Responsibility for social media activity is commonly adopted by a company’s marketing department, but it can feel like an awkward fit when not all social media activity is marketing-related. The question becomes, does the specified activity sit within Marketing, or a different department such as PR/Communications, Events, Operations or Customer Service? Which departments are responsible for which activities, and how can they work together to create a less siloed approach to social media?

Most often the department that looks after social media is the one that has the resources to pay for the advertising and promotion, the resource capacity to execute, or the authority to decide on messaging. At smaller businesses, the role is sometimes assigned to a single individual who ‘looks’ like they could do a good job because they appear digitally savvy.

The answer to who should own social media depends on what the main goal is for the business. Consider the following social media functions (you might even rank them) in order to determine the people who should be involved in managing them.

  • Generate leads
  • Sell products directly
  • Communicate with customers
  • Bring the brand to life
  • Keep people up to date on company happenings
  • Recruit new employees

How different departments can be involved:

Most businesses will have goals that relate to different departments, indicating that a cross-functional team is best suited to achieve the desired outcome. Here are a few examples on how different functional teams might need to be involved.


Communicating the brand and differentiating it from competitors is central to Marketing’s role, so they will likely own most of the content creation specific to social media, as well as extending any 360° campaigns across the social channels.

Customer Service/Operations

Customers who are posting photos of your property or products on Instagram should be responded to by someone who is skilled in replying to customers. In addition, customers with complaints are increasingly using social media as a channel to voice their frustrations.


Salespeople may want to be alerted when leads are discussing the product – or a competitor’s product – on social media. For online businesses, E-commerce teams can leverage social to drive purchases and track conversions.


LinkedIn is one of the most valuable tools for recruiting. Facebook could be another relevant platform for HR teams seeking to connect with graduates. Large businesses may need to maintain a separate social handle for HR, recruiting, and internal updates.


While IT might not own social media, they should be involved in educating other departments on security issues and administration.

How to manage cross-functional ownership of social media

The first step in dividing the responsibilities  of social media is assigning specific functions to individuals or departments, such as making the marketing team responsible for all content creation and the customer care team responsible for responding to comments and building the community. Once you have assigned all social media duties, you need to find the appropriate social media management tools for each department to use, as well as mechanisms to make the different functions clear, such as a unique sign-off on responses from the Customer Service team.

Publishing tools for marketing

Third party social media publishing software allows you to post to multiple platforms (Facebook, Twitter etc.) from one place, saving time and making it easier to ensure that messaging is consistent. Many of these tools, such as HootSuite or CoSchedule will also allow you to create an editorial calendar so that you can schedule content to auto-publish in advance.

Social-listening tools for real time customer service

Social media listening tools can be particularly valuable for sales or customer service teams who need to know who is talking about the brand and what they are saying. One study found that 53% of people expected to be responded to within an hour of posting a question on Twitter. Social listening tools filter for hashtags and @mentions that relate to your brand and allow you to send alerts to designated individuals.

Location-based social media listening tools such as Local Measure have the additional capability of allowing you to filter for social content posted within a defined geographical area – such as on your property – regardless of whether a hashtag or @mention is included in the post. Since approximately 70% of posts don’t include a hashtag or @mention, this allows you to see everyone who is posting on social media from your property in real-time and respond while they’re still on your site.

Whichever tool you use, the most important aspect is to make sure that everyone understands exactly what their responsibilities are and those of the other teams using social media. It can be useful to restrict permissions so that only the relevant department can take action on the task at hand. For example, you may want to restrict the creation of new posts to marketing staff only. That said, your teams should also communicate with each other, relaying insights derived from social listening, and letting other teams know about any planned campaigns so that they can coordinate effectively.

An empowered cross-functional social media team will always be able to deliver on the wide-ranging objectives for social media more effectively than a single team such as marketing. Social media channels are simply too important these days to not have the people most skilled in each function managing the related tasks. Read more about how to de-centralise marketing duties and the benefits of a hub and spoke model for your business.