Neill, Marlene S., & Moody, Mia (2015). Who is responsible for what? Examining strategic roles in social media management, Public Relations Review, 41 (1), 109-118.


This study examined the strategic roles and responsibilities associated with social media management through the lens of role theory. The authors identified nine strategic roles and the associated responsibilities including policy maker, internal collaborator, technology tester, communications organizer, issues manager, relationship analyzer, master of metrics, policing, and employee recruiter.


The study design included two focus groups, one with human resources professionals and one with public relations practitioners, followed by an online survey. The 165 survey participants were recruited through the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Key Findings

  • As a sign of the growing influence of social media, 66% (96) of the survey respondents said social media employees serve in management positions.
  • Nearly half (46%) of respondent companies lacked social media policies, and less than 45% said employees were well educated on their employer’s social media policies.
  • Two new social media management roles were identified—policing and employee recruiter — which previously had not been identified in industry and academic research.
    • Policing involves educating employees about the social media policies, putting controls in place and notifying employees of inappropriate conduct; and controlling number of social media accounts on various channels.
    • The employee recruiter is responsible for portraying their company/organization as an attractive place to work, using social media to recruit new employees, screening job applicants’ social media profiles, and using social media to recruit diversity candidates

Implications for Practice

The skills identified with each of the nine roles need to be mastered to succeed in social media management and should be offered in the classroom as well as through professional development workshops. Of particular importance are interpersonal skills such as negotiation, collaboration, and listening, as social media management requires close collaboration with other departments.

Another area of attention needed is on how to use social media channels for screening employees since social media channels readily provide information on religion, race, political views, issues that legally cannot be asked in a job interview.

Article location

The article is available for purchase at:

Share this:

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
Follow on Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *