Bridging Two Worlds

A conversation about online media and what it means to your organization

Who “Owns” Social Media?

Posted by AHA Creative on May 26, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There is a very interesting article by Adam Broitman on iMedia Connection on “Social Media: Whose Job Is It Anyway?” It is a question that is often asked by a range of professionals from front line staff that want to participate, to the communicators, to the CEO and board of directors. One of the key points we make when answering it—and the answer is a little different each time because the organization is different—is that if it is everyone’s job, it will end up being no one’s job. There has to be someone within the organization that “owns” social media.

That isn’t to say that several areas of an organization shouldn’t be involved in social media and I believe PR/Communications should have a seat at the planning table. There is often a blur between Marketing and PR in the online world and it’s important to recognize that. Another area that should be included is IT. At the core of doing anything online is the technology. Consulting with your IT team is important; they can help you avoid some challenges that only someone with technical knowledge could foresee. However, having said that, I believe that IT is a contributor to the common goal, not the manager of the process.

Much like communication impacts other areas of an organization, so does social media. Social media is about joining the conversation, it’s about connecting and communicating, and it’s an important component of your overall communications and marketing strategy.

We have had several clients come to us and say they have been asked to build a social media strategy. It’s always interesting when we dig a little deeper and see what they actually want to accomplish by creating this strategy. Looking at social media, communications and marketing as silos within an organization doesn’t work anymore, and it is a perception that can create challenges both internally and externally. In my opinion, there needs to be an integrated approach and Communications needs to be, if not the driving force, a strong partner in the planning and implementation.

So, whose job is it anyway? In most organizations right now, that’s a question that should be asked.

One Response to “Who “Owns” Social Media?”

  1. Excellent post. The role of community manager is new but becoming an accepted corporate role in social media circles.

    Just as PR representatives have become accepted as a proxy for the organization they represent in the journalism community, the community or social media manager is now becoming accepted in the same way.

    Examples on Twitter include Andrew Nystrom at the LA times (@LATimesNystrom) or Scott Monty of Ford (@scottmonty).

    Rather than hide behind generic brand identities, they give a human face that encourages interaction.

    What distinguishes them most for me is that they are listening! It’s not unusual to hear directly and promptly from @LATimesNystrom if I mention an issue with any of the LA Times stories or Tweets. I’d say that if you’re trying to determine who best ‘owns’ social media in an organization, base it on who’s listening most attentively. And that applies to all sizes of organization — from behemoth to boutique.

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