Whose Job Is Social Media, Anyway? No One Seems to Know Credit: Social media image via Shutterstock

As social media takes on a more important role for businesses, leaders are struggling to determine who should be in charge of those efforts, a new study finds.

Research from staffing firm The Creative Group revealed that nearly 40 percent of executives surveyed believe social media should be handled by the public relations or communications department; 35 percent think the marketing department is best equipped for those responsibilities; 15 percent say customer service; and 5 percent think the CEO or owner should be in charge.

With a previous study showing companies will be channeling more dollars toward social media, The Creative Group offers four tips to help companies delegate social media activities.

  • Make it a group effort: There are many aspects to corporate social media — including posting updates and engaging with followers, responding to customer queries and complaints, and analyzing activity — and it's a lot for one person, much less one department, to handle. Create cross-departmental working groups to manage social media activities, leveraging the strengths of different teams. Also be sure to establish clear success benchmarks and accountability for reaching them.
  • Scout for internal talent: Identify employees who have expressed an interest in social media and can help drive the effort -- whether from a strategy, execution or maintenance standpoint.
  • Communicate best practices to all employees: Even for those companies that plan to rely solely on a select group of people to represent their brand via social media, all employees should be provided with company guidelines regarding posting content, managing feedback and handling negative commentary. Employees equipped with these best practices may become the company's strongest brand ambassadors, even if they're tweeting and posting from a personal versus corporate account.
  • Bring in reinforcements: Social media moves at lightning speed and current staff may not have the time or expertise to keep up with the constant activity. Bringing in expert freelancers who have experience developing, launching and managing social media campaigns can help alleviate the workload and provide the expertise a business may be lacking.

The research was based on surveys of more than 400 marketing and advertising executives in the U.S.