Look around and you’ll see a lot of online conversations asking, “Who owns social media?” One of my favorite daily news sources, Advertising Age, has hit this topic twice in the past few months. First, a solid piece by Pete Blackshaw last month where he talks about social media “softening” the silos that exist within marketing and across other groups. Also, another article by Chris Perry (almost 1 year ago) positioned the need for “talent, experience and relevant ideas.”
I wanted to weigh in on the debate with a slightly different angle. I do believe that everyone owns social media! I really do! However, we need to be practical about what this means to an organization ...
Everyone in all parts of the organization should be listening and engaging in conversations that can help them meet business goals. In many organizations, everyone is. Or at least, they’re starting to.
The "everyone" answer starts to explain why social media is so difficult, though, because it leads to bigger questions that are more important. Here are a few that I’ve been pondering:
- Who owns the social media budget?
- Who owns the social media data?
- Who owns the social media relationships?
Let’s break each of these down further. The budget
Most applications in the market for social media monitoring and analytics are targeted to specific departmental needs: Brand marketing, Public Relations, Market Research or Customer Care, for example. However, an enterprise social media measurement application is designed to truly provide analysis for all departments that touch the consumer -- and more. When that’s the case, who typically funds the effort? Who manages the project? And what about your digital agencies, PR measurement firms and market research agencies? Where do they fit in?
Typically, when SAS starts a project, the first step is contacting the Information Technology (IT) department to find out how to get the data. With social media analytics offerings, that step is compressed since most of the requisite data is publicly available and the systems for collecting it are part of the offering. Given that true enterprise social media analysis involves other data sources like customer feedback data, however, organizations still must address data privacy and security issues and, as such, may have to include the CIO and their organization.
On the surface, things stay the same in the social media sphere: Customer Care maintains the relationships with the customers, Public or Media Relations maintain relationships with journalists, Brand marketers communicate to consumers, etc. But the lines are beginning to blur in these and other areas. What about bloggers, reviewers, consultants, and other domain experts? For organizations that have separate departments for partners, press and other influencer relationships, increased corporation will be needed.
Organizations that are serious about social media are already putting together counsels, boards and task forces with representation from multiple departments. The early adopters we’re seeing so far in this space are bringing IT together with Brand/Media Teams, Public Relations, Digital Marketing and Market Research – all to one table. And let’s not forget how critical it is to involve agencies as well! This is exciting for SAS, because we are being asked to play the role of facilitator. Since we know how to handle both unstructured and structured data, and how to apply it to complex marketing problems, we are able to present the benefits of implementing a true marketing analytics framework across all silos in your organization, and – so far – it looks like the benefits of this message are being heard when it comes to social media.
It’s not going to be easy. There are still unanswered questions for most organizations, and everyone is concerned about the issue of scale. In many organizations, there are still just a small group of people in your organization that kind of “get it.” You have yet to institutionalize social media. But if you plan to, and you’re committed to overcoming all of the change management hurdles involved, you will need to go the enterprise route. Plan to work cross-departmentally and research solutions that can bring benefit to the business as a whole – not just one silo within the business.
Given that Chris Perry is a PR agency leader, he is very focused on the talent and idea side of social media. I actually believe that we are moving beyond that now in 2010. What we really need now is a process to channel the talent and ideas. Why? So that impact on the business can be measured in a repeatable, scalable, continuous fashion. That is the promise of enterprise social media!
PLEASE weigh in with your thoughts. How are you addressing the budget, data and relationship overlaps in your organizations? What processes are working for you to move social media talent and ideas deeper into the company? And how do you hope to measure your efforts?