who owns social media

March 10, 2010 · 0 comments

below is the unabridged version of an article i wrote for our company newsletter.

so who owns social media? that it is so hotly contested is itself dripping with irony. the answer is simply no one owns it and everyone owns it. okay, so that's still a little cloudy. let me explain.

when i say no one owns it, i mean in the strictest sense that no one person or group outright has dominion over the channel (if you can call it such). that any one part of a company's business is singularly responsible is a recipe for failure.

instead, everyone owns it. the collective of all an organizations disciplines internally and all its partners externally. true social media practice is built on a key precept of the channel: collaborative approaches. remember, social media isn't just about consumers participating in marketing, it's a structural shift with tools that can enable both sides.

naturally, this falls to areas in the company whose function us communication (Marketing, PR, etc). yes, they lead the charge but the whole of the company plays a role. every employee represents a network that is a communications vehicle of great power and influence in building successful activations and corporate prosperity. everyone has a vested interest across the organization, so each must own it in their own way.

apart from the broader employee base, the communications departments, as stewards of the corporate and brand trademarks, are the internal champions for socializing the organization with their consumers, they need to own it by reinforcing its place with the broader marketing plan and invigorating it into all areas.

of course, the comms groups rely on a suite of external partners (like us) who support their efforts. when it comes to social media, it is not a turf war for ownership, but a shared responsibility. social media is a unique situation where the channel crosses all disciplines. all partners own it collectively in so far as we can facilitate it through our respective areas of expertise for clients.

the best outcomes are always going to emerge from collaboration and social media is no different. in fact, it is the space most in need of it given its scope and requirements for success. no one can own it outright, but we all, as contributors to the business, need to own it so that it is firmly entrenched into all areas of our clients' business.

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