Tuesday, 2 November 2010

No single discipline ‘owns’ social media.

What's with the debate about who owns social media - is it marketing, is it communications, is it sales, is it customer service?

You might as well say, who owns the phone: comms or customer service? Print media: Advertising or PR? Facebook: comms, advertising, customer service and marketing? (Or just you and your mates?)

I remember this debate about search, when it was still a fairly new marketing tool 10 years or so ago. We were involved with Overture as it launched into the UK, and there was a big issue around whether sales, web development, IT, marketing or ecommerce heads ‘owned’ search. Now, of course, it’s seen as a broad sales and marketing discipline and is integrated (or should be) to every part of the business, depending on what outcome you’re trying to achieve. Communicators use search to support campaigns; as do advertisers; as do marketing heads in launching a new product; as do customer support teams to help people looking to resolve an issue; and so on.  It fits into the overall business strategy.

The same will happen with social media. Every department in the business will ‘own’ part of it. PR / comms are becoming much more social. Advertisers are using Facebook, or highly targeted social advertising, and incorporating social media to their campaigns (is the Meerkat advertising or comms, now Orlov has his own Twitter feed?). Search is becoming social; BT Care is a great example of customer service over Twitter; and you can sell through Facebook.

The ‘who owns what’ debate is completely irrelevant. More to the point - where are your audiences, and what do they want to do over what channel? Ultimately, consumers own social media, and it’s up to businesses to respond accordingly.

1 comment:

Jason W. said...

I agree 100% with your point of view. Yes, consumers own social media, and businesses need to respond accordingly with a content-driven, softer sell approach that engages, rather than repels consumers. All marketing disciplines can and should have a seat at the table, but the PR function is particularly well equipped to deliver content and shape dialogue that provides value, rather than pushing out overly commercial and company-centric content.

Jason Winocour
Social and Digital Media Practice Leader
Hunter Public Relations