I remember in the early 90’s, working at a marketing agency, all the talk was about breaking down the marketing silos. You know… various groups or departments off working on their own, oblivious to what the other group or department was doing. There was a general advertising silo that didn’t work with the demand generation silo. The Internet silo was the maverick, touting the new (relatively new) medium and not sure how it could play a role in other silo efforts.

The talk all centered on how it’s best to break down these silos and speak as one marketing voice; to be on brand consistently with all messaging and work together toward one common marketing goal. Hooray!

Whether or not all companies succeeded in flattening their marketing organization or not, it’s interesting to me how those companies that did create a flat organizational strategy may be finding that with social media marketing this may not be a good plan after all.

To participate in social media successfully, that is to say to gain followers and establish thought leadership two very crucial elements to social media participation are needed: transparency and speed. To be transparent you need to be real and to be speedy you need to react quickly and share information when it’s available and relevant. In an organization that is flat, the time it takes to makes decisions and establish the message, and execute is time wasted (or time provided to your competition).

One company that uses social media very well and has to some extent erected marketing silos is Intel. Each product/service group has their own Twitter, Facebook, and communities that are thriving! Of course there are corporate guidelines and do’s/don’ts that need to be followed, and we’re not talking about the same types of silos that were around back in the early 90’s, but they are given some latitude to capitalize on the now – the only real (and transparent) way to effectively use social media – in my humble opinion.

I’d love to hear what your experiences are – especially if you’re in marketing at a fairly large organization.