Who Owns Social Media?

I love the line from “Ocean’s Thirteen” when Roman tells Danny and Rusty that they’re “Analog players in a digital world.” I think about it a lot as it relates to the subject of the ‘digital divide’ – how everyday people can be excluded from conversations, especially those among experts, to get at the information they need. Part of the promise of social media is helping to bridge this divide. However, with promise comes ownership – responsibility really – and that’s exactly what we discussed at the San Francisco/Silicon Valley Social Media Club at CNET last night.



It was a panel discussion moderated by Seesmic’s Cathy Brooks and included Jeremy Toeman (Partner at Stage Two Consulting), Mike Manuel (Voce Public Relations) and Valerie Combs ( Director of marketing and corporate communications at Buzz Logic). Each person had their own point of view, but there did seem to be general agreement that ownership really means responsibility. So if ‘own’ equals ‘responsibility,’ who is in charge?


Cathy and Chris setting up the panel discussion.

Cathy and Chris setting up the panel discussion.

As you might imagine, the three panelists each had their own point-of-view with Valerie believing social media is a marketing responsibility, Mike saying it’s a PR responsibility and Jeremy agreeing with Valerie that social media belongs to marketing. but noting that there should be a distributed level of ownership at the heart.



From my point-of-view, I think social media is very much a shared responsibility and the greatest benefit we can provide to customers is recommendations based on best practices that are both strategic and tactical. Our clients have very different needs than the clients that the panel spoke to. Each used examples where there was a tie in to big media. Whether television or gaming, Eastwick’s high-tech and largely B2B client focus sets us apart. Some of the panelists’ experiences translate, but for my part, it drives home the importance and value we being when we target the right social networks, micro-bloogs, and help clients strike the best tone on their corporate blogs and social media newsrooms. We’re looking for their key influencers online, which can be a little trickier in the high-tech world; but we have strategies to address this. We know that a Facebook fan page is not a social networking program for our clients. We aim to put scalable solutions in place that allow our clients to see a return on participation (ROP) – not just on their dollar-to-dollar investment (ROI).


Interestingly, Social Media Club co-founder Chris Heuer spoke to the issues around the digital divide as a precursor to the panel discussion. He talked about the stake each of us have in social media, from PR, to IT, to ad sales, but also the real value we can bring as ‘social media ‘experts’ to help others learn to access experts and discuss ethics, as well as examine how we handle misunderstandings around verbiage as social media evolves. Interesting, the social media tools we use can dictate some of the confusion. For example, Twitter’s word count prevented Chris from using the question, ‘Who Is Responsible For Social Media?’ as opposed to ‘owns’ in the first place.


As tools are used more, I believe ownership of social media will increasingly expand. We’ll all be ‘digital players’, but it is who owns the successes, failures and goals of social media that is key.


[Cross-posted here]

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  1. […] as you know from my post last week, I attended a fab Social Media Club event. It was fab in every except that I was left a little annoyed. I guess I’ve allowed this […]

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