I was fortunate enough to leave a very toxic situation in December. Forever now, Independence Day for me will be December 17th --> the day I walked away from an abusive marriage. It's safe to say that July 4th will also have it's own significant meaning to me this year. Independence is such a beautiful, lovely thing, isn't it? It's amazing to wake up everyday and know that you own your life, your decisions and your career. It's also quite likely that most of us wake up everyday not necessarily feeling that we do own those things, and it becomes an inward fight to claim independence of our own lives. While I am confident in owning my life and decisions, I sometimes question where the ownership of social media stands within my career.
So, let me ask the question that many brands are asking themselves right now --> WHO OWNS SOCIAL? I've recently found myself in a common situation, where everyone feels like they have a hand in the bucket of social media. EVERY person feels that they own what message is being sent out, and even, to a degree, every message that comes in. While I might not have a definitive answer on who owns it, I can confidently say EVERYONE does NOT own it for a brand. If you run your brand by letting everyone have their hand in the social media cookie jar, then you are risking having a bipolar social media strategy that not only lacks cohesiveness, but also lacks expertise.
It is critical that a brand has at least one social media expert that it TRUSTS to run the show. While obviously marketing and ecommerce and any other critical department within your brand needs to have stake in social, there ultimately needs to be a social media expert making the end-all calls on what works on social and what doesn't. If you cannot let your social media expert make decisions as to what content works well on which network, then it's either time for you to find a new expert that you do trust, or stop doing social altogether.
The social media expertise within in a company needs to be INDEPENDENT of all of the other departments involved in social messaging. Why? Because there are a thousand things a social media expert sees day in and day out on social media that other associates might not understand. While it's important to have social involved in all departments within a business, it's also important to give your social media expert the independence to make the social media decisions you hired them to make. Other teams can decide the content, but social media experts should be deciding how and which networks it is being fed through. On top of that, micromanaging inhibits creativity and original content, which is vital for an effective social media campaign.
So, while I've made a clear opinionated case for the independence of social media, I still haven't answered who owns it. I passionately believe that social media ultimately belongs to the fans. It belongs to the consumers that are making the effort to interact with your brand, and are willing to create solid relationships within your social community.
What does July 4th look like for social media? It means giving trust and independence to your social team to make the right decisions for social media for your brand. After all, you hired them for a reason, didn't you?
- Marji J. Sherman