Chris Kieff started a very interesting discussion last week regarding what department should own social media. His thought was that human resources should be responsible. This post is a must read, especially the comments.
Prior to reading Chris’ post, I would have said hands down that social media belongs to marketing. But I can see the logic in his argument. If done correctly, social media has a strong corporate culture component that involves all employees. Most, if not all, initiatives that involve these two factors belong squarely with HR. Chris’ post has got me thinking…and I really can’t say right now where I sit on this issue.
But as I read through the comments, I realized there’s not a groundswell of people latching onto his idea. That really bothered me.
Actually what truly bothered me was what I read in the comments. There was a very polite dismissal of human resources. I read snippets like “ownership coming from specialists” and people “who are in sync with the corporate culture.” I couldn’t help but feel there’s some thought out there that HR shouldn’t own social media because it isn’t equipped and/or capable of directing it.
Hmmm. Not capable. No one has ever told me I’m not capable. Just because I don’t know a subject or I’m not currently using an app…doesn’t mean I can’t learn. It reminds me of a time when I worked for an airline. I was given the responsibility of managing flight attendant uniform ordering and inventory. I didn’t know anything about uniforms. In speaking with my manager, I asked, “Why me?” Her reply was, “If anyone can fix it, you can.”
So, let’s say you’re the CEO of a company who is talking about developing and implementing a social media strategy. You have to figure out who will be accountable for this new, vibrant strategy and medium. There are some departments that really don’t even figure into the conversation (like accounting and probably operations). The conversation most likely gets down to marketing and human resources.
Regardless of whether you feel social media belongs to human resources or marketing, I can’t help but think any strategic business partner wants to be an integral part of the conversation. And, I would think the CEO of any business is going to look at the projects each department is working on, the topics each department feels is important, and the willingness to take calculated risk in making an ownership decision.
Then, it comes to the day when the senior leadership team is at the table discussing who will own social media. I wonder how the conversation would go. I guess the first question would be, is human resources there?
Do you think HR can develop the company social media strategy?
If so, what makes you think they’re capable?
If not, why aren’t they capable?
What kinds of projects is HR working on that support the decision to give them social media?
Are they committed to making social media a success in our organization?
What would your executive team say? More importantly, what would HR say?
Ultimately, the decision should be centered around what’s in the best interest of the organization. It shouldn’t be about capable because everyone on your payroll should be capable.
My takeaway from Chris’ post wasn’t who will own social media – that’s just the catalyst. It’s about the capability of human resources. Are conversations about the composition and the viability of our profession sending the message that HR isn’t capable? Is it possible that HR is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy? Let me know your thoughts.