Google that question and you get thousands of of answers. Books have been written about it, about any Social Media conference will have a session about this topic and you can find daily new blog posts discussing the organizational model for Social Media. The majority claim Social Media should be centered around the marketing department, a vocal minority thinks PR is best suited for this task, some outliers think customer services are best equipped to deal with individual inquiries.
Some of my favorite experts believe Social Media is so revolutionary, such a fundamental game changer to the future of business that it had to start with the CEO and work down from there, utilizing the power of the whole organization.
Brands can add value to the community through content.
And that is an important skill of marketing people.
Real conversations should be between real people.
And that’s where the customer services team shines.
People desire an authentic dialogue with the whole company, including CEO.
That’s where it’s beneficial to make the whole organization social.
All true. Where do we go from here?
How about starting with the customer?
There’s not one customer in the world who cares what department owns Social Media.
They have their own reasons to visit social properties and, from time to time, to interact with a brand: They might want convenience, reassurance, discounts, exclusivity, etc. Customers only care about ownership when the engagement they are looking for is dysfunctional: When they express criticism on Facebook and get no response from qualified individuals, just the unicorn response: “Look at me, we are beautiful.” When the YouTube video is just another self-indulgent promo. When the Twitter feed is a pure push marketing platform.
The owner of a social platform has to be the best qualified person/department to deliver the best experience to the audience.
Ownership of platforms should not be a departmental/divisional question, it should be a customer experience question. When you want to deliver a press-focused presence on a platform, it makes no sense for the marketing department to own it. A customer services platform shouldn’t be run by PR people.
From a strategic point of view this adds a layer of complexity, particularly when it comes to aligning departmental goals. But, let’s repeat this slowly: Goals shouldn’t be about the department, they should be about improving the customer experience.
The discussion of Social Media ownership will continue for the foreseeable future. And the answer remains the same: There’s only person who really owns the social platform, and that’s your individual customer.