Interesting post by Christina Warren over at Mashable and even more interesting comment thread on “Which Department Owns Social Media?” Christina asks who actually owns social media in practice, and the comment thread discusses who “should” own it, if anybody.

In practice, it seems (from an econsultancy survey) that digital marketing (35%) and PR departments (21%) currently own social media (see graph). Presumably, the former includes the e-commerce team.  But because social media, online media that supports social interaction and user contributions, can be used in many situations, social media is not exclusive to marketing and/or public relations, but also used by customer service and support, and the IT department – for instance as an electronic communication tool as a supplement to email.  19% of organizations manage social media with a cross-functional team.

In the ensuing comments, the discussion is more about which department should own social media than which department does de facto own it, and apart from an unseemly land grab by various protagonists, there are many calls for everyone/no-one.

This makes sense.  In our opinion, asking which department owns social media is like asking which department owns the paper.  All departments use paper or can use paper – and they all may have separate guidelines on how they use that media and the content they add to it.  The point is social media is just media – albeit sophisticated media that supports user contributions and social interaction.  But, it’s just media nonetheless – a blank canvas to do what you will with. Just as you can use paper to communicate internally with colleagues, or use paper to communicate with partners, shareholders, recruitment candidates, or even customers – you can do the same with social media.  When the content is from  sales, the sales department owns the content – and should have its own guidelines, for marketing – the marketing department, for recruitment – HR, for reputation management – PR, and for customer service – the customer service department.

So for social commerce, when social media is used in the context of e-commerce, surely it’s the e-commerce team that should lead with an evidence-based, sales-boosting social commerce strategy.  Thoughts?