Who owns Social Media?
Before you decide to enter into the social media arena for your brand, you first need to reach internal agreement about which department is going to ‘own’ it. It’s highly likely there will be several departments in your company, who all feel that social media belongs to them. In fact, they may all have already started their own initiatives, without consulting each other.
Who could lay claim to owning social?
- Communications and PR;
- Marketing; or
- Customer Service.
Communications & PR
Corporate communications are a really good candidate in my opinion. They are usually well trained in how consumers may respond and how to best formulate a certain communication. However, who advises them of the actual brand message that needs to be communicated….
..Right. Marketing people do. They know exactly what the brand stands for, its personality, its positioning, its essence. They have an in-depth understanding of the target market, and ultimately social has a role to play in achieving a certain business objective, e.g shifting buying behaviour. However, in my experience, marketing departments are so busy running campaigns, that they have little time left to have real-time conversations with consumers in social media. A social activity may therefore be “on message” but risks lacking engagement.
Your customer service department may also seem a fair choice to actually interact and engage with your target market. They can respond quickly to any activity. They can assist, recommend, and solve problems for your consumers. Which is great. However, this works great for people who already are your consumers, but for those you still need to recruit, you will still need the marketing department.
Behind the scenes
A few other, internally facing, departments have important roles to play behind the scenes and should be consulted in the set up of social media programs. HR can assist with a solid social policy, outlining what employees can and can’t do. Legal departments are also a great help in helping you understand the legal implications of your activities, how to run promotions and how to mitigate the risk in case of a crisis. Also, technology is a great enabler for social media, and your IT department can help you implement the best tools to run your program.
So, in reality everybody brings their own strength to the social media table. In an ideal world the social media team has many of the above qualities. Social is a tool for the business as a whole, not for certain silos within it. Therefore many of the above mentioned departments should be involved when you develop a program. The most logical departments to lead though are either marketing or communications & PR.