We’ve been talking a lot about various aspects of engagement over the past few weeks on the blog. Lauren Vargas wrote a great post about adding social aspects to your CRM strategy, and her point below really stuck out for me.

Before adding social to the mix, you must ensure your organization has a sound infrastructure in place to receive social data and connect to transactional data. Social media elements must be an extension of the CRM infrastructure and the data presentation must not simply be slapped on top, but flow seamlessly into the design.

Earlier this week Teresa Basich detailed 5 ways that engagement is more than talking, and  I was similarly struck by point #3 in her post:

Making the customer experience easier/more pleasant/quicker/all of the above. Does this include talking with them? Usually. But not always. Improved engagement in this case can also mean bumping up the usability of your website. Does your site allow folks to find what they need easily? Does it pique their interest? Does the flow of information on your site allow visitors to navigate through it quickly? This is just one example, but do you see where I’m heading here?

What am I leading to here? I’m leading to the point that companies need to stop thinking of engagement as something “the marketing team handles” and start thinking about it more how my colleagues describe it above. It’s an activity that goes on across all parts of the organization. We call it “answering the social phone” internally, and that phone ideally sits on everyone’s desk and allows all employees to better understand how the conversations that are happening on the social web affect their job.

Ford Motor Co. has been leading the charge in the auto industry with their innovative campaigns for a few years now.  Many of us remember their Fiesta Agents challenge, and many more tuned in to see the reveal of their new Ford Explorer via Facebook. The Awesome Blog wrote a great review of the reveal, and noted:

Ford needed to connect with their potential consumers, generating excitement about the new model and ensuring buyers were armed with in-depth knowledge about the vehicle. Fortunately, Ford tapped the full potential of Facebook in order to create a truly engaging and interactive conversation about the new Explorer, and their approach is worth breaking down for any brand considering a Facebook campaign of their own.

Ford has been out there engaging with their community for years, and the insights that their community provides aren’t just data points limited to marketing. They’re insights that can be used across all business units. Case in point? A tweet yesterday by Ford noting that they’re passing product feedback over to the design team.

There are plenty of examples of companies breaking out of the “engagement is for marketing!” silo, and I wish I had time to share them all. To add two more into the mix, what about Comcast’s great use of service-related engagement, or the Red Cross’ social media disaster relief and notification efforts?

For companies that limit engagement to their marketing departments, the question becomes something similar to what Lauren described above – how can you connect social to transactional data across the enterprise? In other words, what internal channels do you need to create or open up to let everyone take advantage of this feedback? What parts of your organization would benefit immediately from being on the front lines, and how can you put them there?

I’m interested to hear your opinion. What other examples jump to mind of companies that have broken out of the “engagement is for marketing” silo? Share them in the comments!

* Photo provided by CraftyGoat