Which department should oversee social media activities?
By Terah Brossart Guest Columnist
More companies are investing budget and resources into social media, making it a hot spot in the job market right now. At the same time, many employers are trying to determine which department should manage their company’s social media presence—public relations, marketing, both, or neither? According to a new survey by The Creative Group, it’s a tough question. When advertising and marketing executives were asked which department is best suited to oversee an organization’s social media efforts, the response was divided: 39 percent of respondents said public relations/communications and 35 percent said marketing. Only 15 percent said customer service.
Corporate social media encompasses many things—posting updates and engaging with followers, responding to customer questions and complaints, and monitoring and measuring the success of campaigns. Each of these tasks requires different skill sets and is likely best handled by different departments within an organization.
For example, a customer support team may be best equipped to respond to complaints on social media since they have experience addressing similar queries by phone or e-mail. Marketing may handle activities like paid advertising, contests and other social media promotions since they have experience reaching a company’s target audience. PR may be best suited for disseminating information on social media channels, much as they would with press releases, bylined articles, and media or blogger outreach to communicate a company’s key messages. For this reason, no one person or department should “own” social media; it’s more strategic to create cross-departmental work groups that can tackle social media piece by piece.
Here are a few tips to help companies delegate social media activities:
Make it a group effort.
There are many aspects to corporate social media—including posting updates and engaging with followers, responding to customer queries and complaints, and analyzing activity—and it’s a lot for one person, much less one department, to handle. Create cross-departmental work groups to manage social media activities, leveraging the strengths of different teams. Also be sure to establish clear success metrics and accountability for reaching them.
Scout for internal talent.
Identify current employees who have expressed an active interest in social media and can help drive the effort—whether from a strategy, execution or maintenance standpoint.
Communicate best practices to all employees.
Even if you plan to rely solely on a select group of people to represent your brand via social media, all staff members should be provided with company guidelines regarding posting content, managing feedback and handling negative commentary. Employees equipped with these best practices may become your company’s strongest brand ambassadors, even if they’re tweeting and posting from a personal versus corporate account.
Bring in reinforcements.
Social media moves at lightning speed and your current staff may not have the time or expertise to keep up with the constant activity. Bringing in highly skilled freelancers who have experience developing, launching and managing social media campaigns can help alleviate the workload and provide outside expertise your team may lack.
There are many aspects of social media and it’s a lot for one person, much less one department, to handle. Creating cross-departmental work groups maximizes the strengths of all teams involved. Bringing in freelancers with social media skills can also be an effective way for companies to support social media activities and gain access to skills they lack internally. Lastly, companies may want to consider working with a specialized staffing firm to identify top social media talent quickly.
Terah Brossart is a division director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing firm placing interactive, design, advertising and marketing professionals on a project and full-time basis. The company has offices in major markets across the United States and in Canada, and offers online job search services at www.creativegroup.com. Contact the Seattle branch at 206-749-9046.