Who Will “Own” Social Media Optimization in a Corporate Environment?

(Via the Mediapost blog)

A big question is addressed in this blog posting from Max Kalehoff, vice president of marketing for Nielsen BuzzMetrics. It might be shocking to the ears of online purists but the question needs to be asked as more and more companies embark in this new world. Where does social media optimization fit in a corporate environment? Where do you build that competency?

Public relations: Kalehoff says: “They were the first to fully understand and embrace the potential impact of CGM (Consumer Generated Media), which typically is uncontrolled and must be earned, much like the news media. But with few exceptions, public relations people have yet to push the needle in CGM beyond their core competency of media relations and associated budgets. But the opportunities around CGM are so much bigger. On the plus side, public relations agencies don’t have much to lose, because CGM is additive for them. But because CGM is potentially more disruptive and erosive to other marketing disciplines, I can promise all the public relations people that the pressure for others to build competency is quickly dialing up. Competition is on the way.”

Full-service advertising agencies: Kalehoff adds: “(…) like the PR agencies, there are a few progressive ones, which have invested substantially and created value for their clients. But for the most part, they are lagging. Perhaps it’s because CGM still seems so trivial and miniscule relative to those big television budgets? Why bother?”

Big media shops: he continues: “To be sure, many of these guys are making substantial investment in tapping into buzz to understand consumer decision processes and the way that word of mouth weaves into other media dimensions. It is perhaps the channel-agnostic investment approach that gives media people an edge in leveraging CGM. They have yet to really step up to the plate, but I’m betting we’ll see more action as CGM metrics, standards and best practices evolve.”

Direct marketers and interactive shops: “Relatively speaking, these guys have been walking the talk within the agency world. They’ve been heaviest among the agencies in investing in research, planning and execution, and connecting to larger brand programs, including with other marketing partners and agencies. Of course, these folks have the digital and database savvy required for larger scale programs, and are nimble to navigate the fast-moving and sometimes volatile nature of CGM. They’re also advantaged by the continued flood of marketing dollars online.”

Client-side marketers: “Barbara Bacci Mirque, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers, recently observed that “more and more advertisers are leading their agencies into new media, not the other way around,” and that “clients are the ones who are personally and professionally experimenting with new media forms and directing their agencies to look into them.” In the world of CGM, I can confirm this is true, and it happens across departments.”

Max Kalehoff’s prediction for 2007? “Client-side marketers will continue to lead, though they’ll soon begin to receive (and expect) a far higher level of support and expertise from the larger agency landscape. In fact, marketers will simply need more and more integrated support, to properly bake CGM into more complex marketing functions. Consequently, we’ll see agencies make massive educational and experimental investments to develop their unique value proposition and credibility. Each discipline will jockey hard where there is ambiguity or overlap of ownership, but broad fluency will rise and CGM will become a more holistic overlay in the entire marketing mix. ”

What it means: based on my current experience, I would say that the SMO thrust has been coming mostly from a mix of both interactive shops and client-side marketers. In any case, marketers need to start embracing SMO (potentially starting with blogging) and push their marcom stakeholders in that direction as well.

2 thoughts on “Who Will “Own” Social Media Optimization in a Corporate Environment?

  1. You should take a look at endeavors like http://socialurl.com that will become the white label platform for organizations and businesses that have large user bases. Each of these niche organizations can actually share content back and forth. This would also be an open ID platform.

  2. You should take a look at endeavors like http://socialurl.com that will become the white label platform for organizations and businesses that have large user bases. Each of these niche organizations can actually share content back and forth. This would also be an open ID platform.

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