet organisational complexity often makes this far from plain sailing.

This is the first in a six-part series exploring aspects of social media governance where enterprises can struggle. We start by exploring factors that influence how many social media accounts an enterprise operates.

It’s no revelation that large enterprises often operate a plethora of social media accounts; factor in different business units, functions and geographic locations and the numbers can really tot up.

In the early days of social media, brands tended to have little governance around setting up social media accounts, with teams largely able to crack-on unchecked. Unlike other marketing channels an official looking social media account can be up and running in minutes.


When Facebook was still “The Facebook”

Some of these legacy accounts (let’s call them) still exist within enterprises, having grown organically and established themselves through their longevity. However that doesn’t mean these accounts are necessarily still relevant. Often they will sit distinctly separate from, and even at odds with, the other social media accounts the enterprise operates.

Rational thinking

If we look at things logically there are many reasons to “sunset” (aka kill-off) these social media accounts. Many rational reasons that is. Here’s a few for starters:

  • Avoid investing in internal or agency resource to reach a relative handful of people.
  • Giving a clearer architecture for teams to manage internally.
  • Avoid an inconsistent tone-of-voice or look-and-feel (or worse, contradictory information).

Seeing these points laid out in black-and-white can be quite frankly embarrassing. It can become a not unsubstantial elephant in the room.

So why does it happen?

I’d suggest three main reasons:

  1. In some cases there may be misconceptions of how social media really works. Giving kudos to an account based purely on follower numbers or failing to fully comprehend the role of news-feed algorithms are two classic examples of disconnected data driving the strategic approach.
  2. We know that in any large enterprise, being able to manage politics is an essential skill. Social media is no different and, as I’ll discuss later in this series, the optimal social media architecture can lie at odds with what “suits” the organisation. Clearly a sensitive and tricky one.
  3. Finally I would cite emotional attachment. The grave sense that surrendering a social media account means “losing visibility inside the organisation” feels unfounded to me. Yes, your team may have setup an account eight years ago and invested many hours of hard work into it, but that doesn’t mean it’s still relevant today. Planning for tomorrow based on what’s happened historically is never a good look.

Surely the start of a new year should be a great time for enterprises to take stock and:

  • Put their audience at the heart of their social media account architecture.
  • Focus on how to most effectively use social media to help encourage their audience to take the action they want.
  • Apply the fundamentals of good customer experience to their social media architecture.
  • Perhaps run a social media account amnesty of sorts?

amnestyBut giving something up can be tougher than starting something new – who’s going for a dry January for example?

So how to proceed?

Going back to those rational points is where to begin. The trick is to position them with the right context. The social media landscape is a term I frequently use to help describe the process of educating, setting context and demonstrating what things actually look like in today’s social media world. By framing the scenario in this way it becomes easier to mitigate the emotion from the situation and (hopefully) deliver a social media architecture that’s efficient for the enterprise (and adds maximum value for the audience).


How many social media accounts does your organisation operate? If you didn’t work for the company would they make sense? Will you be reducing the number of accounts operated on each social network in 2017?

You can find a summary of the other areas in our Social Operating Model White Paper below:


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