The Politics of Social Media

It is clear that social media is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for every company. Whether it is a local business in a small town, or a huge company like Coca-Cola, the way people communicate is changing and everyone needs to get with the program.

For the past five or so years, a large percent of companies have understood this transition and have joined different social media networks. Many companies, with a very broad understanding of the power of social media are able to manage it effectively. Nonetheless, other companies, whether big or small, that don’t have the knowledge of how to manage these networks often fail at engaging with their audience or even reaching potential clients. In many cases, the problem is deeper than lack of knowledge, but it’s an issue of politics within departments.

For example, the department I work for, Marquette Student Media Advertising, is going through a transition that has been tough, to say the least. We are trying to move away from working the way “it has always been done,” as we constantly quote, and we are trying to evolve with the technological era. A couple of years ago our publications and broadcasts created their own Facebook pages and Twitter handles. After taking a couple of social media courses and seeing how networks are managed in the “real world,” common sense would say that the advertising department is the one in charge of managing these accounts. That is not the case. For a quick background, Marquette Student Media is composed of editorial, magazine, radio, and TV departments, along with Student Media Interactive and the advertising department. Unfortunately most of these departments don’t work together (yet). Here is where the “political BS” comes in.

Advertising agencies like Laughlin Constable have a team of social media experts who handle all of their clients’ networks. Their social media department is responsible for learning and understanding everything about their clients’ products, business strategy, and mission statement. They are clear and consistent in the messages they portray, and help their clients connect with their audiences in a deeper level.

Other companies like General Motors, which is composed of many departments and many products, have their own convenient way of managing their social media networks. As Mary Henige from GM explained, there is no way that in such a huge company like the one she works for, everyone is going to know everything about every department. That is why four people handle GM’s social media. Among those four people one deals with customer service, and another with new product question inquiry. This way they don’t miss a customer and they can provide them with any type of information or service they desire.

Going back to Marquette Student Media, these are political issues that have to be addressed. All the departments are going through a restructure and hopefully we can all, eventually, get past the political BS and work together towards the same goal. The same applies to any other company that is presented with similar disputes within their departments.

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