Who Runs Social?

Any time I’m working with a client and the subject of social media comes up, there’s usually a pretty good discussion of how social is seen within the organization.  More specifically, there’s generally an internal tug of war of sorts over messaging and ownership.  I thought maybe my keyhole into this issue was sort of unique but as it turns out it’s actually very common.TCG_0913_SocialMedia

The folks at The Creative Group did a survey of more than 400 advertising and marketing executives about who should own social media and that internecine battle was evident from the results:

Overall 39% of advertising and marketing executives said they think social media belongs in the public relations/communications wheelhouse, compared to 35% who said it should be the responsibility of the marketing department. Meanwhile 15% said it should be delegated to customer service, and 5% said it should be the direct responsibility of the company’s CEO (6% said they don’t know).

Of course, this sort of misses the point.  As I discuss with clients, social media isn’t focused on the brand or on the company – it needs to be focused on the customer.  Figuring out who “owns” it is about you.  Instead focus on the customer’s needs and decide who is best equipped to serve them in the social channel.   The answer may not be tied to one department.  Hmm – working together as a team – what a concept!

The other thing the survey raises is that with multiple internal stakeholders there is bound to be multiplicity of thought on messaging.  The entire organization needs to be aligned on that –  it can’t come with a constant PR or Marketing or Customer Service point of view.  As with many things in the business world, often the politics supersede the thought process.  This is usually the biggest hurdle to an effective social plan.  Once the politics get sorted, the messaging can flow as a customer-focused stream.  Resolving customer issues and carrying on a conversation that engages the customer (and NO they’re not only wanting to know about your latest and greatest product) is social’s role.

Who runs social?  Your customers do.  Any questions?

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