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    June 19, 2012 // 9:00 AM

    Who Should 'Own' Social Media at Your Company?

    Written by Pamela Vaughan | @

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    It's a common debate in many businesses. Just who should be responsible for managing my company's social media presence? Sales? Marketing? Customer Service?

    Do you want our perspective? How about all of the above? For most companies, social media management is a function of the marketing department, but there is a slew of social applications for your customer service and sales teams, too. Wouldn't your sales team like to know if their assigned leads were asking questions about your products on Twitter? And aren't customers constantly flocking to social media to complain about or seek help with products and services? In fact, according to a study from Booz & Company, 75% of marketers using social media identify customer service as a primary use of their social media platform. That being said, only 26% of respondents in the same study describe customer service as a department responsible for contributing leadership to social media strategies.

    Let's be honest. The old adage, "too many cooks ..." needn't apply to social media management. Marketing, Customer Service, and Sales can all have a hand in your business' social presence, and it doesn't have to be a headache. You just have to know how to organize it. So let's discuss how you can create a social media management function that everyone can take part in -- and profit from.

    Identify Your Contributors

    Let's be clear: just because you shouldn't limit social media management to only one department, doesn't mean you should have a million hands in your accounts. As I emphasized a few sentences ago, you have to know how to organize it, and part of this organization involves designating a few key players. So before you move on, identify who these key players are from each department. Ideally, you'd have one or a few people (depending on the size of your organization) from each department who are responsible for helping to manage your company's social presence.

    You should also assign one or two point people from one department to manage your company's overall presence. Because the marketing function of social media requires a lot of content creation/sharing and frequent updating of social accounts, you'll probably want your marketing department to ultimately drive your company's social presence. These social media managers will oversee the day-to-day operation of your social media accounts, as well as implement and carry out any social media marketing promotions. Essentially, these people will field and 'outsource' any sales or customer service/support-related queries that pop up in social media to the designated sales and customer service contributors.

    Choose the Right Tools

    For social media collaboration to work smoothly, you'll also need to implement the right tools. Otherwise, the "too many cooks ..." adage will start to apply. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available that enable you to manage social media collaboration among multiple contributors. When you're evaluating social media management tools, you'll want to look for tools that give you the ability to do the following:

    • Schedule updates for the future
    • Set up filters to monitor your business and keywords
    • Monitor multiple social networks
    • Support multiple collaborators 
    • Assign specific social media updates to your collaborators for follow-up
    • BONUS: hooks up to your marketing software for closed-loop social integration

    HootSuite, for example, is a third-party social media management tool that enables you to do all of the above. It even now integrates with HubSpot's marketing software to give customers the ability to monitor their leads' activities in social media, and better use social media for lead nurturing -- a huge win for Marketing and Sales.

    hubspot hootsuite 2 resized 600

    Now let's dive into each of your social media contributors and the roles they should play in social media management.

    Marketing's Involvement

    As we mentioned, your marketing department is likely to have the most proactive social media involvement, as marketing's main use-cases for social media are promoting marketing content and offers, and engaging fans and followers. Be sure your marketing point person is sufficiently balancing updates about offers, educational content, and content that engages (e.g. questions, visual content, etc.).

    It's also Marketing's job to work with other teams' contributors to be sure everyone has the opportunity to share the messages and updates that are important to those teams. For example, the customer team might want to share news of an upcoming webinar specifically meant for customers or announce the launch of a new customer-only email newsletter that customers can opt into receiving. To make this more efficient, have your point people create a sort of social media editorial calendar for the social networks you're participating in. Fill it with the marketing content and offers you plan to promote, leave some open spots for other team's messages, and give them access to the calendar so they can add their desired updates. To make this seamless, set a deadline each week for when submissions need to be made, and then schedule the content on a week by week basis. 

    And as the point person/people for your company's social media engagement, your social media manager(s) will also be responsible for monitoring mentions of your company, products/services, and industry terms. Make sure your point person routes questions to the appropriate social media collaborators in Customer Service and Sales as they arise. If you're using HubSpot's HootSuite integration, for example, and the point person notices that a lead in the HubSpot Contacts stream is asking a question about your product pricing, you might assign that update to your sales team collaborator who can either follow up directly or loop in that lead's assigned rep.

    Customer Service's Involvement

    According to eMarketer, 46% of customers want to solve a problem when they're engaging with a brand on social media, and 39% are looking to give feedback about a product or service. No wonder it makes total sense for customer service to have significant involvement in your business' social media presence. That being said, using social media for customer service communication doesn't go without its challenges. In fact, we've highlighted 7 of these such challenges and how businesses are tackling them in this past blog post. And while there are certainly challenges, that shouldn't deter your customer service team from getting involved. After all, who is better trained and capable of handling a disgruntled customer or answering a nitty gritty product question -- your marketing team, or a customer service rep? Do we even need to answer?

    Any customer service reps who are collaborating with your social presence should be at the ready to answer questions or respond to customers that your marketing point people can't appropriately handle on their own. Whether your customer service team is using the same social media accounts, replying via a dedicated "Help" account, or contacting the customer through another method such as email (all are acceptable options, depending on your business), the customer service social collaborator should be following up in a timely manner and providing the most helpful assistance manageable. Furthermore, these contributors should be collaborating with the point person to communicate important customer-related updates that pop up unexpectedly, such as software outages or maintenance.

    Sales' Involvement

    Let's not forget about Sales, folks. Your sales team is chatting it up with potential customers all the time, and knowing how to use social media to help them be more effective in the sales process can be a very valuable sales tool. And besides just responding to social media assignments from your marketing point people, your sales team should proactively be using social media to prospect as well as prepare for sales calls, follow ups, and nurture their assigned leads.

    If social media participation is new to your sales team, train them! Teach them how to locate their leads in social media to conduct some research in preparation for sales calls. Some marketing software, like HubSpot, may even show your sales team their lead's social media account information, if available. Does the lead have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or another social network or community popular for your industry? Once the sales rep has identified them, have them scan the lead's information and updates on these social media sites. Encourage them to learn about the lead's interests and pain points and strategize about how they can leverage these insights on their sales calls. After they've been in touch, Sales can even use social media as another way to keep in touch with and nurture their prospects by sending leads links to helpful content and looking for opportunities to answer their questions so they stay top of mind.

    What other social media collaboration tips would you share? Should other departments be involved in social media management? If so, who?

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    Topics: Social Media

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