Who owns social media – PR, SEO, marketing, digital?

Who owns social media? It’s question that has been around as long as social media and almost the same arguments are raging today as when the ‘Who owns social media’ question first reared it’s ugly head.

Tomorrow I’m speaking at a debate as part of Social Media Week London where I’ll be putting the case for public relations. I’m not going to give my arguments away in this blog post (although I will do another one later in the week after the event). However, the gist of my case will be about who absolutely shouldn’t own the space as that’s a no-brainer – it’s the digital marketing agencies and SEO specialists. The case for who should ‘own’ it is far more nuanced.

It’s not the first time I’ve done this and the last time I did a did a big public debate on this was in April 2009 at the NMK (New Media Knowledge) ” debate. That one was a bid odd as I was debating against two other public relations people, albeit one who worked for a digital agency and another who ran an ‘online PR and social media agency’.

At the ‘Who owns the social space (or should)’ I’m up against:

Digital Marketers: Charlotte McEleny, NMA (New Media Age)

SEO specialists: Kevin Gibbons,  SEOptimise

Social Technologists: Benjamin Ellis, Redcatco

Social Media purists; Anke Holst, Speak for Yourself

It’s on Monday, February 7 at the Centre for Creative Collaboration and doors open at 16:30 ready for the debate to kick-off at 17:30.

The hashtag for the event is #ownSMW.

5 Replies to “Who owns social media – PR, SEO, marketing, digital?

  1. Stuart,

    This is a battle we are increasingly seeing fought as other online industries stake their claim for social media ownership. It’s unsurprising, given the explosion is social media adoption and perceived ‘gold rush’, but I’m adamant that PR is best placed to own social media in the vast majority of cases.

    I think your approach is correct e.g. who should definitely not own social media and that it is too nuanced to say who should. In an ideal world, PR agencies would empower in-house teams to own social media themselves, but due to a lack of resource, experience and understanding this is not always possible.

    I look forward to following the #ownSMW hashtag and seeing how the argument unfolds.



  2. Hi Stuart,

    I would have to say who cares. I think nobody owns a technology not least an emergent one. I think that is the point about Social Media. I think whether if you work at a media agency or are in your student halls you have access to an unprecedented volume of media coverage. To be a producer not just consumer.

    I liken it to around 1890 when the railroads were being laid. The fact that the railroad came to your door or your town was all that mattered. It is an even bigger deal that the track now goes to your door. It meant life and death for some as does any communications channel affect quality of living.

    Silicon valley hardly felt a recession so boom of technology is happening. I don’t think ownership coounts in times of expansion only times of contraction. This is the former.

    Thanks for writing this


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