Social Media IT

March 11, 2009


I’m the IT guy at our house. Are you? If we have a problem with our Y! Small business email, blog, with FB or twitter I’m typically trying to QA and find the fix in whatever spare time I can muster. Sound familiar?

If you work for a company and you have a problem with your email, who do you talk to? IT?

So, if you have a problem with your blog (that you talk about work stuff with sometimes), who do you talk to? Maybe IT, but chances are it depends on the problem or how your IT department feels about supporting blogs. What if you have a question about your work Twitter account? Or LinkedIn? Or Facebook? Now, who do you talk to?

who can help? anyone?

help? anyone? anyone?

We need a Social Media IT department.

Our Social Media IT department wouldn’t solve all our problems would they? If we are lucky, and I’m lucky with the talented folks on my IT team, they’d be able to help us with the technical half of our challenges.

Our challenges are so much bigger. We need support at our place of work for the social and cultural issues we face on the social web. Employees need direction on the protocol and etiquette. If we’re participating on the social web to support our business, we also need tips on how to be successful in our communications. We have to have guidance on win friends and influence people toward our goals. That opens up a whole other can of works, metrics; we have to know what what is effective after all.

Zeldman talks about our need for a web division. He correctly identifies that we typically hand our websites to IT or Marketing. Any guesses where WebTrend’s website lives? While each of these respective departments have skills and interests that should influence the site. Traditionally neither is well suited for the whole responsibility. The same is true for the company Facebook group or the corporate Twitter account.

I’m not convinced we need a web division, but I think Zeldman is on to something. I am convinced that we need support for these newly emerged communication tools. And, not by dumping the responsibilities on existing departments that are ill-equipped and already bootstrapping. We do need Social Media IT for daily support of social media tools. It’s probably more accurate to say that we need a web division with social media capabilities. Or, better yet, a Communication Department.

Where does social media IT support live in your company?


You are so right and so far away from reality: in most of our customers companies people would be glad if IT department would punch some holes in to the firewall systems so they can use twitter or blogs – most is filtered out on proxies and installation of clients like twhirl is prohibited. So, almost everything is happening either in their time off or via “uncensored” mobile devices.
Great Post!
Rgds, Axel

From Axel Amthor on March 11th, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Does your company have a community manager? That might be a position you consider adding. “Social Media IT” could be a part of the job description. Marshall Kirkpatrick has written a couple of really good articles about the subject, here are the links: and
There are some excellent comments on those posts from some very smart people in social media also.

From Doug Coleman on March 11th, 2009 at 11:39 pm

Doug, thank you for the links. Both great posts and really great comments. I appreciate you sharing. We don’t have a full-time community manager although we’ve begun, in earnest, to flex our conversational listing muscles. We’ve recently begun working with @justinkistner and i have no doubt we’ll be moving this directly quickly as possible.

Axel,you couldn’t be more right. One of the things I Love about WT is that our IT team really supports us in communications. The pesky firewall issues get resolved quickly but the rest of our challenges remain the same.

From jascha kaykas-wolff on March 12th, 2009 at 5:18 am

You are certainly doing well to be working with @justinkistner. He has an amazing grasp on what is happening in social media. WebTrends is doing such great things for its customers it makes sense that you would want to connect with your community and your employees using social media. I applaud your efforts.

From Doug Coleman on March 12th, 2009 at 8:16 am

I just forwarded this article on to our IT manager, and the reply was disheartening. “Who’s going to pay for all this? People are overburdened as it is.” Corp. IT just has different priorities; they haven’t changed in years, and will resist change.

From A lonely Media Producer on March 12th, 2009 at 9:21 pm

A great question…. Who is going to pay for all this? The short answer is the ROI on the investments should pay for themselves and the resources. For what it is work, i believe the cost benefit should be driven from communications & marketing first and IT should be a contributor and ‘reality checker’ in the process.

From jascha kaykas-wolff on March 12th, 2009 at 10:48 pm

OK, so I work at WebTrends (in IT) and I love my job. I fully understand that enabling new technology, providing a stable infrastructure and protecting our assets may compete at different ends of the IT tug-of-war spectrum. All of these competencies are very important, yet many people take for granted the hard work that most IT folks do to keep the lights on.

That said, I’ve also learned that educating customers and enabling them to leverage new technology is the best blend. We all know that people will find a way to bring “unsupported”
technology into an environment around of IT controls and policies. This isn’t a good idea, so its best for most IT departments to ENGAGE, look around, and become part of the solution which will more broadly contribute to the goals of the company.

Also, why is it that most IT Departments are always saying ‘No’ to technology? Shouldn’t they be saying ‘YES’! I’ve caught myself in both camps and find that introducing technology into an organization is much more exciting.

And yes, Jascha, that was a shameless plug for our upcoming customer conference…ENGAGE

From Bill Russell on March 13th, 2009 at 3:10 am

Nice post! I think the social media IT department needs to live in the social space – is a really awesome example. Crowdsource the IT, and keep up with all the latest tools at the same time. Flexible, agile, responsive like it should be.

From Maddie Grant on March 14th, 2009 at 12:31 am

Good post! A communications director is essential now with social media that has emerged. Luckily for me I am working for a great Chicago Web Design Company that embraces such communications.

From Brad on March 17th, 2009 at 8:14 pm

I am also researching who ought to do what and by which methods for our organization, so this is a pretty touchy topic. I have been reading a good deal of opinion…and the issue really comes down to the fact that an umbrella department that performs the work and coordinates Web presence (all of it – static, dynamic, social, data) is the best answer to overcoming the horrible silo-block-fail patterns.
There was a good blog post recently to an ongoing dialog on the debate over whether to go with IT or Marketing based web management I think speaks volumes. Check out – and scroll to the bottom where it says ‘My Two Cents’

From Shar on September 9th, 2009 at 4:23 am

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