Earlier this week at our local Third Tuesday meetup, I heard Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter talk about the different ways to manage corporate social media activities. Well-researched and reasoned.

But what struck me were some of the terrible names that companies were coming up with for these departments, such as command center or war room. Jeremiah’s suggestion was Center of Excellence, an improvement over military-style names, true, but it made me yawn.

Thirty years ago, when Tom Peters rocked the business world with In Search of Excellence, excellence rocketed to the top of the word parade. But three decades later, with another world-rocking phenomena, can’t we come up with name that’s shiny and new?

Names are important. Seeing as social media is all about being social and connecting, can’t we come up with something that’s more personal and fun?

To help all the companies who are grappling with this dilemma, allow me to toss out a few suggestions. Like when I was naming my babies, I’m considering nasty ways the mean kids could twist the name.

Social media hubs

This complements the hub-and-spoke model that Altimeter’s research revealed is becoming the most popular structure. However, don’t forget that the hub approach forces air travelers to meander hub-to-hub before they reach their destination, so it’s probably not a good name with businesses that inconveniences customers, the people business social media are supposedly set up to serve.

Social machine

Because many social media functions comprise multiple hubs and spokes, they resemble a simple machine. Besides, the guys who came up with the war names would be placated. On the other hand, Quebec folk might think of the biker outlaw group Rock Machine.

Sweet spots

Jeremiah called one of the models honeycomb, which is mostly aspirational, as most companies haven’t yet evolved to this decentralized, individually empowered structure. Seeing as social media is mostly handled by women, as Jeremiah confirmed, the name would go over well. To facilitate the rebranding from command center, the room could be candy floss pink. Better stop this decorating fantasy before I squander the day with decor porn. What’s more, sweet names and pink rooms might ghettoize social media.

Bee hive

Sweet like the previous name, but connoting lots of activity. Only trouble is the many drones are guys and the one queen a female, the opposite of many social media departments.

Still, it has nice ring. No decorating fantasies come to mind. Though the alpha crew could rename it the B team, which implies second rate.

Hot wheels

Because the hub and spoke model comes from wheel design, maybe this one would fly. It would remind the guys of the hot wheels toys they loved as kids, though the “hot” connotation may be uncomfortable for some of the women, though the energy implied works well.

Queen bees

This involves inverting the gender balance of the bee hive, with lots of women in charge. Then again, too many queens and too few drones might lead to some nasty office politics. Or a lot of getting things done. Hmmm.

Any ways, enough musing from me. Do you like any of these suggestions? Do you have any to add? No worn-out military or management jargon, please.

If you’d like to see more about the talk, check out this sketchnote from Sacha Chua.

sacha chua on jeremiah owyang

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What do you call your social media center?

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