Augie Ray posted a fantastic blog post the other day essentially stating that the marketing department needed to cede control of earned media if earned media is to move forward. While I agree with pretty much everything that Augie wrote, I felt one point in particular was missing.
The marketing department of the future must be a governance body, no different than the legal department is today. As Augie writes, “primary responsibility for social accounts, daily posting and organic content must shift out of marketing and to other departments, if this has not already occurred.” But someone must be watching. Someone must make sure that those daily posts and online engagement are on-brand and support a larger brand strategy, or at a minimum aren’t counter to a larger marketing strategy.
I’m not, for a moment, suggesting that marketing become a clearinghouse, like the legal department, where all messaging must pass through these gates before appearing in the wild, but more that it is the marketing department’s role and responsibility to provide the frameworks, tools and key messaging to those within the organization who are best positioned to provide this content and foster communities. Furthermore, it is the marketing department’s responsibility to monitor and adjust either their strategy or the frameworks, tools and messaging provided.
Did you catch that last part? It’s not just the organization’s responsibility to align their earned media efforts with marketing’s strategy, but also marketing’s responsibility to adjust their brand strategy with the output of the organization. There are two reasons fro this: authenticity and opportunity.
For example, say the marketing department believes that the organization’s brand is authoritative and decisive and the organization’s social media output is more collaborative, polling the community for knowledge and aggregating others’ insights. This is a signal to the marketing department that there is an authenticity problem with their brand. But there is also a potential opportunity to position the brand as a community hub. If the marketing department attempts to change the behavior of the organization, they ignore the opportunity. Furthermore, there is significantly more cost and risk any time you attempt to change an organization to align with a brand than if you align the brand with the organization.
Bringing the conversation back, full circle, what do you think the marketing department’s role is or should be in social media/earned media governance if Augie is right (and I think he is) and the day-to-day earned media activity is ceded to the organization? Tweet me at @steverobinson or post your comment below.