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Which Department should manage Social Media in 2012?

In recent times events have highlighted that perhaps not everyone is fully appreciating the beast that is social media. For instance, let’s look to Qantas and Westpac as an example.

Qantas, following its industrial disputes, temporary shutdown and subsequent negative publicity appeared to try and use social media to leverage some positive sentiment. Unfortunately at the time there was too much heat out in the community. Social media unfortunately for Qantas, is not a fluffy vehicle for corporate benefit.

Westpac lifted interest rates in recent months resulting in plenty of unhappy customers, as did the other major banks also resulting in plenty of anger. What Westpac did wrong however was to delete the negative comments on their Facebook page. This is like a red flag to a bull and it only served to throw even more fuel on the fire.
If both these big brands with big budgets and plenty of resources can get it wrong then we should all sit up and take notice. However, it doesn’t have to be rocket science, we just need to remember that social media is simply a vehicle, a tremendously efficient vehicle for us all to communicate with each other.

So now that the marketing departments have convinced senior executives of the opportunities of social media, it’s now up to Corporate Australia to identify the risks. It’s amazing in a world that brands will spend thousands of dollars on focus groups before launching a product, yet Tweets are launched into the community without any consultation. By the way that’s not the world I want to see.
So who should be managing social media for Corporate Australia in 2012? Well it just has to be a combination of departments unfortunately. Let marketing create the campaigns and execute them but PR should play a part. Remember social media is public relations. If you find yourself in a quandary such as Qantas was some weeks ago, then don’t let marketing run a competition without PR’s approval.

The problem that faces us then is, all communication is measured and the Twittersphere for instance might pick up on it and then start pressing that dreaded ‘Unfollow’ button. So what to do? Invest resources, consult agencies, have a strategy, and ensure marketing and PR are working together.
It’s not by any stretch of the imagination a fool-proof method but the underlying notion here is to take social media seriously and understand that social media is just a vehicle for your consumers to communicate, and this will be positive and sometimes negative.

GUEST POST: Quentin Aisbett – Marketing Consultant at online marketing company OnQ Marketing. Follow him on Twitter or add him to your Google+ circles +Quentin Aisbett.

Zac is a link building specialist and a seasoned SEO professional. He manages a team of link builders and actively promotes some of Australia's biggest brands. Zac is an active blogger and also maintains Dejan SEO's news and updates section.

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