Social Media Ownership - Centralized or Distributed?

As more and more companies, brands, and organizations begin to view social media as a legitimate channel to engage with their customers and their market, more and more people are beginning to ask the question, "Who is ultimately in charge of our social media efforts?" It's a good, hard question.

Econsultancy ran a survey and found some data that is interesting, but perhaps not detailed enough.

The recent Mashable article and the comments on the article give some indication that no one really knows the answer. 

Which, when you think about it, is kind of an answer in itself. No one seems to have formed a strong enough argument for any one department to own the overall social media effort.

Some say the Marketing or PR group, because they know how to craft a message that is appropriate to the audience. But that breaks down somewhat when you consider how social media tends to act like water, expanding into every possible open space. The message may be right for a known audience, but when the message starts making its way to the second circle of people, is it still truly the best message?

Some say the Strategy group should own social media because that team is best positioned to advise users on "how" to use social media effectively. Well...I don't know. I think there is an art to communicating in social media that may not be best served by strategists.

Some say the Customer Service group should own social media, because they are engaging one on one with real people in real conversations. True enough, and social media is an excellent vehicle for Support teams, but limiting social media to support scenarios is like saying TV should only be used for music videos (BTW, does MTV ever show videos anymore?).

Some say IT should own social media because it is really just another system. If you ask me, that discounts the human factor that is inherent in social media too much.

Finally, a lot of people say that everyone in the company ought to be involved in social media outreach. And I agree, for several reasons.

  1. Social media is an excellent way to communicate with people, and as we all know, every conversation has a different nature depending on the who and what of the conversation. So, everyone in the organization needs to be able to use social media channels to conduct their business.
  2. Social media efforts are more effective when you have both a variety of voices involved and they are all authentic voices.
  3. Social media is a better way to listen, and every department in every company can benefit from listening to how customers and prospects talk about the company.

If you agree with this, then the next question to ask is how I can get everyone involved in the company social media efforts. There are definitely control measures you will want to put in place.

  • You'll need a policy to guide everyone in your company on how to behave appropriately
  • You'll need a policy to state how your company will treat content from those outside of the company that is not appropriate
  • You'll want to understand the cadence that works well in your social media channels and have a calendar view so you can stop over sharing before it happens

The tools you choose will also determine how distributed you can be. Ideally, the tools you choose are flexible enough to work well in a centralized and distributed model. The tools also should accommodate multiple authors, channels and content types. Finally, the tools should guide each user to generating great content, whether that means knowing the right keywords to include, the right tone to take, and the right format for the channel the content is going out on.

As you might have guessed, Spredfast is a tool that fits that bill. I'm just saying.

Social Media Initiative managed by Spredfast
Spredfast's picture


The world’s best social software platform. We deliver smart social software that makes every consumer touch point better.