Who should own social media?

by Steve Seager on October 21, 2009 . Views: 15

If you are a business getting into social media, who should ‘own’ it? PR? Marketing? Sales? Online marketing? Brand manager? Where should it sit in your organisation?

Where should social media sit in your organisation

Just a few months ago I strongly argued that PR should take ‘ownership’. My rationale for this is that genuine two way dialogue is at the core of social media. And traditional mass media practitioners are not yet used to these new rules.

Good PR practitioners are used to dealing one on one with stakeholders, consumers, and the like. Therefore they are best placed to ‘own’ social media.

However, just a couple of days ago, Flinndal, one of our clients, asked the same question. And my answer was a little different. Ultimately, it depends on your business objectives. Social media are just channels.

Here’s a few quick examples:

If you are using Twitter as a promotional channel, then it makes sense that marketing and sales should have ‘ownership’.

However if you want to use Twitter to improve your customer service, then it makes sense that customer support should take ownership.

If you are using a blog as primarily a channel to increase transparency of your company’s business, then public relations (along with your internal ‘client’: your CEO, marketing director, customer service manager) should be responsible.

If you are using a blog primarily to drive traffic to your sales platform (e-commerce) then it makes sense that online marketing should take ‘ownership’.

And if you are aiming to position yourself within your industry, gain credibility and influence public relations should take ownership.

So it comes down to a simple question: what do you want to achieve? Having a clear goal  allows you to define the content you publish in that channel, and then, who should manage that channel.

After all, as Chris Brogan put it: “What are people doing taking titles like “Social Media Manager?” To me, this is a scary thing. Why? Because it’s like being the fax manager or the email manager. You’re naming yourself after a tool.”

And you don’t want to be a tool, right?

  • Enjoyed that. Thanks Steve. There’s so much analysis, opinion and hype it’s always nice to get a distallation, a bit of clear thinking.

  • Thanks Martin. Glad you enjoyed it. It sometimes takes half a dozen times of answering a question before you find a clear way of expressing it.
    This post is a result of that process. I bet, as a copywriter, you find the same?

  • Hey there Steve,
    Ha, I was going to use a similar image for my post – spooky 😉
    Agreed – wherever the organization needs to be is who ultimately has “control” of social media. Work alongside a robust social policy and you’re pretty much good to go and leading the way – just don’t get caught up in politics about who owns cross-culture social media. Instead, make it happen and make it collaborative.

  • A copywriter who should know better than to post spelling errors 🙂
    Yes, having to explain things is a great way to gather your thoughts and learn too.

  • Hey Danny, Spooky indeed! Finding Nemo is a classic 🙂 Making it happen…there’s a challenge 🙂

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