First things first: Who interfaces the Social Media in your company most of the times and Why? The answer is clearly the "Marketing" guy from the Marketing dept. But why? This is slightly tricky. But here is a try. Because, the very first expectation of the management is to eke out maximum benefit from this newly discovered channel. But that's where the point gets missed. Social media is truly social in nature. It's a place for everyone. It brings people of all functions from within a company.
Linkedin for example is a victim of such false expectations form a social media channel. The vast no. of communities inside it have been created and moderated to seek out pre-determined marketing results. The comments have vanished and recently Linkedin had to make an amend to its email notifications where instead of saying "zero" comments they have started saying "add a comment", just to sound more positive. Plus they have brought in "open groups" concept to get more participation and conversation flowing into the groups. Similar has been the fate of many other social media channels; the falling levels of engagement. One can today see that he is a member of many groups on Facebook, Linkedin or Orkut, but they are visited very rarely and eventually the interest level falls. The monotonous comments on Twitter & irrelevant followers are also an ample evidence of falling engagement.
Social Media should be just what it is. Truly social. The suggestion that others in your organization should also participate is a little scary to begin with. But with careful mentoring by the marketing department and the management, a company can in fact see a surge in their social media presence. Different functions of the organization bring in their core expertise to the channel, giving authenticity to the conversation that a company is having in the channel. In fact, I have observed that groups who are moderated by functional experts/ subject matter experts are far more engaged and active than those formed by marketing guys with a pre-defined goal of ROI.
It's time, we allow the social media to take its due hold in the organization freeing itself from the water-tight compartment of the marketing dept.