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The elevator in my building says it can hold 15 people. It is a little 5×7 Otis that goes up only 5 floors (counting the ground level). Each time I ride it I wonder how 15 people could possibly fit in it. The dimension of the elevator and the dimensions of people just don’t add up. Would we have to carry people? Stack them on top of each other? There is absolutely no way that 15 people should ever be in that elevator together. There’s the key, SHOULD.

At lot of times we think about what we can do (or want to do) instead of what we should do. I think this is what a lot of the current debate about which person/department in an organization should control social media comes down to. Here are my suggestions for what you should do.

Figure out which department tells the best story about your organization

Rick Alcantara ‘s article and That Company’s blog suggest that everyone – marketing, customer service, sales, risk management, public relations, HR, IT and graphic design – should control social media. But that sounds a lot like the idiom “too many cooks spoil the stew.” When everyone is involved in the messages then: 1) who is responsible for the message, and 2) is one, coherent story being told?

Now, if HR or IT can tell the best story about your organization then they should control social media. Steve Davies gives good reasons that marketing or advertising should not be in charge of social media – mainly that social media are about connecting to and relating to people (NOT selling products or services). Overall, as Elizabeth Sosnow suggests, the public relations department is going to be the best at telling your story, providing content and connecting with your audiences.

Figure out what your organization’s social media policies are (and adhere to them)

Not having a social media policy means that anyone who works for you can tweet about your organization. Gini Dietrich recently wrote about the Applebees social media debacle and pointed out that they should not only have a social media policy for their staff to follow (as well as the person monitoring their Twitter accounts) that they should also behave as they expect others within their employ to behave. Note the hypocrisy pointed out when it is later shown they violated their own “rules” by posting a receipt with a customer name on it.


Figure out backups for controlling your social media

One thing your organization should NEVER do — leave the passwords with only one person (especially when that person is not a full-time employee and/or is likely to be fired). For example, look at the recent HMV firings that played out over Twitter. That the Marketing Director didn’t know the passwords or how to shut down the accounts is ridiculous. Always have someone at the top who knows not only the passwords, but how to use the social media of your organization. It is never acceptable to be this irresponsible.

hmv tweets

In sum, there are several things you should do with social media. The first is decide who should tell your story. The second, decide what the rules are for who can tell your story and what they are allowed to say. Third, establish a chain of command for your social media including password access and social-media know how. Each of these will go a long way in helping your organization’s brand.