Who should fund social media: communications or sales?

The author suggests which department should be charged with the budget. Weigh in.


A few weeks ago, PR at Sunrise brought to light an interesting debate happening between communicators and sales folks. The topic was, “Should the sales team pay for part of the social media budget?

At first I thought, “Yes, the sales team should pay for a portion of the social media budget.” But then I thought about it a little more and changed my mind.

For the majority of brands, it’s problematic to make sales the primary focus for their social media efforts. Instead, communicators should be focused on brand awareness, brand reputation and integrity, customer service, building positive connections with customers and potential customers, positioning themselves as thought/industry leaders and so on. Sure, sales can factor into the overall plan, but it shouldn’t be at the top of the list for most brands.

If the sales team starts funding the social efforts, they’ll want to control the messages and skew the objectives/plans in their favor. That said, saddling communicators with strictly finding leads and driving sales puts them in a tough spot. How would you feel if before you went to a cocktail party, your boss told you to find sales leads and assigned you a sales quota? It’d be tough, because conversations between brands and people shouldn’t only be about selling.

I propose a new solution to this question, because obviously we want the sales team and the communications team to play nice. Let the communicators do their thing and fund their own projects. But, keep sales as part of the overall strategy (second to other objectives mentioned above). And, if the sales team experiences some success as a result of the social efforts, a portion of their commission should be paid to the communications team quarterly.

Creative campaigns via Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, etc., can be used to drive sales and help show the value in the communication team’s social efforts. Sales can then pay a portion of the increased sales revenue to the communications team as a measure of good faith.

What do you think?

Andrew Bartucci is a social media consultant and account executive from Toronto, Canada. He writes for and owns www.absocialmediasolutions.com. Contact him via Twitter @bar2cci. A version of this article originally ran on PR at Sunrise.

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