The critical issue of who in an organization should manage, monitor and measure social media content is unresolved and potentially misaligned in as many as 50 per cent of British companies, creating greater exposure to reputational risk and increasing costs, according to a new survey from marketing performance management specialist Ebiquity, conducted by its reputation analysis company, Echo Research.

The study found that in half (51 percent) of Britain’s companies, marketing communications strategy is set by both marketing and corporate affairs departments, while in nearly the same proportion (40 percent) it is set by marketers alone. In most (56 percent) companies, consumer brands are managed by marketers.

Responsibility for corporate brand management, however, is less clear cut. Marketing alone manages corporate reputation in a quarter (26 per cent) of companies, corporate affairs alone in a fifth (21 per cent), and a hybrid of both functions in nearly half (46 per cent).

Almost nine in ten (85 percent) respondents say it is essential to explain the impact of brand and reputation on business performance to the board, while only a quarter (26 percent) believe that their own business understands very well the impact of stakeholder perceptions on organizational success.

As a result, almost half (45 per cent) believe that their business would benefit from closer alignment of the marketing and corporate affairs functions. Marketing communications strategy is currently set and aligned by both functions working together in just half of Britain’s organizations.

According to Sandra Macleod, Echo CEO: “The power and reach of social media mean it has never been more important for groups to speak with one voice, and the impact of brand reputation on performance should be a board-level issue. This study found that, although the vast majority of brand marketers and corporate communications professionals agree that internal alignment is critical for business success, much of UK plc is still a long way from owning ‘matching luggage’ in both the corporate and brand centers.

“Companies are asking for trouble if they fail to align marketing communications across the increasing number of functions that touch the outside world, so it’s time to swap power struggles for the collective responsibility of truly integrated communication.”