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Social media is about using web and mobile tools to have an interactive dialogue with people, is is simultaneously a tool for listening and talking, for  understanding customer needs and promoting your message, for spreading good (and bad) news…so who should look after it internally.

For most businesses it is a marketing tool. Clearly the marketing function within the business should be setting the strategy and implementing the plan. And this is fine p to a point. However, marketers (and I am one of these) tend to see the world of social media through the same lens as other marketing channels, using expressions like audience, demographics, impacts and recall… What marketers want is a platform to broadcast their brand message to a large audience in a cost effective (or better still free) manner. An herein lies the problem. Social media is NOT an advertising channel. Trying to sell through social media is possibly a recipe for disaster.

So, if it isn’t marketing, should it be customer service. Certainly Dell (to pick a company at random) use social media very efficiently as a tool to understand when their customers are unhappy or have a problem and to engage these potential detractors by solving the problems and promoting the great service that you can expect from the company. It is an efficient, engaging and low cost way of keeping your customers satisfied. But often customers require a more personal service than a Twitter feed or a Facebook page can deliver.

OK, how about PR then? Certainly PR is a great place to get some huge benefits from using social media, but PR people (like marketers) tend to view the benefits of social media as if it were in a silo. Whilst social media can encourage the story to spread and be picked-up by many sources. PR people tend to be about column inches rather than readers – “your story has appeared on 27 different websites”…so what. It still doesn’t mean that anyone has actually read it!

So, if it’s not PR or marketing or even customer service who should be in charge of social media?

Well, in an ideal world…nobody.

As a business tool social media spans so many areas within a business – all of the above, plus community, research, recruitment, personal development, customer acquisition, technical support…in fact pretty much every single area in which a business needs to touch people either customers, prospects, staff, stakeholders, advocates and detractors.

To try and compartmentalise social media is like saying which department should have a telephone…the answer is every single one.

So why not give me a call to discuss how social media can help streamline your business.