There's a common debate in social media marketing circles around who "owns" social media within an organization and where responsibility for management of a brand's social media channels should lie.
Should it be with the marketing department? Is it a sales task? Should customer service take the reigns?
Because of the varied nature and opportunity of social, there's not really a definitive answer. Or is there?
To get some additional perspective, we recently conducted a survey, putting this question to readers of both Social Media Today and our sister site Marketing Dive, and worked with media intelligence group Meltwater to analyze the results. And while the answers gleaned don't necessarily offer much more clarity, they do underline the wide variation in how social is being adopted, and adapted, within different organizations.
Our first key finding is that social media ownership is not standardized across organizations - in fact, far from it.
In response to the question: "Which department and/or team within your organization owns the social media process?" most answers leaned towards the marketing department, but a surprising number were spread across the organization:
Further down the the list were Sales (3%), Agency or outsourced team (3%) and Customer relations (2%).
The results, as noted, underline the varying approaches to social media marketing - while marketing appears to be the most logical department for social, that's not universally the case.
In another element of the survey, we asked: "Who do you think should own social media within your organization?"
And while Marketing still comes out on as the most logical area, the responses highlight a significant disparity between which departments currently own social and opinion on where responsibility should lie:
You'll notice no one said an agency or outsourced team should own the process - the data suggests that most organizations would prefer to have an in-house social media team dedicated to the ownership of social channels, as opposed to moving responsibility to a third party, and that many would even prefer a dedicated team, over the marketing department.
So is it time, talent, or budget that is preventing this shift? In the full report, we examine just how much time and money is currently spent on the social media management process.
Whether the answer to the ongoing question can be answered with a dedicated team, or collaboration among departments, the difference lies in the company's culture.
At Southwest Airlines, for example, social media is "owned" by marketing & communications and customer service to ensure they're able to deliver on their mission of "the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit."
Rob Hahn, Assistant Manager of Social Care at Southwest, talked with our SMT influencer Dan Gingiss on the Focus on Customer Service podcast about initial social ownership growing larger than one team could handle. Marketing & communications now partners with the Social Care team, bringing the total number to thirty nine individuals handling social inquiries. Quite a significant effort between marketing & communications and the social care team to serve the customer.
It's clear there is alot of uncertainty across the business world when it comes to social media ownership, and we'll continue to see changes among brands and organizations in the years to come.
Who do you think should own social media? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
About the survey: Social Media Today and our sister site Marketing Dive partnered with media intelligence software firm Meltwater to gain insight into how marketing and communication teams have grown to meet the demands of consumers and the opportunities forged by technology. With 543 Social Media Today and Marketing Dive readers participating, the 2016 Marketing Insights Survey [PDF] sheds light on how much social media management differs across organizations when it comes to roles, time, budget, and methodology. Download the full report here.