Who should own social media within a business?

It’s not like we haven’t been here before pondering this troublesome question… Social media ownership has been a much debated topic over the past few years and it remains extremely pertinent as social media marketing matures, platform demographics shift and customer behaviours evolve. Unfortunately there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach or magic solution.

Social media is awkward for a number of reasons:

  1. It demands a mixed bag of skill sets
  2. It’s difficult to get a single view of activity across all social media channels
  3. It’s non-stop

Let’s drill down…

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Awkwardness number 1

Businesses traditionally work in silos – a set-up which doesn’t sit comfortably with social media. Social media isn’t just about marketing; it’s fast becoming a prominent customer service channel and business insight tool. As a result social media management is often a shared undertaking with a number of teams participating, including marketing, HR, customer relations, public relations and legal. But when so many teams are involved, who should be taking control?

It is also important that across all stakeholder pools, the appropriate level of training and support is provided and a stringent sign-off process developed. Bringing together the best of a mixed bag of teams is the best way to ensure that social media is being utilised to its full potential, but it needs to be controlled.

Awkwardness number 2

Those who community manage a business’ social media channels usually have the best understanding of what motivates their online audiences, what works and what doesn’t and so on… But for those on the outskirts of activity it can be difficult to get a clear view of what’s going on. In this way, part of the community management role needs to be communicating learnings and insight to other parties involved, particularly those developing content.

The different platforms also serve different objectives and different audiences, so it’s important to understand how these channels fit within your customer journey. Social activity needs to be tailored appropriately to make sure the channels are being used for the right reasons, and content is being created with purpose.

Awkwardness number 3

Everyone wants to take a break and switch off from work once in a while, even when they work in social media!  Social media management tends to become an issue at times when businesses would traditionally shut down (I’m sure most of us enjoyed a well-earned break over Christmas!). Teams attempt to temporarily relinquish ownership, so it’s not their problem whilst they are stuffing their faces with turkey!

Unfortunately, social media is 24/7 and needs management during the evenings and at weekends – ‘anti-social’ hours ironically. And it’s for this reason that proper social media management processes need to be established to ensure that the buck doesn’t stop with one poor soul who might end up working every hour God sends. Social needs to be a shared responsibility.

To summarise, the potential of social media can only be unlocked when you have the right people and processes behind it, and that does come down to someone, somewhere taking ownership. I’d like to refer back to an old blog post of mine, where I ponder what it takes to be truly excellent in social media. Good food for thought when contemplating the answer to this blog post’s title…

And finally over to you, what’s your view on best practice social media management within a business? Whose responsibility do you think it is to drive social media innovation and development? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

© Frog 974 Fotolia Attribution 2.0 Generic

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