Social Media – Who takes responsibility in the corporate environment

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I have been involved in LinkedIn Groups (if your not on LinkedIn get signed up) for a while now and make a point of contributing where I can when I feel I have something useful to add.  Just recently Reginald Bautista asked the question:

Who’s responsible for Social Media Activities? Marketing or PR?

This question has provoked quite a debate among the members of the Pro Marketers – For Marketing Professionals Group with various views and opinions.

Most are of the opinion that it is a duel responsibility between the respective departments, while personally I am of the opinion that a complete “mental overhaul” is required regarding social media and corporations, its practices and application, its inherent value, and the implications of social media in business, separating it completely from the traditional practices by departments of Marketing and PR (but that’s a whole over post for another day).

One person in particular has obviously thought long and hard about what Social Media can bring to the table and has quite rightly pointed out that by trying to focus on it as a Marketing or PR tool is actually a mistake and the bias that exists within companies as they struggle to understand the reach and implications of social media outside of these two areas.

I hope that Dean Guadagni, Business Director for Inner Architect, will not mind me quoting him directly. I feel he has an essential understanding of what social media is, can be and will become when its full application is properly considered;

Social Media functionality is so MUCH more than marketing or public relations. Yet, most corporations limit their belief of the functionality of social media to marketing or public relations.

Savvy companies understand the multiple opportunities within social media. They create leaders for each department, with strategic goals, and the ability to collaborate with their counterparts in each department.

Whether they use a wiki or an internal, password protected, blog the idea is to “crowdsource” your own human capital. Prior to launching that type of effort, guidelines are created so that everyone is on the same page.

Corporations are beginning to understand the multiple business applications of social media:

1. Project Management
2. Crowdsourcing (http://ideastorm.com) Dell
3. Breaking News
4. Customer Service
5. Internal Communications
6. Internal Monitoring
7. Product Development
8. Recruiting
9. Reputation Management
10.Policy Notification ( Britain’s Social Media Move http://innerarchitect.com/2009/05/22/britain-appoints-social-media-czar-turning-point-in-social-media-adoption/ )

An excellent, concise list of where Social Media could be utilized in a variety of different functions within the corporate environment  when the social media bigger picture is analysed properly. Well said Mr. Guadagni.

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  • http://www.deskaway.com DeskAway

    Social media can really be used for many purposes. We see this with our twitter, facebook accounts. from marketing, PR, it easily morphs to customer care!

  • http://www.deskaway.com Priyanka D

    Social media can really be used for many purposes. We see this with our twitter, facebook accounts. from marketing, PR, it easily morphs to customer care!

    • http://www.justinparks.com Justin Parks

      Absolutely, its deciding what you want from it and how to be effective is the key.

  • http://www.triangledirectmedia.com Scott G

    That is a great way to view the impact and potential behind social media. Just as with any emerging marketing/adverting vehicle, education is of utmost important to business owners. Dean’s list looks spot on but would need to be calibrated for small businesses who do not have many “leaders” over various departments — often times they’re wearing multiple hats.

    This then begs to question how effective social media marketing can be in actively engaging customer conversations in major social networks and company/industry sponsored channels on behalf of a brand — early signals appear positive but the dust still needs to settle. As most can attest, it’s a full-time job. Besides an active blogging strategy, it looks like many businesses are still just dipping their toes into social media by creating profiles but not actively maintaining or proactively developing their voice — guess they’re waiting to see if this is all just a fad &/or if businesses can truly monetize their efforts. Considering the economy & budget cuts, investing into a new, unproven strategy goes against conventional wisdom for many businesses.

    This is why education and a well planned, executed & managed strategy is important to get & keep businesses on the right social media track.

    • http://www.justinparks.com Justin Parks

      Some excellent points Scott, especially when orientated towards SMEs. Time constraints and time management are certainly the most serious issues to address for the SME but, to some extent this can be bypassed with the right tools and by selecting the correct channels, cutting down on multiple social media entrance points.

      By this I dont mean automation but by being educated on what uses each element of social media has to offer and utilising them in the correct manner, for example having the blog talk to twitter, twitter to facebook, and all of these to FriendFeed to LinkedIn.

      Like you say though, SMEs are resisting on the commitment level because of the unproven nature of Social media, even though the list of points in this article can be used to select what would be the most beneficial avenue, whether its one point or all of them, for an SME and what is most beneficial to it and its clients to make overall improvements to their service or product.

      Still, its exciting times and only time will tell.

  • http://www.triangledirectmedia.com Scott G

    That is a great way to view the impact and potential behind social media. Just as with any emerging marketing/adverting vehicle, education is of utmost important to business owners. Dean’s list looks spot on but would need to be calibrated for small businesses who do not have many “leaders” over various departments — often times they’re wearing multiple hats.

    This then begs to question how effective social media marketing can be in actively engaging customer conversations in major social networks and company/industry sponsored channels on behalf of a brand — early signals appear positive but the dust still needs to settle. As most can attest, it’s a full-time job. Besides an active blogging strategy, it looks like many businesses are still just dipping their toes into social media by creating profiles but not actively maintaining or proactively developing their voice — guess they’re waiting to see if this is all just a fad &/or if businesses can truly monetize their efforts. Considering the economy & budget cuts, investing into a new, unproven strategy goes against conventional wisdom for many businesses.

    This is why education and a well planned, executed & managed strategy is important to get & keep businesses on the right social media track.

    • http://www.justinparks.com Justin Parks

      Some excellent points Scott, especially when orientated towards SMEs. Time constraints and time management are certainly the most serious issues to address for the SME but, to some extent this can be bypassed with the right tools and by selecting the correct channels, cutting down on multiple social media entrance points.

      By this I dont mean automation but by being educated on what uses each element of social media has to offer and utilising them in the correct manner, for example having the blog talk to twitter, twitter to facebook, and all of these to FriendFeed to LinkedIn.

      Like you say though, SMEs are resisting on the commitment level because of the unproven nature of Social media, even though the list of points in this article can be used to select what would be the most beneficial avenue, whether its one point or all of them, for an SME and what is most beneficial to it and its clients to make overall improvements to their service or product.

      Still, its exciting times and only time will tell.

  • http://www.communicatemagazine.co.uk Andrew Thomas

    Whilst many companies are “dipping their toes” a growing number are using social media to talk to audiences that are not their customers. We’re organising a conference on social media in a corporate context and there are fantastic examples of departments who are using social media to talk to all their stakeholders. Internal communications is an area that is often discussed, but increasingly other social media is becoming a tool in the corporate communications armoury for talking to investors, the business media, regulators, the communities in which companies operate and so on.

  • http://www.communicatemagazine.co.uk Andrew Thomas

    Whilst many companies are “dipping their toes” a growing number are using social media to talk to audiences that are not their customers. We’re organising a conference on social media in a corporate context and there are fantastic examples of departments who are using social media to talk to all their stakeholders. Internal communications is an area that is often discussed, but increasingly other social media is becoming a tool in the corporate communications armoury for talking to investors, the business media, regulators, the communities in which companies operate and so on.

  • http://www.justinparks.com Justin Parks

    Absolutely, its deciding what you want from it and how to be effective is the key.