Who in Marketing Should Own Social Media?

The subject of who should own social media accounts is a highly controversial issue in almost every B2B company I speak with.  The good news is that there is a lot of enthusiasm and passion around social media in marketing organizations.  The bad news is that there can be cutthroat competition for ownership that creates a civil war amongst your team.  The most likely candidates are the corporate communications team and the demand generation function.  Both organizations have a strong case for ownership.

Corporate communications is tasked with managing the perception of the company in the marketplace – with the media, with industry analysts and with other influencers.  How can you manage the reputation, brand and perception of the company if you are not shaping influencers’ views on social media?

Demand generation is accountable for bringing in leads to the sales organization.  They want to be where prospects are discussing their needs and researching best practices.  Increasingly prospects are using social media for these activities.  How can you maximize lead generation if you are not pushing your upcoming campaigns on the highly trafficked social sites?

There is no right answer for who should own your social channels.  I think the organizational model depends upon:

  1. How your customers use social media
  2. The skills of your marketing employees
  3. How important social media is to your strategy

Here are some techniques I recommend to decide who should own which channels:

 A Demand Side View (from your Customers)

What social channels are your customers really using?  Understanding this dynamic can help you decide how to assign ownership.  For example, you may find that your customers are not really using Twitter for business purposes.  However, the influencers such as press, analysts and independent bloggers are on Twitter.  In this case the decision of ownership becomes much easier.  You should have corporate communications manage the Twitter account.

If your customers are not Twitter then where are they?  You might find that many prospects use SlideShare and YouTube to educate themselves and research options for problems they have.  Content on these sites ranks high on search engine results pages.  So again, the decision of ownership becomes clearer.  SlideShare and YouTube are where you should direct much of your content marketing efforts managed by the demand generation team.

What about the other channels?  You might find that they tend to engage in Linked In groups to keep up on best practices, but rarely engage their business partners on Facebook.  Instead, only job seekers, employees and their families are really active on Facebook.  In these cases you might assign LinkedIn to the demand generation team and Facebook to corporate communications.

What about Google Plus?  No one really pays attention to Google Plus (except for a few believers like myself).  So I recommend assigning it to someone who is enthusiastic about it, which brings me to the next consideration.

A Supply Side View (from your Employees)

What social channels are your employees passionate about?  Understanding this dynamic can help you decide how to assign ownership.  While the demand side view I outlined above is the most important consideration, you might use a supply side view for tie-breaker situations.  It sounds obvious, but you should avoid assigning a social channel to someone who is not highly enthusiastic about it.

For example, you may find that someone on your demand generation team is really passionate about SlideShare and Vimeo.   While someone on your corporate communications team is super excited about WordPress blogs and Flickr.  Of course, everyone wants to own Facebook and Twitter independent of whether anyone of significance is engaged on those channels or not.

It’s Still Fuzzy

If the demand side and supply views do not offer a clear choice then consider splitting your social channels into two parts based upon the types of messages you desire to send.  For example, you might have a blog site, Twitter handle and YouTube channel that are designed to share your company’s voice.  These would be owned by corporate communications.  On these channels you would offer thought leadership content, quarterly earnings announcements and some lighter, fun content to show your personality.

You might create a separate set of channels for demand generation.  These would not be designed to promote your companies voice, but rather to be a trusted source of educational content on your industry.  In fact, you may elect to minimize your branding on these channels.  The goal would be to engage prospects early in the buying cycle to shape their opinions about your industry and different vendor solutions.

  One thought on “Who in Marketing Should Own Social Media?

  1. March 12, 2014 at 7:56 PM

    I agree – Ownership for social media has always been a challenge, but I think the most important thing to remember is who you are talking to and who can consistently manage this online conversation from within the organization. Good post!

  2. robinhlane
    March 12, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    Completely agree there is a valid case for both areas. Social is a huge lead gen play and can (and should ) have a serious impact but obviously, I am somewhat biased being in Corp Comm and think the crafted post should come from that side:) That said, your reasoning on how to make the final decision makes a lot of sense. The skill level of the team should really help decide. Social media is a skill and can be learned but all the passion in the world can’t make up for a lack of understanding of the dynamics of each platform. Best option in my opinion, work together on each aspect of social and use the best skills of each.

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