Are Publishers Afraid of Social Media?

In Folio: today, Matt Kinsman reports on an MPA conference session called “Who Controls Social Media at Your Magazine Brand?”  To my ears, it’s a question that’s at odds with the essence of social media. It suggests that not only do magazine publishers not yet understand social media, they’re actually afraid of it. The unstated assumption seems to be that if someone doesn’t control it, all hell will break loose.

In his article, “For Publishers, Who Are the Gatekeepers of Social Media?”,  Kinsman quotes Hearst’s Matthew Milner as asking whether all stakeholders should “be given the capability to tweet.” Moreover, asked Milner, “is the ultimate stakeholder necessarily editorial, or marketing, or could it even be the technology department, which may ultimately own the cost of social media?”

Thinking of social media in terms of control simply doesn’t work. Social media’s not a product you control, but a conversation you participate in.When you try to control a conversation or restrict who gets to talk, it won’t be very productive. You might make your point, but you won’t hear everything you should.

It makes sense to develop a clear brand strategy for social media and share it with all your publishing staff. But why should a single department, whether editorial, sales, or marketing, “get the keys to the engine”?

Perhaps I’m being naive, but I’d rather let leadership in a brand’s social media efforts develop naturally. In the end, if you try to rigorously control who is given access to social media and what they say, your efforts are bound to fail.

2 thoughts on “Are Publishers Afraid of Social Media?

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