Should social be owned by PR or marketing (and how important is sponsored content)?


IF have been working in social for more than eleven years, and this question has consistently been asked throughout.

“PRs will shape your narrative and manage your reputation – as we’ve been doing for years with your media relations”, some might say.

Marketers will challenge: “now social is the most visible channel, ownership is critical, for us to truly integrate campaigns and deliver the best ROIs for the business.”

Having worked for big PR and creative firms (and delivered global campaigns for B2B and consumer brands at both), I’ve seen both sides of the argument closely.

So what is IF’s view?

As a consultancy delivering projects for brand, product, service, corporate communication, PR, C-suite, R&D, marketing and digital teams, we’re able to offer an impartial view. The truth being, our opinion has altered over the years. We’re a data-led business, employing many data geeks (test us, we’re as geeky as anyone you’ll know!), and our change of opinion results from how platforms (Facebook, Twitter, et al) have evolved.

Reality being, to now thrive on social, you have to maximise the potent potential of sponsored, or ‘paid’, content. Channel algorithms have significantly evolved in the last few years; an organic update or tweet will no longer be seen by your entire community. Nowhere near! It’s actually a single digit percentile.

Adweek published this article in April stating “the average reach from Facebook pages in March was just 2.6 percent, slipping to 2.27 percent for pages with more than 1 million likes.”

Putting that into context, in a 50,000 user community, only 1,300 people will actually see the post. Given both Facebook and Twitter’s appetites for big data, and the well published development (and acquisition) of data teams, the ‘pay to play’ models with each platform will increase, and organic reach will continue to dwindle.

Sponsored content doesn’t have to be costly. In fact, the campaigns that have put us in line to win ‘Best Use of Social Media Advertising’ and ‘Social Media Agency of The Year’ both had modest paid media budgets of £18,000 – £25,000 (additional campaign content development and consultancy fees applied). It is what we did with that budget that’s innovative.

Sadly, for the sake of our IP (and future client work), I obviously can’t disclose the finer points of our multi-layered and scientific targeting strategy (using a myriad of tools and some very, very smart and highly innovative thinking). But what I can share with you are the results, so you know this isn’t just agency fluff that’s nice to hear:

– 16p CPC (cost per click) on Facebook

– 11p CPC on Twitter

– Some posts receiving more than 20% engagement

– Through trackable links, evidenced social outperformed all other channels in conversion to buy

Those of you who understand paid will appreciate these results are truly world class – and yes, we can evidence the authenticity of these results; just call us!

Now to loop back to the title – should social be owned by PR or marketing? Our view is that it should be owned by whatever team best understands sponsored content, or the team that holds the best relationship with a firm like ourselves.

Your content plan should map your ‘always on’ and your campaign content, with tasked assigned owners and influencers (and those roles divided amongst your PR, marketing and/or digital talent).

This way, you get the PRs shaping your narrative, your marketers serving messages with strong CTAs, but most importantly, with the right paid strategy and (modest) investment, your content will actually be seen by relevant people, and certainly more than just a 1,600 socialites (in a 50,000 community).

Now to my next question – is your social community made up of the right people? Are they people who fit your brand’s pen portraits? Or did you gather them through competitions? Compers (as we call them) are motivated through gratuity or reward, they’re not necessarily relevant to, or motivated by, your product or service offering.

So how do you build a relevant community? Well, I’ll address that in my next blog.

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