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#scrm12 – Who owns social?

March 29th, 2012 by Adam Tinworth

Neville Hobson sets the scene by showing the recent incident of a clash between Tesco and a mummy blogger.


Katy Howell@katyhowell – MD, Immediate Future

Nick Sharples – @SharplesN – corporate communications manager

Martin Hill-Wilson@martinhw – director, Brainfood Consulting

Aaron Stewart@kanasoftware - product marketing manager, KANA Software


Katy: Every function with a touchpoint to the consumer needs to be socially aware.

Neville blogged about this. I responded with the idea that it will become like the telephone. Owned by all.

Nick thinks “depends” is an important word. He’s seen three owners – one each in customer support, marketing and corporate comms. You need someone to lead it, not own it.

Martin thinks that the CEO should own it. That’s going to give you a strong picture of wether social is going to work in the business. The best owner is someone whose interest span the whole business – someone with “C” at the beginning of their title. They can change the culture, to the point where everyone owns the social.

Aaron – Those who have a stake should take ownership. Objectives should drive co-ownership. Who owns e-mail? For sale enablement? Sales? For Support? Customer support?

Neville thinks that there are different views (based on the debate) – with “depends” the point of commonality. Are we even using “own” in the same way. Martin thinks that there’s always a point of focus when anything new is introduced. Katy agrees as there’s a need for a catalyst, but she’s not so sure about the idea of a centre of excellence. Creating a separate department? Gives everyone the excuse to not engage. Nick thinks there’s a difference between a centre of excellent and a steering committee, sharing experiences and ideas. Marketing have moved from thinking social might be interesting, to wholesale enthusiasm and a desire for ownership. Aaron thinks that ownership is best defined as someone who has a stake in it. If you have a stake, you should take an initiative.

Martin – if you ask who can get value – everyone turns up to the table. How do we get this thing going throughout the organisation?

So, how do we get going? What’s the start point?

Nick believes that corporate communications should lead on this. That’s the department with responsibility with protecting the brand. You need to build a brand guardianship system across the business. Autoglass have a team of people monitoring Twitter and Facebook, and the CS reps can monitor, respond and chase. And occasionally they hit things that need to go to PR or corp comms. Martin – what’s interesting about great changes is that stories are inspiring because it’s one individual that decides not to fit in the box and change things. They take the simple view “how many ‘no’s do you have before you say ‘yes’ to me”. You need someone will to push the boat. Or a group of people who can work guerrilla tactics.  Twitter is a pretty useful proxy for determining if people “live it”. The other thing that is interesting is opening up the channels. A post on the Best Buy blog saw the CEO addressing the idea that their business model was in trouble – and was inundated by replies – including rom staff – telling him that he was wrong.

Lots of interesting feedback from the audience. General agreement about distributed ownership, but some contrary views on corporate comms as a leading voice – they tend to be too focused on brand protection rather than genuine engagement. At least one company has a serious social team of 20 – out of about 8000 – that seems successful.

Katy points out we’ve talked about risk and pain, but we haven’t talked about the companies that don’t have those people. Where there’s fear, you need to take small, chunky steps that show the C-suite rewards. Adoption can come organically, but it can also come because you build it into the process.

Nick – Corporate inertia is something everyone has to deal with. It took us two years before IT allowed our social media evangelists to see what they were posting on their work computers… It takes time.

Martin – Command and control is going out of fashion. We have a fluffy word – “empowerment” – for what’s next. What does it mean? Sun Microsystems social guidebook is: don’t be stupid online. That reflects an empowered company that knows how to behave.

Aaron – Listening is important.You need to listen before you can make an intelligent engagement. And who starts? Customer support. They now the customer experience.

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