Debating where social sits at #SMWLDN

On Wednesday evening, I attended a Social Media Week session, ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’. Check out the snap of immediate future‘s Pete looking pretty and enjoying a beverage out of his #SMWLDN cup!

As much as I enjoyed the case studies that the panel critiqued and applauded, for me, the session got really interesting when the debate turned to the familiar topic – ‘Who should own social media’?

The question of social media ownership has been much contested over the past couple of years. Social media has thrown a spanner in the works for brands and businesses because it can’t easily be squeezed into just one department. Yet, businesses are used to working in silos – this is how they’ve operated well over years and years. This was the crux of last night’s debate.

Some panelists emphasised the need for social to be embraced across entire businesses. Others argued against this aspiration, stating that businesses have always worked in silos. They questioned why us social media folk should shake up business as usual in order to make social media operate at its full potential.

A very interesting question – don’t you think?

Social media needs to be managed in a holistic manner, to ensure maximum benefit across an entire business, and not just for the marketing and customer service departments who have a vested interest in social channels.

In my view, the debate can be separated out into ownership and input. To be able to deliver a coordinated and coherent social media experience, a brand’s social media channels are best managed or owned by one core team. That team might be a blended mix of representatives from marketing and customer service, but they need to be closely interconnected and working together on a daily basis.

This team, who owns the branded social platforms, could then be held responsible for connecting the wider business with social media more generally. So, they are responsible for driving input from others across the company – whether that’s sharing insights with the product development team, training sales representatives or offering content support to the CEO. Social media needs to have someone fully behind it, to help drive it forward within the business.

But that is just my view, and of course, that way of thinking can’t and won’t apply to every organisation under the sun. Ultimately, my key message is that someone needs to be held responsible for social media, because without ownership, it can quickly become flaky and unstructured.

That’s my two pennies worth, what were the debates that really resonated with you during Social Media Week 2013? 

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