Who’s Responsibility Is Social Media?

The Finger

15 years ago, when web sites began to appear on the horizon of corporate agendas, there was a great deal of confusion as to who should be reponsible for them. At the time, graphic designers weren’t technically savvy enough and IT specialists didn’t understand design and communications.

It’s around this time that people like me were entering the communications field. We came into web design when it needed a hybrid of design and programming. Of course, a decade later, there are entire departments and companies built around web design manned by highly specialized experts.

Social media is at the same place web design was in the early 90s. There are experts from PR, marketing, and web design all adding social media to their list of responsibilities. Few companies are dedicating positions or departments to social media. Many agencies are adding social media services to their offering, generally giving the responsibility to staff that has shown interest in SoMe. In these companies and agency, even in the industry in general, there is much discussion of who should be responsible for social media: PR, marketing, web design, etc. As a matter of fact, there are articles popping up all over the place discussing what makes a social media expert or poking fun at the idea of a social media expert at all.

In the coming years SoMe will no doubt me staffed by teams of specialists in analytics, character Twitterers, Facebook community managers, and more. It may be some time before social media becomes a must-have of a company’s marketing and communications plans. Until then social media will no doubt be helmed by the same type of jack-of-all-trades types that were there for the explosion of the Web.

What I’m getting at is: Should an existing profession be the one to take the reigns of social media for their employer or client? Or, should a new profession emerge, just like the webmasters of the 90s, to focus on pulling all the SoMe bits together? At least until they can afford to staff their department with specialists!

The SoMe Pro:


So what do we call these hybrids? “Social media expert” already has a bad wrap. Online Communications Consultant? Digital Community Ambassador? Anyone? Bueller?

Image by Rafa Llano.


on “Who’s Responsibility Is Social Media?
4 Comments on “Who’s Responsibility Is Social Media?
  1. Hi Michael!

    First off great post. You really captured the next challenge facing the social media community–who should be handling it. We have established its worthy of our time, we have begun to build out applications, tools, and resources to teach newcomers about them, and now we are seeing companies, consultants, etc. begin to tackle social media. The question is– who should really have their hand in the pot? What should we call them? What skills should they have fine tuned prior to social media campaign management?

    I think you will see social media parallel the moves of the marketers over any other sector of the industry, simply because they are used to looking ahead, communicating while thinking outside the box, and lacing together multiple platforms for a common goal–which is what social media is all about.

    If I had to go with a title I think Online Media Strategist or Specialist is where I would move toward. A key to social media is understanding the rich media components and then integrating them and making them accessible. To do that you need to have your pulse on the market even before it takes turns. One thing is for sure its time to moved toward dedicated specialists for social media. Days of throwing “social media” on top of all the other responsibilities is surely coming to a close. It simply demands too much time, research, and energy to be “just another responsibility.”

    This is all just my opinion of course :) I look forward to seeing what comes of your question, and where the dialog leads.

  2. Social media for individuals belongs to the individual, period. I don’t want somebody acting on my behalf.

    For companies, social media is a function that lives within whomever owns the brand – be it PR, Marketing, business development or customer service. There’s no one right way to do it, but somebody should be keeping track and watching how the company listens and communicates in new media.

    • Louis,
      I think you miss the point of the post. It isn’t about social media for individuals, it’s a discussion of what profession should manage social media on the behalf of employers and clients. The corporation as a whole owns the brand, different groups are responsible for different aspects of promoting it. The post is to generate discussions, among those involved, as to what current or new group within corporate or agency structure should lead the charge of social media.

  3. Pingback: You jumped on bandwagon but who should steer?

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