Almost every business has an organizational hierarchy. Typically, the C-suite sits at the very top, followed by a vice president or senior executive with associates and interns at the bottom. Having this type of organizational order provides a clear line of authority and reporting.
But an overly hierarchical culture gets in the way of content creativity—especially when it comes to social media. It feeds into the myth that only those with ‘senior’ or ‘executive’ in front of their titles have ideas worth listening to and those at the bottom have less experience, wisdom and creativity. In actuality, when executives only solicit ideas from their peers, it holds brands back from reaching their true potential.
Reminder: just because someone has more experience than you, that doesn’t mean they are better than you.
— sheeta verma (she/her) (@sheetaverma) November 30, 2020
Let’s get rid of the phrase “that’s above my pay grade” when it comes to decision making and ideation — all opinions are valid, and voices should be heard. Regardless of role.
It should never be above or below your pay grade to collaborate.
— Tara Robertson (@taraerobertson) December 29, 2020
The beauty of creative marketing ideas is they can come from anyone, whether that’s your art director who’s been around for years or the fresh-faced intern who is fluent in TikTok lexicon. The problem for many brands, however, is their own hierarchy gets in the way of bringing those creative ideas to life.
Many social media managers have their professional growth stymied by managers who don't understand or respect their skills, or who reject their ideas out of caution or ignorance. It's hard to rise and succeed when you're not taken seriously or brought into company decisions.
— ella dawson, anxious bisexual (@brosandprose) June 18, 2020
Hear me out…
If brands are serious about being creative on social media, they need to ditch the hierarchical mentality. More importantly, they need to create space for every employee to propose ideas without fear of being shot down by the HIPPO in the room.
For managers overseeing a social team, trust your direct reports when it comes to being creative on social media. Get to know your social team, ask questions about their responsibilities and be vulnerable when you simply don’t know something. Have a social media style guide in place to ensure everyone is aligned on brand goals and values before ideas are executed. Above all, don’t immediately dismiss any idea because it comes from someone with less experience than yourself.
Equally important is ensuring your organization’s culture is psychologically safe for anyone—be it a new hire, a tenured veteran or intern—to speak up. As a leader, be a model for your direct reports by leading with authenticity and vulnerability, and let your junior marketers know it’s okay to make mistakes. By empowering your junior marketers to communicate their work to leadership, you create a culture of recognition that affirms the best ideas can truly come from all levels of the organization.
Because when we remove hierarchy from the ideation process, it can lead to social content like the Chipotle Lid Flip challenge that drew over 111,000 video submissions in its first six days. Or the Marlins Tweet based on a timely and popular internet meme that garnered over 15,000 Likes.
Organizational hierarchies are great for providing structure in any business. But I’m willing to wager that those sitting at the top of your organization’s hierarchy aren’t the ones thinking up the next “How it started… How it’s going” meme.
.@KingJames made his NBA debut 17 years ago today:
How it started How it's going pic.twitter.com/upkWu42iEK
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 29, 2020
How are you advocating for your teams within your own organization? We want to hear from you! Tweet at us @SproutSocial with how you’re creating a culture where ideas can flow freely from all levels of your organization.
Failing forward in social: The ultimate growth hackPublished on May 25, 2021 Reading time 5 minutes
Why you need to share an executive summary of your social media reports with leadershipPublished on March 25, 2021 Reading time 4 minutes
Calling social marketers “gurus” is not the compliment you think it isPublished on February 25, 2021 Reading time 3 minutes