Who Owns Social Media? Ultimate Answer: The Opposites

I’ve seen it first-hand. Despite companies aspirations to openess and full cooperation, there exists a rivalry over “control” of social media with the main combatants Communications/Public Relations (“PR“) and Marketing/Advertising (“Mktg”), leading to internal battles, mistrust and inefficient social media use by both.

And each discipline has valid reasons for wanting this. For PR, social media is a communications, corporate reputation and thought leadership opportunity which will lead to increased, unpaid brand mentions — “earned media”. Mktg views it as an additional opportunity to advance its message to potential and current customers to advance its sales goals.

PR Only or Marketing Only Doesn’t Work

Both have valid points. And the truth is, that utilizing social media by one area without the other is a losing proposition. Organizations that relegate social media to marketing only are losing the vital advantage that social listening; conversational engagement; brand enhancement and thought leadership brings when marshalled by PR. Also, improper use/overuse of social media for purely marketing/advertising purposes can have the opposite effect of turning off your audience to your social media efforts entirely. Similarly, social media use by PR only is a lost opportunity to connect with the audience to convey the value proposition of its goods and services.

And so, in most companies that have realized the advantages of leveraging social media there exists either dual strategies or, worse, no strategy at all as both areas do their own thing. This leads to fierce competition for resources and recognition, departmental distrust, and breakdown in communication (ironic, given social media’s utility for increasing communication).

So Where Should Social Media “Live”?

Of course, in a discipline as young as social media (very few of us have been paid social media practitioners for over 10 years) PR and Mktg are not the only areas where leadership social media mat reside. For my 10 years working at AOL it was in the Product division; during my tenure at BusinessWeek it was part of the Digital division; and when I worked at Bloomberg L.P it lived in Communications, but then later consolidated (to my chagrin) into Marketing.

While not the ultimate answer (see below), if forced to make a choice mine would be PR. The upside potential for understanding audience sentiment; deepening end-user engagement; developing brand supporters, loyalists and defenders; and raising awareness of the organization’s goods, services and leaders is best handled by communications pros.

The one caveat: the need for a social media professional, one who has a visible social media footprint, a  and documented success as a paid professional  on staff to lead the organization in developing an overall social media strategy; implement best practices; develop internal social media policy; evangelizing social media internally including education and training and working with other departments such as HR and, yes, Marketing to employ social media the right way is an absolute requirement.

The Ultimate Answer

That is not the final answer to the “who owns social media” question — it’s the way most companies should proceed at the early stages of this discipline. The ultimate answer is: the opposites: “No one” and “Everyone“.

A fully integrated, successful social media strategy’s goal should be where both no department feels that they own social media; but every department is responsible for utilizing it as part of a comprehensive, coordinated effort.

Sad, But True (and Funny)

Another in a long line of reasons why companies need to hire an on staff social media professional.

In Defense of Women, or “Another Day, Another 77 Cents”

Women don’t need me (or any other man) to defend them, as they are quite capable of doing so themselves. But they do deserve my support and that of all men in their long and ongoing effort to achieve equality when it comes to treatment in the workplace, today earning about 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for similar work.

Married to a top corporate executive with two daughters working in the education and government fields, I have witnessed first-hand the challenges each face in pursing their careers. Two events last week got me thinking once again about this issue. The first, was the celebration of Equal Pay Day (Apr. 12) which strives to increase awareness of the discrepancy between male and female wages. The second was attending the “Shine On: Celebrating Women Making a Difference” awards at Radio city Music Hall (Apr. 11).

Despite the emergence of women as keen, capable business leaders the latest info shows they still only make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for a similar job. To quote the Department of Labor,

While women hold nearly half of today’s jobs, and their earnings account for a significant portion of the household income that sustains the financial well-being of their families, they are still experiencing a gap in pay compared to men’s wages for similar work.” (Dept. of Labor, Equal Pay Day Toolkit)

Yes, progress has been made over the years, and certainly,  there has been a fundamental change in the role of women in the workplace. While Stay at Home Moms (SAHM) remain a vital part of society wage equity has certainly lagged behind the realities of today’s workforce where men are not necessarily the family’s main wage-earner.

Portrait Monument image via WikipediaCongress as well has hampered equal pay progress by failing to pass HR:1519 The Paycheck Fairness Act in both 2009 and 2010 (although reintroduced last week with 168 congressional representative sponsors). Ironically, Congress itself is an equal-pay workplace, mandated to pay senators and representatives specific salaries regardless of gender. Of course, Congress also kept the Portrait Monument (left), dedicated to the pioneers of women’s suffrage Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, in the basement of the Capitol for 76 years before restoring it in the Rotunda in 1997, and even then said it’d only be there for one year (though obviously extended).  Hmm…

On a brighter note, Good Housekeeping — a “main stream media” magazine publisher that has remained relevant for over 125 years — celebrated women making history with its Shine On awards. This year’s winners were:

  • Christy Turlington Burns – For her work as an advocate via her Every Mother Counts
  • The sOccket Girls – Four Harvard grad students for combining  soccer with enlightenment
  • Elizabeth Blackburn – Nobel prize-winning scientist whose work may unlock a cure for cancer
  • Michelle Rhee – Controversial forward-thinking educator for her Students First organization
  • Lisa Switkin – Urban planner of green space including the High Line park in NYC
  • Indra Nooyi – Chairperson and CEO of Pepsico, Inc. also active in Water.org

Amazing people all, I was impressed with their intelligence, eloquence and passion to improve society.

Oh, and they just happen to be women.

Quick Tweet: The State of Community Management in 2011

Great report by Edelman Digital and The Community Roundtable on the state of community management in 2011

http://ow.ly/4skjI

Epsilon: NOT Such a Negligible Effect

From Ancient Greek ἒψιλόν (epsilon, “the letter Ε”), defined in the context of computing as “A negligible effect.”

But also, Epsilon is an online marketing unit of Alliance Data Systems Corp., servicing over 2,500 clients via the distribution of permission-based emails.  On Wednesday (March 30), Epsilon announced in a short statement to its clients (not to the public) with no details other than ” a subset of its database was accessed externally” resulting in email addresses and names being stolen. And far from having a negligible effect, this may represent the largest security breach in the history of the Web.

What does this mean to you? At a minimum it will lead to targeted unsolicited emails being sent to you in greater frequency and quantity.

I started to get wind of the problem when I received two emails from retailers I have dealt with online, but haven’t interacted with in many months, Brookstone and Disney Destinations. Then I saw other people mention on Twitter receiving similar notices from TiVo, Kroger and other brands. There had to be a common denominator and it was Epsilon.

How widespread is the breach? Hard to tell at this point, but according to Neil Schwartzman, chief security specialist for CASL Consulting, “It is the biggest breach we have ever seen; and to say no financial information has been stolen is, well, understating the massive breach and concern.”

Here’s only some of the 50 brands whose customers are affected (note the many financial institutions):

  • 1-800-FLOWERS
  • Abe Books
  • Ameriprise Financial
  • Barclays Bank
  • Best Buy
  • Brookstone
  • Capital One
  • Citi
  • Disney Destinations
  • Eddie Bauer
  • Hilton
  • Home Shopping Network (HSN)
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Kroger
  • Lacoste
  • LL Bean
  • Marriott Rewards
  • McKinsey & Company
  • New York & Company
  • Robert Half
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards
  • Target
  • The College Board
  • TiVo
  • US Bank
  • Visa Card
  • Walgreens

Got spam? Blame Epsilon (yes, I know they aren’t the only causal factor, but they’ve now further sullied the ecommerce waters). It’s important to note that the companies listed above and others caught in the maelstrom are not to blame. They contracted with a well-known service provider with a stellar client list. It is reasonable for them to have felt confident that a company whose stock in trade is in email communications to have safeguards in place to protect their data.

As for reparations, blogger and former co-worker during my AOL years Joe Manna says, don’t expect anyone to pay for your inconvenience based upon past incidences similar to this one:

“This is the work of offshore hackers where laws are weak, jurisdiction is limited and tracking people down is near impossible. Don’t expect anyone to get arrested, because the hackers are global.”

One more thing —  as of this morning (April 4) the Epsilon web site shows no mention of the breach even as the story is exploding online naming them as the cause, letting their clients take the blowback (and the blame?). The story went public on Friday and so the social web has had three days to spread the story without company response. It appears Epsilon needs a social media professional on staff to help modernize its marketing and public relations.

Again, old thinking or as we in social media say a PR #FAIL.


Follow the Epsilon not-so-negligible fallout: Targeted Google News Search

1% of Twitter Users Are Power Users – This Is News?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

So, 200K of Twitter’s 200MM users responsible for 50% of all tweets.

What part of the 90:9:1 rule comes as a surprise to them?

http://ow.ly/4sjOa

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