Monday, November 26, 2007

Who's the boss?

It seems social media has integrated into big-name corporations so quickly that someone forgot to name the boss ... or did they really forget?

It is hard to clearly state who should be in charge of social media due to numerous opinions around what social media actually is, for example, a marketing and public relations tool for an organization, an actual branch of the organization, or should it belong to the I.T. department. The series of question surrounding social media has spawned a plethora of heated debates in the blogosphere on the issue.

Mitch Joel of "Six Pixels of Separation" feels that social media efforts lie in the hands of digital marketing agencies as opposed to the actual corporations themselves.

"I think it’s Digital Marketing agencies who need to step up and own the Social Media marketing landscape. Agencies who are primed in the interactive marketing space start off with a core understanding of how people connect online, and how different users interact within online communities ... Interactive is still an after-thought to many agencies. Public Relations firms have the communications and conversations component down, but (usually) lack in the Web development department in terms of producing and marketing the initiative."

Joel does not refer to how social media should be used, rather he talks about who should set goals, platforms, and other strategic aspects of social media. However, many social media experts do not think social media is something to be owned, it is simply a tool to enhance the ever-present public relations and marketing program.

Shel Holtz comments on his blog, a shel of my former self, in disagreement with Joel.

"Even with this explanation, I’m troubled by the “ownership” issue. Few of the clients with whom I’ve worked engage a digital marketing agency. They wouldn’t be inclined to start working with one just so they can abdicate ownership of their social media activities to an outside organization ... Nobody can develop an organization’s approach to social media better than the people inside the organization. Vendors can provide tremendous, invaluable advice, but ultimately, it’s the company that must be accountable for its own participation in the conversation."

The debate on the subject of social media ownership extends into complicated and deep territories; however, it is interesting to see how the experts in social media debate the issue with no conclusion in sight, leaving the topic to be open-ended for each organization to decide.

1 comment:

Tolu O. said...

Tony Danza.

I'm just kidding, but really, I do not think there can be a boss for social media. Every aspect of business, not just the PR department, can implement social media and they can all benefit from it.

Just as all forms of communication are integrating, it may be the best thing for all departments producing it to converge-- at least on the issue of social media.

If the PR people can create a method of communicating with the publics and the Digital people can bring the conversation to them, then I see this as a win-win for everyone.

However, if I had to agree with someone, it would be Shel Holtz. The corporation ultimately decides what kind of message they put out and they ultimately decide what method they want to use.

But since social media is still growing and more aspects are being added and/or changed, I still go with Tony Danza.