While other employees might envy your role, as it offers a lot
of visibility, the social media Center of Excellence is frankly a lousy deal. Not controlling what you need to succeed never bodes well.  Legal, procurement, and executives can lay down the law. The Center doesn’t have that authority, yet must deliver results.

Over time, more and more ‘chokepoint’ controls will be put in place, giving social Centers of Excellence bettert ability to monitor and inform activity. But as we all know, social is incredibly hard to contain. Any employee can start a Twitter account and begin tweeting in under a minute.

Visibility – didn’t you see the memo?

No doubt, emails will be sent and newsletter articles will be written to let everyone know there’s now a new social Center of Excellence. In reality, internal clients may not be aware
your Center exists. Even if they are, you can’t assume they’ll seek out
‘excellence.’ You’ll continue to meet groups that had no idea the Center is there, no real idea what the Center does. Plan on devoting quite a bit of time and resources to ongoing awareness and consideration. Gary Spangler, corporate eMarketing manager who manages a social CoE at Dupont concurs. “We constantly promote the Center. Groups won’t see you as an advisor unless they see you adding value.” Gary has also found offering ongoing training, as well as informative webinars, helps to drive many of the Center’s internal consulting engagements.

How the Center sees itself

In order to entice, inspire and facilitate adoption it’s best if corporate groups work off the principle that the Center is there at the behest of the paying guests, the divisions and teams that generate revenue – which in the broadest sense includes Marketing Execution, Customer Service, Product Development, or anyone else who reports to a GM/SVP.

In order to succeed, you must invert the organizational chart, at least behaviorally. Rather than visualize an all-powerful ‘Center,’ think of your group’s efforts as a the foundation for other teams. Yes, the company needs the divisions and departments to rely on the Center for direction. Your group is usually asked to ensure the entire enterprise is using the same best practices, processes, vendors, guidelines, etc. That said, where is it written that this expertise must rain down from on high? A model based on teams working off the same resource is more aligned with the ideal state, where divisions and departments actively seek out what you have to offer.

• Focus first on pull, not push, distribution scenarios – not after the fact, but as part of defining the valued content/tools you create.

How the Center works

Presumably, ‘excellence’ stands for what the group is striving to help the other groups achieve. They have the expertise others should adopt. The fundamental value social has to offer is tapping under-utilized resources.

Given that, limiting valued contributors to a small central body of expertise make sense. Expertise and ideas are distributed across the company. Different people in different roles offer unique insights.

Having a larger group contribute doesn’t mean the experts within the ‘Center’ must sit on the sidelines – it means there are more ways they can add value. They can serve the larger collaborative effort by creating the initial framework others work off, initiating which programs need contributions, reviewing submissions, prioritizing programs and pulling it all together. Last but not least, they can help organize cross-divisional or departmental pilots that test new approaches.

• Be social. As Gandhi said and practiced, “be the change you wish to see.” Facilitate collaboration, ceding at least some control and some decisions.

Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this five-part series.

Next: Building a team – what are the necessary skill sets?

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mdverde/