Manage Your Marketing: Don’t Worry About Owning Social Media. Worry About Sales!

5751301741_aa8463e472_mWhen Social Media became an increasingly powerful force in the business world, there arose in parallel an echoing question that moved from city to city, from industry to industry. That question was, and is, “Who owns Social Media?” Some say that social media is really a marketing tool. Others say that it’s a PR tool. Still other people point out that social media is really owned by customer service. Maybe IT departments are really the ones who own social, though.

I am not sure what the answer to this question is, but in my opinion, this question is not the right one to ponder. Before we worry about planting a flag for ourselves in the world of social media, we need to settle another far more important, age-old question.

Who is responsible for sales?

If you are primarily responsible for marketing, you might think, “That’s easy. The sales department is responsible for sales.” You might feel that it’s your sales force that should claim the most responsibility for increasing sales for your company. However, this gut reaction is a far reach from what we are encountering at a lot of companies. Many of our contacts are Vice Presidents of Sales AND Marketing. They are responsible for both departments, they need to hold both departments accountable, and they are held accountable for both sales AND marketing.

When you think about it, this melding of sales and marketing makes a lot of sense. The sales team is deemed successful when sales increase. Similarly, companies measure the success of their marketing based on how marketing impacts sales. When you think about it, marketers should be far more interested in working on how to lay claim to sales rather than to followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook. This does not mean they should compete with sales personnel, by the way. Rather, in an ideal situation, marketers should be working hand in hand with sales. When a marketing tactic generates a lead, the sales department should report to marketing how qualified that lead was and how many of those leads convert into sales. Marketers should be hungry for this kind of information. They should be pushing for information on when visits to certain website pages spike and whether those increases in traffic correspond to spikes in paying customers. Marketers should want to know what the sales team is producing in terms of content and whether or not that content reflects the marketing campaign as a whole.

These are the questions that marketers should be asking. Owning social media is not a priority for any department in the long run, or it should not be. In an ideally situated 21st century company, the communication between all facets of a company would be so seamless that “ownership of a platform” would seem ridiculous anyway.

As marketers today, make sure you do not get distracted by the periphery. Ask the right questions. Ask the real questions. Incoming money is what keeps your company going and growing. Fight for an ownership of sales. Ownership of social media will become increasingly inconsequential in the meantime.

Don’t you agree?

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/61056899@N06/5751301741 via Creative Commons


6 comments on “Manage Your Marketing: Don’t Worry About Owning Social Media. Worry About Sales!

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more Margie. When clients ask us about how we measure PR, I include in the mix of techniques that I recommend, some good old fashioned feedback from the sales team. I want to know whether our PR activity is making life easier for them,…if it is (and it should) then I want to know about it, and if it isn’t, I REALLY want to know about it…

  2. I actually disagree… though companies are build and mantained upon sales – or revenues, if they are service companies – focusing on sales numbers per se is known to lead you into short-term vision while a company has to think strategically – hence, in the long run. What you say makes some sense, but I think that we know all too well about the dangers of considering sales the priority. Managing your community of fans – whether online or not – is not some whim that people started to considere – though business trends are a plague sometimes, I must agree: it is something that we already know that has a clear impact on the outcome and survival of corporations. To treat it lightly is just not smart. We came from that vision to this one because we understood that it just wasn’t fitting anymore. And, by the way, managing a community of followers of a brand is not the task of a marketeer, but of a business communication expert. Besides pointed, it’s always good to have someone try to think outside of the trend, but sometimes… trends might just be right. It was a trend that started advertising, in the first place, so, sometimes, they really represent an evolution, not necessarly mass-hysteria.

    • I understand your point. Let me clarify though, we are not saying “Just focus on sales.” What we are saying is clarify priorities. Does it really matter who “owns” social? Factually, everyone in your company should feel ownership of your social media presence (ideally) for all of the reasons you just said.

      If given a choice between worrying about whether my department “owns” social or trying to increase sales, I’m going to worry about the latter. Unfortunately, in some companies, I’m not sure that’s the order of the priorities. That’s what we were getting at.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. Communication (whatever form it may appear in) is a human function that can be attributed to a company when you realize that it becomes a living entity. Such as Sales, Production, Accounting, etc it is a corporate function that needs to be addressed by experts that have studied it and that can be held responsible when something goes wrong. Although it is true that everyone communicates in the company – it is not possibile not to communicate – not everyone should claim responsability for the communication strategy in a company. If everyone is claiming it, to me it only shows two things: a) people recognize its importance and b) nobody is really taking care of it seriously, to the corporate level, which is a really bad sign of lack organization. To say that everyone should feel the ownership of a company’s communication is something that I agree only to the extent it does not become an excuse to treat it lightly as a synonym to “anyone can do it” and “we should focus on sales”. One is not in dispute in the other – one and the other are needed. To put communication to the background against sales is the same to say “let us not focus on production – let us focus on sales, because, in the end, it’s what really brings money into this company”. You cannot sell if you don’t produce… and you can’t either if you do not communicate and your customer is not aware of your brand and why buy your service or good instead of your competitors’ offers. Neither you can build brand equitity or brand loyalty without an effective, consistent communication plan. This can’t be done by anyone else besides a communication expert, that understands the nature of the company and creates a global strategy that is thought upon the «ways» and goals of the corporation. These communication goals, hand-in-hand with the corporate goals are then broken into communication taks-goals, handed over to more lower ranks in the hiearchy such as you do with any other corporate goal. But this aspect of the company his dealt with by experts, not Sales people, Marketing people, Accounting people or whatever. You cannot say that a company must focus in one and leave the other one to second place, because although sales are what a company’s survival depends on, it must never be their only goal: you cannot sacrifice it all for the sale. Do sell, but for each sale, considere up to which point is that even benefitial in the long run. If one tries to please everyone, pleases no one – doing things without strategy, focusing on sales may be a deformation of our times, in which companies try to survive to a global crises, think in short-term but we must not let ourselves be taken by that general feeling – instead we must focus on building a lasting reputation, even in times like this. Especially in times like this. You cannot chose to focus in sales or communication. You have no choice. You have to focus on both. Focus on your target audience and bound with them via your reputation. Through communication. I hope this time I made my opinion more clear. All the best

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