Last Wednesday, Chris Kieff began a fascinating discussion regarding which department should have social media. He believed that it should be human resources who are responsible. This post and the comments are a must-read.
Before reading Chris’ post, I would have said that social media belongs exclusively to marketing. I see the logic behind his argument. Social media can build a strong corporate culture that includes all employees if done properly. These two factors are central to most, if not all, of the initiatives that involve them. Chris’ post got me thinking…and I can’t say where I stand on this issue right now.
As I read the comments, however, I noticed that there weren’t many people embracing his idea. This bothered me.
What I read in the comments was actually what bothered me. The comments were very polite and dismissed human resources. I was struck by phrases like “ownership comes from specialists” or “people who are in sync with the corporate culture”. I felt that HR should not own social media as it isn’t capable or equipped to direct it.
Hmmm. I’m not capable. Nobody has ever said I wasn’t capable. It doesn’t matter if I don’t know something or can’t use an app right now. This reminds me of when I used to work for an airline. I was responsible for managing the uniform inventory and ordering flight attendants. I did not know uniforms. When I spoke with my manager, she said, “Why me?” She replied, “If anyone can fix that, it’s yours.”
Suppose you are a company CEO and want to develop and implement a social media strategy. It is up to you to determine who will be responsible for this vibrant new strategy and medium. Some departments, like accounting and operations, are not even mentioned in the conversation. Most likely, the conversation will come down to marketing and human resource.
No matter your opinion on social media, marketing or human resources, I think every strategic business partner would like to be a part of the conversation. The company’s CEO will look at each department’s projects, what topics they feel are important and the willingness to take calculated risks in taking ownership.
It comes to the point when the senior leadership team sits down and discusses who will control social media. It is interesting to see how this conversation might turn out. The first question I would ask is, are there human resources?
Are you positive that HR can help develop the company’s social media strategy?
What makes you believe they are capable?
If they aren’t, then why aren’t they?
What projects does HR work on to support their decision to give them access via social media?
Do they commit to making social media work for our company?
What would your executive team think? What would HR say to your executive team?
The ultimate decision should be made in the company’s best interests. It should not be about being capable, as everyone on your payroll should have the ability to do so.
Chris’ post was not about who will control social media. That’s the catalyst. It’s all about the ability of human resources. Conversations about the composition and viability of our profession send the message that HR can’t do the job. Could it be that HR is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy? Please share your thoughts.