Last night I had the immense pleasure of being invited to The Fantastic Tavern, a regular event run about every 6 weeks by the amazing people at EMC Consulting and hosted by the inimitable Mr Matt Bagwell. Over the last few years TFT has taken on a wide variety of subject matters but this time round the team showed remarkable bravery in tackling "The ROI of Social"... no mean feat indeed.It was a great event, packed with lots of intimidatingly clever people, inspiring content, great food and plenty of liquid lubricant. Highlights included the inspiring story of the socially operated mobile network GiffGaff, Freud spanking and Social Genomics (essentially a Haynes manual of the mechanics of social interaction). I'm certain to be digesting it all for quite some time to come!
The event concluded with a panel session which made a valiant attempt to tackle some of the burning issues within Social which I was invited to be part of (thanks Matt!) there was some amazing debate around such issues as how a business can move towards being more social, the power of "like"-ing and so on. The best question however was saved until last - Within a business, who should have ownership over social.
It fell to me to answer this first and, I'm slightly ashamed to admit, I made a bit of a hash of it. Unfortunately it's not something I'd ever thought about before and so I ended up mumbling some rubbish about empowering the young people in the business and that all parts of the business should have some kind of vested interest.
As I say, I'm not particularly proud of this answer, and although I still think that there is some truth to be found within it I acknowledge that it neglects much more - as was eloquently pointed out to me by the rather brilliant Jo from B&Q after the panel.
So... who should own Social within an organisation then? PR, Web, Marketing...? Unfortunately I don't actually think there's a proper answer for this... the reality is that social media can have relevancy for almost any part of a business and as such it's unlikely to ever have a standard home within one particular team. In some larger organisations this might mean that there will be a social department who have ownership over the company's social activities and act as enablers for the rest of the business's functions, in others it might mean that it's owned by one person within a particular team and in others still (such as King of Shaves) it might even be owned by the founder or one of the executives of the company, it all depends on the needs, makeup and objectives of the company concerned.
Ultimately I think there's only one thing that's important - that social has a champion within the business and that the champion is someone who has the knowledge - but most of all - enthusiasm to drive social forwards within the business - something that B&Q clearly don't need to worry about.
So... embarrassingly... I stand corrected... but no worries, isn't that what these things are all about?!