Owning Social Meda, and APA Breakfasting

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

My diary is filling up alarmingly right now, and it has been a hectic couple of days, but I just wanted to pause a second and blog a little about a talk I gave to the APA – the Association of Publishing Agencies – yesterday.

It was pretty much a standard “here’s why we use social media and how it fits into our ideas about money” gig, but I was surprised by how much reworking my decks needed. It was, in essence, a whole new presentation, because the ways we’re integrating social media into our business are changing rapidly. It actually forced me to sit back and think a little more deeply about where my working priorities should be over the next 12 months, and that was worth 20 minutes’ of standing in front of a sceptical audience on its own.

That said, I think the presentation went over well – one of the advantages of a breakfast event is that, even if you’re the last speaker, you’re just standing between the audience and their working day…

The questions were much as I’d expect – the future of print, for example. (I gave my standard reply – it has a future, but I think it’s going to evolve like theatre, as either an upmarket, high-quality product, or a cheap and cheerful, disposable thing. The middle ground is doomed.)

A more interesting one was the question of who owns a company’s social media presence. PR? Marketing? Editorial? An outside creative agency?

I suspect that this is the sort of question that will make as much sense in 10 years as “who owns the company’s telephone presence?” does now. Social media is, first and foremost, a communications tool, rather than a publishing tool in the traditional sense. The majority of social media roadcrashes I’ve seen from older publishing businesses has been as a result of misunderstanding that distinction, and now I’m beginning to see it from other businesses as they misunderstand it as a purely marketing channel (not helped, admittedly, by the 1001 “promarketing social media guru” blogs out there, recycling the same advice in 10 bullet points endlessly).

These “ownership skirmishes” will be a big feature of 2011, I suspect.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.