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As discussed by Brandle’s founder CEO Chip Roberson in a recent Forbes article, social media governance is a coordinated set of procedures, protocols, policies, workflows and tools. An organization should know what to rely on in order to ensure that valuable digital assets (social media accounts and websites) are secured, risks are mitigated, and compliance is maintained.

However, in order to activate a robust social media governance plan, a critical question that large brand companies and multi-site organizations must address is whether to centralize this function, or to allocate authority and responsibility to various local entities (e.g. international offices, regional centers, retail stores, franchisees, etc).

Based on our experience working with numerous corporations, the best approach is to centralize social media governance at corporate headquarters, and delegate day-to-day social media management and marketing to local entities. Here are the key reasons why centralization makes sense:

  • Standardization

Standardizing rules at the corporate level helps ensure that social media governance fulfills its primary function, which is to mitigate organization-wide risks and increase control. Without a single set of standards, various local entities will be working in different ways for different reasons, and the overall social media governance program will have gaps and vulnerabilities.

  • Compliance

Centralizing social media governance also enables organizations to monitor and ensure compliance, which is necessary for standardization to work. After all, establishing a single set of rules and procedures is meaningless if there is no practical way to monitor and enforce them. Especially for highly regulated industries, such as the financial industry or healthcare industry, non-compliance can mean penalties and fines. Therefore, monitoring and enforcing brand, company, industry, regulatory standards has to be a top priority.

  • Accountability

At some point, issues with standardization and compliance will emerge — not because organizations are incompetent or disinterested in social media governance, but simply because the social media risk landscape is constantly changing. Centralizing social media governance helps organizations assemble core roles (e.g. social media governance manager, social media network specialist, social media tools specialist, etc.), assign ownership to key tasks and activities, and establish accountability. As a result, targeted changes can be made at a global level, which then flow out to the local level.

Empowering Centrally to Enable Locally

Multi-site and large brand organizations that centralize social media governance should ensure that local teams don’t perceive this as a “heavy handed move” by corporate HQ; or worse, an expression of mistrust. On the contrary, a key reason for centralizing this function is to liberate local teams from a substantial governance burden, so they can spend more time engaging their marketplace and achieving — or better yet, exceeding — performance targets.

Training is key so that each employee understands their role in social media governance and how they are all protecting the company by following a governance plan. If a large shift in centralization is right for your business, be sure to include this reasoning in your ongoing social media training. From corporate HQ to local branches, social media governance runs smoothly when it is understood by everyone!

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Now that you’re ready to make the decision of whether to centralize your social media governance, it’s time to solidify a social media governance plan. Check out my company’s eBook “Social Media Governance Plan” which guides you through the process of how to create a comprehensive and corporate-wide Social Media Governance Plan for a Social Enterprise. There are twelve key steps included in this book and plenty of examples to help you set your business goals for governance and help you manage the risks inherent in a social enterprise.