Who do you think “owns social”?

Next week, I’m moderating a panel discussion at The Social Customer conference in London on this very topic. Some smart people will be on that panel:

Katy Howell (Managing Director, Immediate Future); Nick Sharples (Corporate Communications Consultant), Martin Hill-Wilson (Brainfood Consulting), Aaron Stewart (Product Marketing Manager, KANA Software)

From the event description:

In most organisations, Marketing has led the way in social media adoption and usage. Some would say, though, that “social” is more attuned to the goals of Customer Services – in which a focus on generating trust and delivering value is not polluted by a requirement to generate leads. Hear some of the UK’s leading Marketing and Customer Services practitioners debate who should own social.

I hear all sorts of responses when the question “Who owns social?” is asked. Here’s a sampling:

There are plenty of views out there but these six serve to illustrate the point – everyone has a different opinion, hardly a good place to be for everyone else to understand it. Is everyone defining ‘owns’ and ‘social’ the same way, I wonder? I find it interesting, too, that I see few answers that say ‘the customer.’ But does the customer really own social? Or PR, marketing? Or maybe it indeed is no one.

What do you think? If you have an opinion, please share it – I’ll do that, too, in the panel discussion in London next week: Thursday March 29, from 10.20am to 11:10am.

If you’re not in London on the 29th, you can still be part of the conversation via the hashtag #SCRM12.

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The Social Customer – London
London’s Leading Social CRM, Customer Engagement & Marketing Conference

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Adam Tinworth

    I’ve always taken the view that, eventually, social will be owned by the same person who owns the telephone: everybody. Different parts of the company will use it in different ways, and for different reasons. But no one department should own it.

    “The department of talking to people” – insane idea, but only because all parts of a business should be talking in some way…

  2. Shel Holtz

    Always an interesting question, but based on the results of Altimeter's social media preparedness study, the best practice is for a social media "center of excellence" to have that responsibility. The more I study the issue, the more I'm inclined to agree.

  3. David B. Thomas

    I'm a fan of the center of excellence approach, with social media practitioners in each department, and regular communication among all the practitioners (both in person and through some kind of collaboration technology). Eventually we won't be talking about it anymore, any more than we talk about "who owns the Web," but we need to think about it now.

  4. David Terrar

    Hi Neville,
    I think the answer lies somewhere between the two questions:
    – Who owns the phone system?
    – Who owns the brand?
    Since this thing is relatively new it makes sense there is a centre of competence that sits in marketing or corporate communications, but every part of the organisation needs to touch it and use it and know the policy & guidelines for external communications with customers, partners and the outside world.

    And you need to cover internal collaboration just as much as external communications.

  5. Neville Hobson

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. I’ve discussed this topic in FIR 644 (publishing on March 26) and will add your views to the panel discussion at the conference in London on March 29.

  6. One Man and His Blog

    The danger of understanding social media through the lens of old media…

    People have a reflexive habit of trying to understand new tools in terms of what they already know – and thus miss their potential….

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