I’ve been scratching my head for a while about the question of where social media should sit in an organization. I’ve learned that the way a person typically answers that depending on his or her background and point of view. A PR person will typically say, PR! (Especially if that person works at an agency.) An advertising person will usually say, ADVERTISING! You get where I’m going with this.
My auto-response answer is: marketing. As I give it more thought though, I don’t think it’s that straight forward. These days I’m thinking that it should live wherever business strategy lives and in the channels where a company delivers tactically against those strategies. Does that mean it lives everywhere? Maybe.
From my perspective, social media enables engagement. To me, it’s much more interesting to think of it as an enabling technology that serves a bigger business objective: a more effective and efficient way to serve customers.
Engagement translates to better communication and understanding of your business eco-system (customers, employees and partners), which results in better products and services, and ultimately happier customers, employees and partners. Social media happens to be a great channel for achieving that.
You have to ask where all of those things matter most within a company. I think most will come to realize that engagement has the potential to impact a company’s business at a fundamental level. I get excited about this because I believe that engagement, and social media as a technology that enables engagement, does this in pretty dramatic ways.
No, I’m not going to say that there’s a revolution at our door steps or anything silly like that. I do however believe that transparency, changes in control of communication mediums & messages and the need for authenticity, represents both a for change from business as usual, but more importantly, a HUGE opportunity for both consumers and businesses.
For me, right now, that means engagement as a business strategy is what’s more interesting, and social media as one of a mix of channels and technology for achieving those objectives is what makes sense.
So, where does it live? Marketing? Customer support? Product development? HR? PR? Partner relations? Yes, yes, and yes.
The real challenge (and opportunity) that I see is how a business integrates engagement into every aspect of its business operations where it makes sense.