There seems to be a debate over the ownership of social media within organisations. This debate is particularly important and relevant for larger brands who are vulnerable to consumers and employees airing their dissatisfaction – causing many reputation management issues on social media sites. According to a recent survey – 67% of Australian executives regard their company’s reputation as vulnerable, but many are unaware of what consumers and ex-employees may be saying about them in Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and other social sites.
However the social opportunity is not just about reputation management. Organisations have the opportunity to create a lasting impression with consumers that supports the achievement of other brand and corporate objectives.
Thus the rise of the participative web presents organisations with many opportunities and it seems many departments are all vying for a piece of the action.
So let’s take a look at who is fighting for it, why and who should ultimately be responsible for social media.
Why? Marketing want control over the brand message and see the potential to leverage channels that contribute to positive and engaging brand experiences.
Why?To quote a recent discussion I had with a PR consultant “It makes sense for PR departments to manage social media because we are best trained to deal with reputation management”, as a result it is obvious why the PR department feel it is part of their remit.
Why? In this scenario it might be a case of why the customer service team does not want ownership. If resources are tight and the customer service department is measured on call statistics, do they have the time?
Why? Many SEO departments and even SEO agencies are vying for responsibility of social media as the viral nature of content distribution reduces the need to build artificial links. Social media also contributes to the quest of dominating SERPs both on and offsite.
Product Innovation & Research
Why? End users are discussing products and services through social channels which provide product development with the opportunity to gain valuable insight for product improvement. But will they take criticism personally and act inappropriately?
Whilst all valid arguments, I believe that the social media ownership discussion is similar to the CRM ownership discussion which plagued organisations a decade ago. Ultimately many social media strategies could have multiple objectives and/or require cross functional teams to own/champion the project.
Thus if this is the case and it is an organisational issue, what is of key importance is to ensure that social media has a voice at board/senior management level and that departments are working together to determine the best way to harness the power of the channel rather than adopting a silo approach.
Have you had an internal debate on the subject? How do you feel about the ownership issue? Please share your comments below.