Social media: Whose job is it anyway?

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In the last year, what is the best example of an effective use of social media?
The next question I asked the respondents was, "who is doing a good job in social media, and what executions really stood out?" I told the respondents to feel free to reference their own work, as it would not be fair to ask industry leaders not to recognize their own work. Some took me up on that offer.

Some of the initiatives mentioned were: 

[Author's note: Many parties touch any given campaign. With the above examples, I've done my best to identify the lead agency]

The campaigns above were handled by a few different types of agencies. Digital agencies in some examples, in-house teams in others (where there may or may not be an agency involved). There are also two agencies that, for lack of a better term, I will refer to as specialized agencies: IZEA and Buddy Media. It is interesting to note that none of the campaigns above were driven by a PR agency. Sure, my question was only given to six individuals, but they are all very influential and opinionated -- I do not think it is unfair to say that this sample group is indicative of something substantive.

Am I trying to say PR agencies are not fit to handle social media duties? Not at all.

I can tell you through personal observation that it seems digital agencies are trying to get to the social media finish line faster than many PR agencies. That, however, does not mean they are doing it well. I think many clients turn to their digital agencies for anything that occurs online. At the time being, most social media occurs online, and the expectations by many are that this should be handled by the digital agency. 

What competency does social media resemble most?
The lines between the various disciplines in our industry have been drawn, obscured, and drawn again. In reference to social media, it is hard to say which traditional discipline it resembles the most. At the end of the day, the best strategic thinkers will rise to the top, but it helps to know where to find these thinkers.

I asked the respondents a multiple choice question with the following options. What competency does social media resemble most?

  1. Public relations
  2. Marketing
  3. Advertising
  4. All of the above
  5. It depends, stop asking silly questions, Adam!

Here are the results:

I think it is safe to say that social media does not fall into the hands of the traditional advertising agency. It becomes a little more difficult when trying to determine whether social media marketing is a function that falls under the umbrella of marketing or public relations.

While I have remained fairly neutral to this point, I am now going to break my impartiality.

I believe PR, advertising, media, digital marketing, social media, and any other competencies in this arena are all subject to the will of "the market." Strategies need to be defined by consumer needs, stated desires, and forecasts. Despite any formal definition, it is my opinion that from a purely semantic point of view, all of these competencies fall under the umbrella of marketing. Perhaps my question was unnecessarily pedantic and merely lead to a mess of semantic entanglement, which does not help us solve the problem at hand. My statement, "all competencies fall under the umbrella of marketing" does not help solve the conundrum of who should handle the execution of social media marketing, but it does help set us up for the remaining pieces of this discussion.

Do I think the marketing department should handle all chores associated with social media? No. In the next section, I'll explain what I do think.

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