When 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