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Enterprise Marketing & Promotions Management

Can the Harvard Business Review be Wrong?

By / May 2016


When a distinguished publication like the HBR publishes a story, it certainly makes you pay attention. After all, it is the HBR. Recently they posted an article titled “Social Media Is Too Important to Be Left to the Marketing Department”. It got my attention. It took a very important position as to what was wrong with many companies and their failure to truly execute social media effectively. But as I read it, and it is well done, I could not help but feel a nagging concern that maybe it might have things a little backwards. So, this being in the realm of social, I decided to check out the comments that followed the posting. I wondered if anyone else had doubts. And then I landed upon John S. He wrote as follows:

This all depends on company and social media page size, it’s not really accurate. For customer service oriented brands that actually see a high volume of questions and comments, it definitely does speed up the responses to outsource those responsibilities. Otherwise, a community manager should be able to handle it. But an even bigger aspect to the social media pages, quantified by reach and impressions, is when you think how the sites are designing their content feeds around stingy algorithms and expansive paid opportunities, you have to keep those responsibilities with a marketing department. Even the real social media “gurus” behind the sites have agreed. People forget that a post is still a marketing communication at the end of the day, whether you’re posting for a specific campaign objective or just for a larger brand-building play. You have to have a relevant message that speaks to a benefit in a social way. If you aren’t hitting the core marketing principles, you are likely just wasting money. That half of the social efforts should be entrusted to the marketing department. Ideally, you should delicate the customer service aspect of the pages to the customer service department if applicable.

EXACTLY!! John S. articulated what I was thinking. And beautifully I might add. In the end, the issue is as much who is in Marketing as it is the function being there. If people don’t get social, then they don’t belong in Marketing.

So, to my question, can the HBR be wrong. Sure they can. Although in this case I would say, IMHO, they weren’t wrong, just maybe not quite right. What do you think?

Contributed by Dave Henry, Board Member at Aptaris and Senior Marketing & Advertising Executive
Dave has over 40 years creating successful brands that customers love and companies depend upon. Nationally recognized for building the businesses of several large grocery retail chains, his career includes SVP of Marketing for Winn-Dixie and senior executive at Price Chopper Supermarkets and Star Markets division of Jewel Companies. He has been a leader at organizations such as the Food Marketing Institute and National Grocers Association. You can follow Dave on Twitter at: @d_f_henry.


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