Deploy social media effectively

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Rosanna Fiske
Rosanna Fiske

Much fuss has been made in marketing, public relations, advertising and digital circles about who "owns" social media. Go to any conference or read various industry blogs and you're bound to come across a spirited debate on this very topic. 


In the end, it is a debate that solves little, so why do we continue to have it? These disputes have grown in frequency and volume as social media's influence and client spending have increased dramatically in recent years. What was once a glean in marketers' eyes is a medium that commands $3 billion annually in domestic spending, according to eMarketer. Not to mention its vice-like grip over every company, CEO and marketer. 


Each camp has its reasons, many of them valid, for why it should "own" social media. The arguments will only get louder as spending — just 2% of the $145 billion spent annually on public relations, marketing and advertising services — matches interest. 


Marketers claim they have the best knowledge of customer insights and purchasing decisions. Therefore, they should control the social purse strings. My colleagues in public relations believe that — as the world's best storytellers and experts in understanding human communications — we are inherently the most capable function to manage a brand's online presence. 
Likewise, advertisers know they control clients' ad dollars, which fund many of the world's top social networks. 


To which I say: Who cares? Clients and bosses surely don't. They only care about one principle: what grows the business. They're not worried about some protracted turf battle among marketing disciplines.
 It's not who owns it, but who works it best. That is all that should matter. Unfortunately, we appear to be losing sight of that.


Why not focus on what we can do best to help them achieve precisely that? The focus shouldn't be on who "owns" social media, but rather, how it can be deployed most successfully across an organization.
 If you're in public relations, you should focus on how well social media can help clients or your organization engage key audiences in critical conversations. If your calling is advertising or direct marketing, the focus should be the development of compelling social ads that influence consumer purchasing decisions. 


Ultimately, it comes down to business outcomes. The concept is very simple to apply. The powerful and growing social media pie is large enough that we can all own a different and unique slice and be assured it will grow in value for years to come. 


The next time you're thinking of firing off another missive about why your industry should own social media, ask yourself this: Do your clients or bosses really care?

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