As the Business Development Manager for an Online Marketing, Creative and IT Staffing Company, I have seen the evolution and growth of these creative departments first-hand in my career. Because it’s my professional responsibility to keep an eye on the trends of this industry, I’ve been recently conversing with peers on the topic of Social Media.
Specifically, where does Social Media fit in the Organizational Chart? Way back in the “early days” (of 2008) Social Media was seen as a Public Relations function, but by 2010 the conversation began to shift towards Marketing.
So where are we today; does it belong under the Public Relations or Marketing departments, or is it a stand-alone function that should be cross-integrated with PR and Marketing?
Social Media: A Public Relations or Marketing Function?
On this issue, I have been of the opinion that Social Media falls best under the Public Relations umbrella because at its core, PR is non-paid for communications and includes internal and external audiences. PR is also a tricky dance, because while the messaging can be influenced and guided by the organization, ultimately someone else (usually the press) puts the final “spin” on the communication. In the Social Media space we see a similar dynamic, but it is the actual end users that can control the spin.
Marketing on the other hand, is paid for placed / planned media where the organization has 100% control over every aspect of the message. Having said that, it has become increasingly impossible to ignore the marketing opportunities inherent in Social Media: from the geo-location entities like Four Square to the simple “Like” on Facebook.
I am sure most of us have strong opinions on which department should win that territory war, and I welcome you to post your comments on this topic, but in the fast evolving world of Social the conversation has (surprise!) already changed.
C-Suite Executives for Social Media?
Today the discussion has moved to the C-suite level. Do organizations now need to add yet another title to the C-suite? We already have some nifty new titles being bandied about out there: from Chief Collaboration Officer to Chief Social Officer and Chief Community Officer.
Before you let out that groan of “not another re-org and expensive new top executive,” it is wise to remember the evolution of the CIO title (the last truly successful C-level addition to the organizational chart in 15 years).
I don’t think any of us can imagine any large organization without a CIO in today’s world. The basic reasoning for the CIO role boiled down to the simple fact that IT had become central to operations and service delivery across the enterprise.
So the question to ask now is the following: “Has Social Media become (or will become in the next 5 years) critical to the operations and service delivery of companies?”
My answer for today is “yes.” Social Media is going to be the future of internal and external communications: influencing the employee, end-user, supply chain and strategic partners. It will eventually control all stakeholder engagement, and that’s where actual business happens.
I would go so far as to say that until this function is consolidated (rather than the haphazard and fragmented housing now used) it may be a while before we see any consistent ROI from Social Media. As proof of this, it should not be lost on anyone that GM just cancelled its paid Social Media with Facebook at the same time Facebook is in the midst of what is shaping up to be a very successful IPO (or not?).
In the end, this opinion is only one voice in an attempt to forecast the ever-changing social media landscape. However, take some time to consider your own organization: define the department where social media falls, and evaluate how this communications tool could impact your future growth. What steps are you taking to manage this powerful medium? I welcome your feedback, and look forward to continuing this conversation.
Profiles is a unique staffing firm specializing in online marketing, creative, and interactive jobs. Since 1998, we have served the needs of our Clients and Talent by matching the best candidates with the best companies in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Author Name – Marie Gordon
Title – Business Development Consultant
Location – Washington, DC
Twitter – @MeetMarie
Byline – Marie has spent the past 15 years in the recruitment industry for creative, digital and communication professionals. She is passionate about branding, innovative marketing and watching the disruption of the status quo.
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