Yanoska does want a somewhat bigger part in his company's social media operation. He runs IT for the online unit of American Greetings, which operates AmericanGreetings.com, BlueMountain.com, eGreetings.com and greeting card sites for MSN and Yahoo. He says IT would like to be able to use the company's social networking tools more freely, so it could, for example, have an easier way to inform customers about new features or site maintenance.
Right now, designated non-IT gatekeepers post on the sites, and IT has to make its case when it wants to post something. Even though IT only makes such requests once every couple of weeks, "sometimes we get it, sometimes we don't," Yanoska says. So he is pushing to get IT more of a voice, and he would like more options for posting on Facebook, especially when maintenance upgrades are about to happen. "We're finding that's a really good place [to tell] customers who are really invested in the brand, 'We plan to do maintenance.' [That way] you don't get those posts, 'Hey what's going on?' because they already know," Yanoska says.
At Texas Health, Marx went the other direction and has ratcheted down his personal involvement. That's because he drove the company's adoption of the technology, using Twitter for collaboration and communications, starting Facebook fan pages, LinkedIn groups, a Texas Health Twitter feed, and microsites to connect with employees and patients. He says a microsite is crucial for getting employees in particular to adopt electronic health records, using it to encourage them to try social media tools and become more comfortable with the technology.
As more parts of the business got involved in social media, Texas Health created a 10-person social media steering committee. Members included the president of the hospital and the heads of marketing and communications, human resources, legal and compliance. Marx is also on the committee. Other groups within the company, primarily marketing, handle day-to-day social media operations now, which Marx says makes sense. He plays a strategic role, devising new ideas and figuring out new ways to leverage social media.
IT becoming more involved
IT may be stepping up its involvement as use of social media spreads. "Our reliance on IT support is heavier now" than it was two years ago, says Jesse Redniss, vice president of digital at NBC Universal/USA Network. Redniss's group not only helps market content and shows, but also runs a thriving casual gaming business, with its own profit-and-loss statement.
NBC Universal adopted a setup where IT operates infrastructure and tools used across the company, including a video content management system, data-mining tools and a single sign-on system for visitors to all of its Web properties. To handle department-specific IT projects, the company has a unit called Digital Products and Services (DPS).
Redniss says he used to think IT was too cumbersome to respond quickly enough for social media needs, but he now says "we didn't fully understand how much we needed them."
Over the past couple of years, as NBC Universal has developed broad corporate efforts involving Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media sites, data management and data mining have grown more important components. "We really do need to figure out the right kind of funnels to build to bring everything to them so they can store it, and we can sift through it," he says.