Is Social media marketing, PR or customer service?

Paul Hughes All Members, Public

For years now, social media has been hailed as a game changer – the big new something that we all have to do. But what kind of tool is it? Is it marketing, PR or customer service?

TL;DR version: it’s all three and you need to right organisational setup in place to use it effectively.

Just another platform…

Let’s get two things clear: social media isn’t special and it isn’t a new paradigm.

Everything we do on social media has been done before in various forms through various media. All the social media does is provide a new platform and bring together several different disciplines.

Sure, it makes it easier to publish yourself and it’s now easier to engage directly with your customers, but the skills and techniques that you use have been around for a long time.

Who owns social media in your business?

The real problem with social media, particularly in medium SMEs and larger organisations, is establishing who owns it within a company. The reason this is a problem is that social is just a platform and it’s a platform where marketing, PR and customer service activities take place.

I usually split social media responsibilities like this:

(1) Marketing:

  • Scheduled messaging
  • Paid advertising/promoted messages
  • Dealing with potential future customers

(2) PR:

  • Day-to-day posts
  • Engagement with the accounts of influencers

(3) Customer service:

  • Existing customer enquiries

Of course, depending on how the business is structured, you may find it more appropriate to alter this model.

The big political decision though is who ultimately owns social media – if it’s marketing, PR and customer service departments get angry, if it’s PR then marketing and customer service complain, etc. This really isn’t an easy problem to solve.

Logically, social media is about brand representation online so a social media manager reporting to the brand manager (which typically means ownership lying inside the marketing department) is the way to go. This person should have responsibility for strategic use of the platforms but work closely with representatives in marketing, PR and customer service. They then need to have an administrator whose job it is to assign customer engagement to the appropriate team for response.

A quick and easy solution

If you need to get your company geared up and using social media effectively, then you really have two options:

  1. You can create a job spec for a social media manager, get it approved by HR, advertise the post, fill it, and pay a hefty salary.
  2. Hire an experienced social media consultant to establish strategy and workflows and devolve day-to-day operations to existing staff where possible or advise on new appointments were necessary.

It goes without saying that, as an experience marketing and social media consultant, I’m advocating option 2 🙂

About the Author

Paul Hughes | 3D Marketing Solutions | Business Member

Paul Hughes 3DMS

Paul is the MD of 3D Marketing Solutions, a marketing service that specialises in helping SMEs to grow their businesses. Most companies’ marketing goals fit into one of three categories:

  1. Increase visibility and awareness of your business.
  2. Turn online traffic into paying customers.
  3. Increase sales to existing and past customers.

“We can help you achieve your goals.”

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