Who Owns Social Media Within an Organization?


First it was “Do we want to do social media?”

Then it was, “Ok, we should probably get involved with social media, but how?”

Soon after, the question was, “Who owns social media?” This question still remains. A lot of debate has occurred over the last couple years to determine whether social media is a marketing function or a public relations responsibility. The truth is, it’s both. And, it’s customer service. And it’s sales. And HR, and the executive team.


The question shouldn’t be one of who owns social media, but should rather be “how can we integrate social media into our business practices? How can we organize ourselves to truly be a social business?”

Success with social media requires you to know the right people – these “right” people can be members of the press, business development executives, venture capitalists, and most importantly, your customers. It’s impossible, and frankly, irresponsible, for the public relations or marketing department to be solely responsible for reaching all the right constituencies through online channels like Twitter or Quora.

This is by no means a suggestion that a company should require every employee to represent your company online – in fact, that is an awful idea. What you should do, however, is enable your passionate, proud employees – no matter which department they are in – who you feel would represent the company culture you’ve worked so hard to establish.

Jeremiah Owyang has long spoken about the many ways a company can structure social media involvement internally. There is no “one size fits all” approach to organize the use of social media throughout a business, but I highly recommend taking a peek at this research to determine what will work for your business.

Additionally, keep in mind these best practices to bringing your company to a level of true social business:

  • No approach will work if you haven’t established a clear company culture. Your company’s values need to be embraced and evangelized by any employee who represents the company externally. It’s important that your company culture dictates every move you make in social media. This will help to ensure a cohesive brand presence online, no matter who is participating.
  • One person or team oversees the company’s social media efforts by working regularly with department heads to ensure everyone’s outreach represents the company’s work appropriately. “The hub should be an enabler –not social police,” according to Jeremiah’s research. This person reviews departments to ensure everyone is on the same page, and shares notes about what is working and what isn’t throughout the company.

Social business is not about restructuring the company (I’ve seen companies try to bring social media into the fold of all of their business practices, only to wind up with each member of the marketing team being outsourced to each department as a social representative). It can get messy if careful thought is not put into it, but at the same time, this should feel like a natural shift of your company’s culture.

Have you put plans in place to make all departments or functions within your company social? What are your recommendations for making social media part of your business as a whole?

For more ideas on collaboration, growth and adaptation around social media and marketing, contact Sandra Proulx Rand or Don F Perkins. Let’s keep the discussion going!

See this related post: Who Owns Social Media For Your Company?

This is a guest blog by my friend Sandra Proulx Rand – Marketer, Social Media Sponge, all around interesting digital native.

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