Often Asked: Who Should Handle Social Media in My Company?

Social Media Outposts

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One of the questions I often get asked from larger companies is, “Who should be responsible for handing our social media accounts?”  From my time at Ruby Tuesday, I learned that what seems like a very easy to answer question, is actually complicated. Large companies (for the most part) break down into units, and something like social media doesn’t easily fit into a bucket.  Under communications, a large company could easily have several teams responsible for advertising, public relations, crisis communications, local marketing, global marketing and internal communications.  If these were states, social media is the highway crosses through each one at different points.

But let’s get back to the question, “Who should be responsible for handling our social media accounts?” –  there are really four criteria that you must pass:

  1. Understand the brand
  2. Understand the goals for social media
  3. Be trusted to communicate AS the brand
  4. Be excited and interested about doing it

 1) Understand the brand

They know the history of the company, why and where is was founded, who your target customer is, why you make your products in a certain manner, and they understand what is okay to talk about online and what isn’t.  More importantly they know how to translate the essence of the company into daily communication with customers.

 2) Understand the goals for social media

They must understand the goals of social media.  Depending on the organization, the goals could be to create an additional customer service channel, or a manner to do market research, or a spot to share blog posts from your internal experts.  But if they don’t have a clear understanding of these things, then you will not accomplish what you want.  They may not post LOL Cats, but most likely they’ll start to post things that are off strategy, but easy to reach.

 3) Be trusted to communicate AS the brand

A social media account is a direct line to your customers and add in the fact that emotions don’t convey over text very well and you could quickly have a sensitive situation on your hands if your’e not careful.  Facebook updates and tweets can be quickly be sent to thousands and seen by 50x within hours, so understanding the responsibility for that is an important undertaking.  The person pushing “go” must be trained and approved to speak as the brand, because they are doing it.

4) Be excited and interested about doing it

Social media is an exciting opportunity, it is a place for cutting edge opportunity – however unlike any  previous communications role, it requires a mountain of consistent updates.  As I tell students in my classes, if you update daily (which I’d recommend) it’s 365 updates.  Yes they may be short and small, but the impact is large – and more often then not, it can be grueling to both consistently create and locate the right content, while fending off content that wouldn’t be appropriate for your brand. e.g. pictures of puppies, or your most recent press release.

In all reality, these go in importance from 4 to 1.  Why?  Because it’s hard to teach 4, someone will have to be naturally inclined.  3, trust has to be earned which takes time.  2 and 1 can be taught.

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3 Comments
  • Karl Hughes
    Posted at 12:13h, 23 February Reply

    Really good list of requirements here. It’s always shocking to me when companies pull in some brand new hire who knows little about marketing or the company’s brand to manage social media. It’s great that SM is opening doors for younger professionals, but it’s much better to have someone who’s invested in the company handle these accounts.

    • Gavin Baker
      Posted at 11:00h, 27 February Reply

      Thanks Karl! It is great that social media provides great opportunities for younger marketing hires, but the is risk in it.

  • Mindy
    Posted at 16:08h, 15 July Reply

    This was an interesting read. I always assumed that social media fit right into a company’s marketing department, but as you mentioned, it’s so much more than that. It’s communication, brand awareness, customer relations, etc all wrapped up into one. Companies would do well to take their time choosing the right candidate.

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