A frequent discussion that occurs in both the press and the blogosphere at large is who manages a organisation’s social networking engagement.  Is it the sales team or customer services?  Maybe IT would have better handle on it?  Truly marketing should be running the Facebook profile?

Anyone in the organisation who’s role is to communicate with the organisation’s audience should be involved in social networking.   The problem is that the communication procedures they may already be trained in may not always apply online.  Social networking is an interaction and not a broadcast and proper training and policy are needed to ensure successful online communications.

A recent article in the Irish Independent [Link: http://www.siliconrepublic.com/news/article/13213/new-media/back-to-basics-rethinking-the-business-of-online-marketing/ ] further highlights some of the misunderstandings that old business thinking has with engaging online.

“He (Loren Feldman, 1938 Media) points out how these new web 2.0 services and social-media tools might be the hot topic today, but that the people talking about them are technology experts and not business experts with a payroll to meet.

‘It’s hype created by guys reading the same dopey websites. Online marketing is no different to the yellow pages. At the end of the day, we’re just trying to sell goods.’”

Online marketing may be as static and one-way as the Golden Pages but social networking is not.  The Golden Pages never talks back to you, nor does it move through the internet depositing public criticisms on your business when you do wrong nor does it praise you in the same manner when you succeed.

The tools that are now afforded businesses and the public alike are not exclusive or costly, nor are they hard to use technically.  However if you fail to see them as a two-way conversation you run the risk of wasting time on superfluous communication or, worse, being left behind as competitors give customers the time and platform to converse directly with them.

Successful social networking requires people to interact with the public rather than faceless brands .
While personality aids interaction it is also prudent that this is coordinated, planned and monitored.  An organisation’s PR agency or department is best placed to advise in how communications are managed.  PR practitioners are equipped with the communication skills to best deal with the public and to ensure that an organisation’s message is kept intact.

They have an independent view of an organisations place in the world and are equipped with the communications skills to cover your .

PR strategy and training is essential to ensure that no matter who in the business is operating in this highly-visible public space that the business values, standards and messages are all held intact through the interactions.  In fact PR has been doing this since it’s inception and as media becomes more interactive it only becomes more essential that PR is involved.