Social Media Directors should know how to do their jobs without having to ask for help every five minutes:
So I look down and the (twitter) DM reads: “Hey, can you help me out? Not sure how to do this. How do I use Twitter to gain traction for my company? Thanks!” I stare at it for a while and decide to blow it off for now, not because I have better things to do (which I do) and not because I don’t really have time to build a Twitter business plan for this person right this second (which I don’t), but because that DM comes from a newly minted Social Media Director at a fairly visible company who basically just asked me to help them hold on to a job they obviously didn’t deserve to be hired for.
I slide my Blackberry Storm into my back pocket and find myself flashbacking to 11th grade: It’s final exams time and I am in hour two of IB Biology. The essay section. One of the kids in my class is behind me, gently kicking my chair, whispering, begging me to move my scrap/notes where they can read them.
And I am almost tempted to do it.
That same conversation starts taking place in my head. I’m in a position to help someone in need. But wait… cheating is cheating. Don’t do it. But still, I feel that I should help. Arrrgh…
I reach for the blackberry, launch Twitterberry (which is not my favorite app, by the way), and respond: “Wait… You got the job, right? Don’t you know how to do this? Isn’t that why you were hired?”
For hours, no response. And then it comes. “Yeah, but I’m in a little over my head. I’ve never worked with Social Media in a business context before. ;)”
Again. This from a Director-level individual now working for a pretty well known company.
I suffer through similar exchanges weekly now, and I am not happy about it. What does this trend say about what types of people are going after Social Media management jobs – and landing them with alarming frequency these days? At the very least, I am worried about how this is going to end up hurting Social Media’s legitimacy in the business world. (Watch the video for my reasoning on this specific point.)
If the video doesn’t launch, you can go watch it here. Thanks, Viddler).
With this disturbing development weighing on me more and more these past few months, I’ve been thinking long and hard about what is going on in the Social Media “management” world, and I’ve basically come down to two conclusions: The first (which we’ll get back to in a few minutes) is that the qualifications of Social Media Directors may not be entirely clear to the folks interviewing and hiring applicants for those positions. The second is that as a result of this, confusion, we are now looking at three distinct types of Social Media Directors/Managers scampering about in the corporate world, some good, some okay, and some really bad.
The first type is the best type: These folks are super smart, talented, experienced in a broad range of disciplines, have an established footprint in the Social Media space (through blogs, Twitter, Ning, various communities), are recognized as thought leaders (or as emerging thought leaders), and are unquestionably passionate about what they do. Folks like Chris Brogan, Frank Eliason, Amber Naslund, Mack Collier, Beth Harte, Valeria Maltoni, etc. These are folks who are truly writing the book on how to build social media practices and smoothly integrate them in the organizations they work with.
The second type isn’t quite as savvy, but it isn’t lacking in talent, smarts and enthusiasm. These are people who basically don’t know how to be Social Media directors yet, but are learning fast. And most importantly, they are completely open about the fact that they are still in that learning stage, which means that their employers are okay with it. In spite of the fact that they are still very junior, the companies they work for saw in them a lot of potential and decided to hire them toward that end. (I dig people like this a lot.)
The third type is what I would call the bad type. Not bad as in cool, but rather… bad as in unethical, inept and unprofessional. These are the con artists. The shams. The hacks. The folks whose egos and selfishness led them to a moment in their lives when they unapologetically took a job they knew they weren’t qualified for. And now here they are: Social Media Director for Company ABC, soon to move over to Company XYZ, and so on. One position validating the next, one impressive brand on their resume justifying consideration by the next, and so it goes: A perpetual daisy chain of high profile Social Media management job built on unadulterated douchebaggery and thinly-disguised mediocrity.
(Ironically, this third group tends to be the same one that perpetuates the notion that Social Media ROI either doesn’t exist or is “unwise” to try and measure. Yeah. Convenient, isn’t it?)
Before we go on, here are some red flags to help you identify deadbeat Social Media Directors:
Every time you see a major global consumer brand engaging with less than 5% of its active (vocal) customers on a popular Social Media platform like Twitter after 8-10 months of activity, you can bet that their Social Media Director belongs to that third category.
If every time you walk into your monthly status meeting with your new Social Media Director and ask them for the latest, they either talk to you about google analytics, confuse you with endless spreadsheets or launch into a “Social Media takes time” monologue, chances are that they belong to that third category.
If you ask your Social Media Director why their efforts aren’t scaling very fast or producing the numbers you expected and they give you a story about engagement not being a numbers game, chances are that they belong in that third category.*
If when you ask them for real business metrics, impact analysis and (god forbid) ROI and they either give you a blank stare or explain that these things don’t apply to Social Media, they probably belong to that third category.
And when you ask them how they plan to integrate Social Media into customer service, Human Resources, Public Relations, Marketing, Business Development or any other silo in your organization and they schedule a later meeting to address that instead of answering on the spot, guess what category they probably belong to.
The thing about that third category is that they’ll never admit that they don’t know something. Because they get by every day by producing massive amounts of bulls**t, they will automatically default to making something up on the spot or deflecting questions with well crafted excuses. That’s their most damning trait, and what gives them away every time: They always know, and they’re never wrong (except… they don’t, and they are, and now you’re wise to it).
* Simple test to prove or disprove a “depth before breadth” response:
First – On Twitter, look at the number of brand mentions vs. the number of your brand’s account mentions. Big difference? Ask why. Then ask your Social Media Director what they are doing to raise awareness for your presence in the space. Breadth matters, no matter what your overpaid hack of a Social Media honcho tells you.
Second – Look at the number of comments directly aimed at your account. 20 per day? 50 per day? Now look at how many of these requests for attention were acknowledged with some sort of reply. 100%? 80%? Less than 25%? If your Social Media Director claims that they are focusing on depth of engagement instead of breadth, yet they only respond to less than half of the handshakes thrown at them daily, maybe it’s time you found out what he/she actually does with his/her time.
What should you be looking for in an applicant interested in becoming your next Social Media Director ?
I could go on with my indictment of poser Social Media Directors all day long, but I would rather put this post to a more productive use: Since so many of these hacks are getting through the recruiting filter, why don’t we focus on helping interviewers distinguish good applicants from bad ones, starting with some traits and skills they want and need in a Social Media Director. Think of this as a checklist for would-be Social Media Directors, and please feel free to add your own suggestions by leaving a comment.
- Applicant has developed and managed marketing programs before. Not just campaigns but programs.
- Applicant has had a continuous professional presence in the Social Media space (via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Ning or other platforms) for at least one year.
- Applicant has managed a business blog and/or business community for a minimum of one year.
- Applicant has built or managed a community for longer than one year.
- Applicant has at least two years of experience managing projects and working across organizational silos.
- Applicant has managed a brand or product line for more than one year.
- Applicant has demonstrated a strong ability to forge lasting relationships across a variety of media platforms over the course of his/her career.
- Applicant understand the difference between vertical and lateral action when it comes to customer/community engagement – and has working knowledge of how to leverage both.
- Applicant demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the Social Media space, including usage and demographic statistics for the most popular/relevant platforms as well as a few niche platforms of his/her choice.
- Applicant has managed national market research projects.
- Applicant demonstrates a throrough understanding of the nuances between Social Media platforms and the communities they serve. (Example: MySpace vs. Facebook or YouTube vs. Seesmic)
- Applicant understands the breadth of tools and methods at his/her disposal to set goals and measure success in the Social Media space. (Applicant’s toolkit is not limited to Google analytics.)
- Applicant can cite examples of companies with successful social media programs and companies with ineffective social media programs. He/she can also argue comfortably why each was either successful or unsuccessful.
- Applicant has been active on Twitter for more than 8 months.
- Applicant knows who Chris Brogan, Jeremiah Owyang and Peter Kim are.
- Applicant is comfortable enough with business measurement methods to know the difference between financial impact (ROI) and non-financial impact. He/she also knows why the difference between the two is relevant.
- Applicant demonstrates the ability to build and manage a Social Media practice that works seamlessly with PR, product marketing, event management and customer support teams within the organization.
- Applicant has managed a work team for more than one year. He/she was responsible for the training and development of that team.
- Applicant has spent at least one year in a project management role outside of an ad agency, PR or other Marketing firm.
- Applicant can tell a personal story involving either Digg, Seesmic or both.
- Applicant has been responsible for managing a budget/P&L.
- Applicant demonstrates a high level of proficiency working with popular Social Media platforms and apps such as FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Ning, Seesmic, YouTube, FriendFeed, WordPress and Tumblr.
- Applicant is capable of mapping out a basic Social Media monitoring plan on a cocktail napkin.
- Applicant is more excited about engagement, building an internal practice and finding out about your business’ pain points than he/she is about firebombing you with the full scope of their Social Media skills’ awesomeness.
- Applicant already has the framework of a Social Media plan for your company before he/she even walks through the front door, and thankfully, it doesn’t involve setting up a fan page on FaceBook.
- Applicant actually knows how to use Twitter to help your company build brand equityonline and offline without having to DM people for help.
Your turn. What do you think is missing from this checklist?
And how do we stop this kind of nonsense?
Your example of that SM Director who was basically begging you for help pisses me off as a social media/community guy on the job hunt. It’s amazing the type of people that are able to procure these positions when they have as much knowledge of the space as someone who has been on Twitter for a couple of weeks.
I understand that the company could be to blame as they may not even know what they’re looking for, other than having a shiny new director for that shiny new toy we call, Social Media – and I’m glad you’ve listed the above bullet points to help such companies. But, to those in the same position as me, it’s a bit disheartening when people get hired for either their expertise in BS’ing, or the fact that they may have a more well known face but not the chops to back it up.
Anywho, thanks for the post Olivier. Much needed.
Sonny, I was thinking about you while I was shooting the video and crafting this post. That some of these clowns have landed positions that should go to bright and Social Media savvy people like you makes me even angrier.
How the Nikes, Coca Colas or Microsofts of the world haven’t snagged you yet is beyond me. Companies should be fighting over someone like you.
I just stopped smacking my head against the wall long enough to read this post. I too have been engaged by people on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., about how to do something when they simply have the job already. Now I do not profess to know everything about social media – its vast and continuing to evolve. I didn’t pass the social media bar exam – if one ever existed, but I do know that every time I have been contacted about how to do something or another, it just seems to disappoint me because that company and its brand is probably going to take a HUGE hit in the respect, relationship, communication and trust departments. As a person passionate about brands and the value they bring to us as customers, I cannot begin to tell you that this post was a long time coming.
I hope to rise to the ranks you and some well known leaders have risen to (*bows with respect*).
Keep the good word coming. Maybe it might be a good idea to formalize a kind of position qualifications document and post it on the site for downloads. I have some experience in developing marketing operations positions with KPI’s in the short, mid and longterm for such positions – maybe I can assist?
Well put, John. “That company and its brand is probably going to take a HUGE hit in the respect, relationship, communication and trust departments.” That is so true.
You know what though? If “professional” Social Media managers are asking you for advice, guess what: You’ve risen to the ranks. Keep this in mind: The most talented people in the SM space aren’t necessarily the most vocal or the ones with the most followers. 😉
Maybe we do need a bar exam for SM. I’ll bring it up to the cabal of Social Media Jedi at the next secret meeting. 😀
Something that I picked up from some of your earlier posts:
Applicant can distinguish different ways of increasing ROI (Frequency, Reach, Yield metrics) and has implemented social media strategies to do to so.
Actually, even just knowing that these terms exist would be a good start!
😀 Yes. No kidding.
Though I want to caution that a Social Media Director shouldn’t necessarily be the guy who focuses on business metrics. Execution is more important, and a company can task someone else in the company to actually do the measurement so the SM Director is free to do other things… but yeah, a macro and micro understanding of how to measure success and tie that success back to business objectives is pretty important in my book too. One could even say that this one point is what separates community managers from Social Media Directors.
Excellent point, Rathan.
Olivier, I am new to the SM space and your blog but a comment above caught my attention. Can you explain what the difference is between community managers and SMDs other than the seniority level? And what is the distinction between SM moderators and community mgrs? I am finding it rather murky and often job descriptions are not accurate or try to cover too much ground. Basically they are trying to hire one person to do the job of three for a single low price. Your thoughts? Merci!
Every company is different, so I can’t really answer your question. But what I can tell you is this: You’re right. Many companies try to create job descriptions in this space that cover far too much ground. Unrealistic expectations, too broad a range of skills, and often for too little pay.
You realize, of course, the inherent weakness of your interrogatory: the interviewer needs to have a passing acquaintance with SM and its components in order to process the answers.
You could just as easily provide me with a list of questions to ask a Java programmer, but without a fundamental understanding of programming and Java technology, I would be entirely incapable of discerning whether the respondents answers were impressive or simply impressive bullshit.
Until the hiring authorities gains at least a fundamental understanding of the SM space and available channels, we’re going to see some pretty ridiculous hires.
Crap. Your logic just kicked my enthusiasm in the nads. You’re 100% correct.
How do we educate CMOs, recruiters and HR managers a little better? Any ideas? Should we build programs for SHRM?
Hat tip to Jacob Morgan for introducing me to your site because he and I always talk about ROI.
I was in fact actually reading comments because I wanted to put @John Heaney’s comment. HE BEAT ME! 🙂
Jacob, Connie and I recently started a consultancy so together and just a few weeks ago I raised the concept of having a hiring service because someone senior at the City of Calgary had asked me if I could recommend anyone (knowing I was unavailable – his words not mine).
I realised then this concept had some legs and not only that, it could be a situation in which we have a moral and ethical obligation to do so if not a economical one.
We are in the know (or at least others think we are), and as those who are, it is our responsibility to help and assist those who are not. It is communal responsibility at the least is it not?
Additionally as you pointed out these poor hires ultimately set us back and hurt our industry.
So my thought is do it because it is the right thing to do, but if you are not that kind of moral, community oriented person than do it because these guys are indirectly kicking you in the pocket book.
Thanks for that, Roger. 🙂
I’m still a little torn. I don’t want to come across as libelous or slanderous, so I doubt I’ll ever sabotage anyone’s livelihood on account of their misrepresenting their skillset and abilities. So I’m not going to start calling up major companies who have hired posers to give them a heads-up. (I don’t have time anyway.)
That said, if any of them is dumb enough to speak out or invite a debate in a public forum (like Twitter or a conference), I will most likely give them the public shaming they deserve.
In other words, I’ll jump in the ring with any of these unscrupulous folks, but I won’t stab them in the back. I don’t feel comfortable doing that.
Now… if a company asks me what I think of someone though, I will give them an honest answer. 😉
Umm I don’t even remotely think I was implying stabbing anyone in the back. Hmmm, reread what I wrote and confident you mis-read my comment and I am hoping you are the only one.
What I (intended) said is starting a service that helps organisations find qualified social media people. I figured that was clear.
If you reread the 2nd paragraph
“I raised the concept of having a hiring service because someone senior at the City of Calgary had asked me if I could recommend anyone”
and then transition from that point, I think you will understand what I wrote.
If I am wrong, then I would like to take down the comment because your interpretation is not at all what I was thinking when i wrote it. 😦
Right. I just took the opportunity to cover that point in case anyone ever feels the need to ask. No worries. 🙂
Great points Olivier,
As a person who has 12yrs experience in the radio industry, but a huge passion for the social media aspect of the internet as a designer/blogger/developer (over the past 10yrs) I wonder what of Social Media Directors/Manager I would be?
The rules of personal/one-on-one interaction and branding have been burned into my brain, but without a marketing degree I wonder if I could qualify my experience as a Social Media Directors/Manager? I think I ticked off at least 60% of you points above – I guess management experience is the defining quality required in my desired career path.
Thanks again for your guidance!
Darrin, every company has different needs so I wouldn’t disqualify anyone because they don’t have the right degree or doesn’t perfectly answer every question on the above list. Ultimately, it’s about fit and potential. In other words, I put a much bigger premium on what you are going to do rather than on what you have done in the past.
I’ve worked with guys whose resumes were stellar: VP of this and that at one major brand after the other… and they sucked. They were a complete waste of space. And I’ve worked with people with absolutely no professional pedigree who were so unbelievably smart and talented that, given the opportunity, could turn an industry on its head.
Passion and adaptability go a long way, Darrin. 😉
Nicely said. The practice of hiring in general is archaic for many businesses. Those practices combined with “that shiny new toy we call, Social Media” is a recipe for disaster. Thanks for the list of qualifications, and getting on your soap box so many of us don’t have to.
Thanks, Josh. I appreciate that. 🙂
“whose egos and selfishness led them to a moment in their lives when they unapologetically took a job they knew they weren’t qualified for.”
Wow that’s quite an insight you have into their lives. Or alternatively, they took a job that looked interesting, because they needed a job and it paid well, and they could convince their new employer that they were able to do it. They couldn’t say to him/her that they would be learning on the job, because that would mean they wouldn’t get it. Now they have it, they’re turning to consultants to help them get the job done.
One would imagine they’re the lucky ones – they’ve found you. Except you think they don’t deserve you, so they’re now going to find someone less equipped to help them, which means the company is going to embark on an ill-fated SM adventure that might put them off for life.
The way of the world Olivier – people who can convince others that they deserve a job that they are ill equipped to deliver on, who then turn to consultants for help. It’s always been so, since the dawn of business.
Tim, I hear ya man. But there’s a way to do things, and then there’s the other way. I help companies and SM professionals every day. Some of it I get paid for, and some of it I do because I feel compelled to.
And if these guys were more open (as in transparent) about their limitations with their employer, I would gladly help. (It’s a big part of what I do.) What I have a problem with is that they basically stole the job from people who ARE qualified, and I am not going to put myself in a position to help them once I realize that’s what they’ve done. If they want to admit their limitations to their bosses and hire me, we’re good to go. I’m just not going to become a part of their lie and reward them for it by helping them behind the veil. Know what I mean?
Just because cheating is a business reality doesn’t mean I want to contribute to it. 😉
Thanks for providing the first counterpoint today, Tim. You make very valid observations.
Olivier I tend to place more blame on the company for not doing due diligence before filling the position. Hey in this economy, I can’t blame a youngster for convincing him/herself that they can do the position, or ‘learn on the fly’ enough to handle it. It’s up to the company to look at what they are bringing to the table, and decide for themselves.
I run into this same thing as a consultant, I can craft a plan for a client that walks them through how we’ll use social media to help them grow business, but if a hack comes behind me and says ‘we’ll guarantee you 10,000 followers on Twitter within a month’, that might be EXACTLY what the company wants to hear, so they might hire the hack. Then later decide that all SM consultants are snakeoil salesmen.
Good starter checklist, if applicants can meet most of the requirements you mentioned, the company should probably feel confident in turning their SM efforts over to them.
Any ideas about how we can help educate companies better when it comes to identifying and selecting applicants for SM management positions?
Am I painting rainbows here or is there a way we can make it tougher for hacks to get these increasingly crucial positions?
Along with your great tips above, I’d add that such a hire ought to not merely have a “professional presence” on SN sites but be prolific as a networking to increase brand awareness, etc.
Yet, do you want to know how often I look up the profiles of so-called “social media speakers” and learn to my dismay they broadcast on Twitter 9x more than replying or retweeting; have sparse LinkedIn profiles; and when googling their names are hard to be found?
Excellent suggestions, Ari. Thanks. Mentally added.
You talk about all kinds of requirements for a candidate, but maybe the question was a nitty-gritty technical one? That’s a big difference from providing a way to calculate ROI.
Heck, the tools change daily. If this person asked how to create a shortened URL, I wouldn’t be too upset. If s/he asked how to calculate ROI for a particular set of efforts, at least s/he asked!! And in that case, I’m with Tim B — s/he asked someone who has demonstrated the ability, at least theoretically.
Without some insight into the type of question, I’m having a hard time getting upset by this.
Right. Good point, Carla. Nitty-gritty questions like “can you suggest a measurement tool for X?” or “should we use multiple accounts or a central one for our brand on Twitter?” are okay. These lead to discussions and I don’t have a problem with that.
However, the questions I am referring to are too basic and too strategic to be acceptable from these folks. We’re talking Social Media 101 here. Here are some examples:
How do I use Twitter to gain traction for my brand?
Aside from Twitter, should we be on Facebook or MySpace? Which one makes more sense?
How do I get (company X) into Hubspot/TwitterGrader’s top 100 (Elite) list?
How many tweets per day would be ideal to quickly build a following?
See what I mean? And my beef isn’t just with the questions but also the context in which they are asked. 😉
Hard not to leave with a bitter taste in my mouth after reading this. It’s easy to b.s. your way into this field. Get a website, twitter profile, facebook profile, and LinkedIN and you are pretty much golden.
That’s how limited the knowledge is about the field. Even big brands with big money don’t know what they have yet. Or what they are even supposed to be looking for. HR hasn’t even gotten the job description…(A .doc resume from a social director position?????)
I’ve been looped into both the first and second groups at various points within my career…I still always find more of the third group in positions of power though.
Should we have a central organization of Community Managers or SM Directors that can vet people on their authority? Might do something?
I saw an application for a Social Media Director a few months ago that listed (fill in the blanks) a minimum of 6 years experience as a Social Media Director. I wonder where they would find someone whose job description was actually “Social Media Director” back in 2005. Good luck with that, HR. Way to research the position’s requirements. 😀
You’re right though. This isn’t just a Social Media problem. Hacks are everywhere, and the Marketing world sure has its fair share of them. I’m not really sure that creating a Social Media Managers’ Association of some sort would work since the hacks would worm their way into it pretty quickly. Right now, I guess we can all vouch for one another (and it’s a good start,) but I don’t know if we can realistically create some sort of accreditation system that would actually work. It’s a great idea though… I would love to hear more ideas about how to make it happen in a way that makes sense.
Thanks, Stuart. 🙂
Thank you for saying publicly what so many of us have been thinking and saying privately. I know that I don’t know everything about social media and I willingly admit that to my clients. Most of them hire me because I will admit what I don’t know, but can also tell and more importantly, show them that I know how/where to find the answers. Good for you for standing up against the charlatans who have decided that social media is the buzzword of the day, so they are going to also offer those services when they have no clue what they are doing. Hopefully, you have started a trend that will spread throughout the truly knowledge “masters” of the industry.
Thanks, Gloria. Much appreciated. 🙂
I actually had to read this twice to make sure I wasn’t reading any typos anywhere.
So basically this SM Director is responsible for the social media success of the company that just hired him/her and this is their first question? WTF?
Looking at the response to you (re. “first time in business context”) then they’ve basically lied their way to a job. And, worse still, the stupid company didn’t do a background check? Even if they’re unware of most social media uses, the company could still find as much as the information they need via something as simple as Google.
Then they could have asked, “Hmm, we don’t see your blog anywhere. Or LinkedIn account with recommendations and references. And what’s this Twitter account all about, it’s just jokes and sandwich talk.”
Okay, slight exaggeration but you get the gist.
Meanwhile, social media and smart people take a hit because of BS douchebags like this. I’d have been tempted to name and shame, or at the least contact the company and question their hiring policies.
Cheers, Olivier, a warning to any business around.
It blows my mind too, Danny. And those are the ones who bother to ask. There are many more who don’t.
I’ve been tempted to name and shame as well, but I’m not to that point yet. I just feel bad for the companies that have put their trust and hopes in them… and also for infinitely more qualified and able people who didn’t get the job.
I really feel that something should be done, but I don’t know what.
Thanks for the comment, Danny. I always enjoy seeing you get riled up over a topic. 😀
Wow, I have so much to say that I think I’ll have to consider writing my own blog post in response! I think I can get away with leaving a few comments, however:
I liked this article quite a lot. I’m fresh out of school, looking to be hired, and have positioned myself in between the first and second categories as I apply for jobs every day. I also share the frustration of seeing that some very inept people have somehow managed to get jobs that are definitely going to be too much to handle very soon.
One thing I wish you’d have touched on, but maybe your experiences exceed this level, is how a team of social media people is actually quite important for a lot of corporations and larger businesses. When I look at my experience, and although I know I’m more qualified to be in a position that leads to a directorship than starting in one right off the bat, I think about the fact that this kind of experience is 1) harder to find than you make it out to be, and 2) a lot of companies employ only one person to implement a social media program, meaning that there is a bit of a catch-22 regarding your standards for experience. After having worked as an intern for a social media director whose skills are amazing, I realize that it’s a lot tougher for him to actually put his skills to use because of the limits of a corporate atmosphere. He can’t provide paid positions in social media, for instance, and as a result, the experience he is able to provide for an intern is significantly hindered; the intern ends up doing grunt work instead of really getting a handle on social media within the guidelines you are setting. Basically what I’m saying is, in many cases, that candidates for social media directorships very often are getting their experience as social media directors in the first place, and sometimes have to go through that first set of failure/inadequate qualifications just to meet the qualifications you have set forth as being required for a director.
Right, there are exceptions, and I’m sure that my limited experience in a smaller market gives me a more cynical response to your article. There are large markets in which plenty of people have gone through these qualifications and have appropriately positioned themselves as deserving applicants. However, realistically, companies don’t seem willing to build a good social media program. I’ve seen job descriptions asking for a social media director but giving them no staff to direct. So while I agree that a lot of companies are at fault for not knowing better and hiring a con artist, I also think that the realistic state of affairs in terms of social media departments and how serious companies are about serious social media programs, companies are often unwilling to provide the proper platform for success in the first place. That hurts the ability for a person to attain the proper qualifications for a social media director.
That said, I’m excited to be part of this wave of social media departments. I’m not sure how long this will be realistically a legitimate part of the business world — I can be a cynic at times — but I realize that those of us talking about it now are the ones building it, and we’re responsible for keeping it worthwhile and high-quality.
Wow. That definitely deserves its own blog post. 😀
Look, you’re the future of Social Media. Plain and simple. And I don’t mean ten years from now. I mean in the next 6-12 months.
And whether it’s still called Social media in two years or not, community/social marketing is here to stay. The way we communicate has changed too much for things to go back to the way they were ten or twenty years ago. So the skills you are acquiring today will still be relevant in the next few years.
I totally understand the conundrum you bring up. I used to run into it when I first started out: Even entry-level jobs required 1-3 years of experience, but you couldn’t get experience if you didn’t get the entry-level job to begin with. So you had to get into these jobs laterally, by doing something else first, and then working your way back into what you really wanted to do. This is very similar.
If you’ve already worked in, with or around Social Media as an intern, you’re already way ahead of the curve. You have practical experience doing some of this stuff, and you can pretty quickly scale that experience through trial and error – which is the best way to learn this stuff anyway. You’re obviously going places, so I am not going to worry about you. 😉
That said, yeah, SM programs are still the exception rather than the rule in the business world so I feel you pain there as well. But things are changing and I think you’ll start seeing an increase in demand for people with your skills in the next year. Keep your eyes and ears open, work on whatever SM-related projects you can, make connections with people in the industry that you trust and respect, and build your project portfolio.
Judging by your comment, you’re already squarely in the second category and will probably hop into the first category in no time. Five years from now, when you’re Global Social Media Director for Nike or GE, I’ll be able to look back on this post and say “ha. I knew her way back when.” 😉
Thanks for the comment and write that blog post. I want to read it.
I feel in the same way than Jennifer.
The only difference is that I’m 33 years old, I mean to old for being and intern.
The other promblem is that very few companies are talking seriously this issue here in Chile, so… I’m kind of “self made woman”.
Then… what should I do for having more experience about developeding and managing marketing programs, managing national market research projects, building and managing a business communities, managing a brand or product line, learning (doing) more about vertical and lateral action when it comes to customer/community engagement, learning (doing) more about demographic statistics, measure success and SM ROI.
Work on small projects if you can’t find big ones. Charities and not-for-profits are a good place to start. Write case studies / lessons-learned based on your experiences there. It won’t take many. 😉
Olivier – This list is great not only as a resource for companies looking to hire an SM director, but as Darren pointed out, it also serves as a great self-assessment tool for people who are interested in those types of positions. I went through the list and could certainly see some knowledge gaps and areas where I could stand to gain some experience.
John and Mack make great points – the organization can be easily duped if they’re hiring for a position in a space that they don’t even understand. We have to hope that the snake oil salesmen will eventually fall out of the mix, but unfortunately that’s going to take a while.
You know, I hadn’t even thought about it that way. I love the self-assessment angle. Nicely done, Amy. 🙂
What I don’t understand is most of what is on Olivier list are standard questions just instead of Marketing or HR or Financial Director its SocMed Director.
I get that we can’t all KNOW who is the right guy to hire but honestly (and barring my earlier agreeable comment above) I would fire the manager who hired a duffer like the guy you mentioned.
Look ALL managers don’t know more than 10-40% of what their juniors are doing, things change, computers show up, software changes etc. In fact bouncing back to the computers comment I just made, reminds me most of the guys at the top today spent half their career learning to do business without a computer.
So if managers don’t know half or less of what their employees do at any given time how do they hire, how do they fire, etc.
Like we all do, we act shrewdly and ask articulate questions, we read blog posts by thought leaders like Olivier on the topic. I prepared for my interviews, shouldn’t my HR/Hiring manager?
So I am hiring an accountant – I don’t know $hit about accounting (honest), so how do I do that if I go by the generous mulligan you guys are giving hiring managers I will screw up often, lose my company lots of money, etc. This is not going to happen I promise you, we may not NAIL the first guy, but we will be close for sure.
I think there is a flaw to this argument and credit is being extended where it isn’t due. Maybe I am harsh ba$tard but it wouldn’t be the first time I was accused of that either. When someone says they can do something, I don’t just follow over, my mind goes into pursuit mode and I dig (not over polite conversation of course). So you know about Social Media? What do you know? Who do you know? How long have you…? What was your companies problem? How did you solve it. These last two questions are clinchers and are common with any occupation. We ALL solve problems at work. Its what we do, no?
If I am wrong tell me. So that’s my bit on the topic. That being said I like the post, it helps fix the problem which is more than I can say for others.
Agreed. That someone with zero experience or insight into building and/or managing a social media program for a company gets hired is at least 50% the hiring manager’s fault. What’s worse than an unethical applicant? An incompetent hiring manager who can’t see through the applicant’s BS.
Tough bastards are welcome here any day. 😉
Olivier, you’re incredible. Great post. Someone should have paid you $1,000s to write that description.
I agree with you—why the “big boys” aren’t fighting over Sonny is a huge mystery.
Thanks for sharing such good stuff—for free!
Thanks, Trey. I’m thinking more like $10K. ;D
Maybe we need to launch a “Hire Sonny” campaign. I’m in.
Olivier – I’m not sure if this will make you more angry, or be more evidence of the truth in which you speak. I am by no means in the social media elite category you mentioned above, but I do get DM’s from people I’ve connected with on Twitter who are “new media managers” or “social media managers” about how to do things as simple as setting up a Facebook group page. Forget about the strategy, on a certain level some of these people don’t even understand the tactics.
Thanks for the post. Always enjoy reading your material.
Chuck, you just made me growl at my screen. 😀
Those are probably the exact same people I have been dealing with. Totally unacceptable, man. Doesn’t it make your blood boil when you get questions like those from people who clearly should be well beyond asking them?
PS: If you’re getting those questions, you’re more of an expert than they are. Don’t sell yourself short, brother. 😉
Well I appreciate the compliment, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert on anything in this space. It’s moving too quickly and to a large degree we’re all really trying to figure out where this space is going.
It does make my blood boil to a certain degree, but I feel worse for people like Sonny. He gets the space. He should have that role.
I lucked out in finding your blog from a twitter post by @PRtini and I have to say I look forward to reading through your archives after this post. As a newly graduated student in the PR field I have come to realize that there are many managers above me that don’t have the slightest iota of what social media really consists of.
With that said I will happily and quickly say that I am no expert either. It’s a learning curve that continues throughout the growing process of social media. However, I will say that I believe students graduating from universities that are teaching social media in the class rooms have a much larger advantage than SM managers who have yet to create a twitter or Facebook account.
I want to thank you for your great suggestions on what managers should be looking for when searching for a social media director. Although I am not in a position to hire anyone, hell I need a job, I think it serves as a great list of potential resume highlights. There are items on the list I know that I can achieve within the next year while I work on building my resume. These will be success stories I can point out to a potential employer letting them know my full and real qualifications rather than BS handed out by other SM “pros.” And more importantly I know I will be classified as the first type of SM manager rather than the third.
Thanks for the great advice. I look forward to catching up with your blog.
Just by writing this comment, you’re already in the second category and on your way to making your way into the first. 😀
Well played, Elisha.
This is for Eilsha…
If you really want to find a job in Social Media do the following:
1. Buy the best “How to” books on Social Media, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Ning you can find.
2. Cut the bindings off and scan them into your laptop (much easier to transport)
3. Research English teaching jobs in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, China and/or Malaysia.
4. Pick one and move to that country – you can survive quite nicely teaching English (especially if you specialize in business English with a SM slant – here’s where the reference material listed in #1 will come in handy)
5. While you are working and learning about the country’s economy, people, language & culture you will also learn what works and doesn’t in the local SM realm… thereby becoming an expert on that portion of the Asian market – and this is key.
Asia has the population, desire & money now… they have been doing the social networking thing for centuries and really only need training on the new tools & language to accomplish their goals.
Remember the American market is relatively small & ethnocentric compare to the diverse opportunities Asia represents.
Are you up for an adventure that will change your life?
If you are I will guarantee you will be a desirable commodity in a few years!!
I second John Heaney’s point above about educating hiring managers. I don’t bullshit and that has not been helpful in my job search.
With regard to ROI, I have a different theory. I would put people who promise the moon and stars into your third category as well. Those people are out there. Of course a solid social media strategy has a realized ROI, but is it a gazillion dollars? Is it doubling sales in Q1? Maybe, but probably not.
Thanks for your thoughts.
Good point on the Brooklin Bridge salesmen. You’re 100% right about that.
Keep plugging away, Will. Your honesty and integrity WILL resonate with the right company. I promise you. The folks I talk to on a daily basis are a no-bullshit crowd. You would fit right in. (And you will.) 😉
Can I also just say that I would love to be hired as a social media director and it gives me no pleasure to read the follies of those who have those jobs. Arrrrrgggghhh.
Excellent stuff, Olivier! Hospitality seems to have recently taken a big whiff of the social media world – I’m seeing SM Directors, Managers, and teams popping up everywhere; especially at conferences. Most of their presentations should be titled “Why I think I’m Good at Doing Technology” rather than whatever contrived mess they managed to throw together, managing to tack on the “2.0” or (even worse) “3.0” suffix at the last minute.
I find that most of the “group 3” folks are Marketing/Sales people with a series of accomplishments and renown for wanting to try new things. Once they get the new business cards, they come running to the industry for guidance, support, and a nice Powerpoint to explain their roadmap.
Mayhap this brilliant description will make its way to the HR groups who put together the job descriptions; it would go a long way to getting this area of the world into the “right people, right talents, right position” column.
Keep it up!
Joe, you crack me up with the whole “Why I think I’m Good at Doing Technology” thing. Brilliant. I can totally see it too. 😀
Olivier, fascinating post. I commend you for not aiding and abetting in this guy’s deceit. In fact, it prompted me to look up the definition of Sociopath, and which seems to apply here:
Someone whose social behavior is extremely abnormal. Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others. (http://bit.ly/RrIH7) I’ve worked with people like this. We all have.
If you have to fake your way into a job — any job– then it’s not going to go well for you or the company that hired you. I agree with you & others here that 50% of that responsibility is with the hiring co.’s. There’s no shortcut for doing your homework. The lengthy checklist you offered is a huge & generous assistance. I wonder if the hiring managers even grasp some of the requirements you’ve laid out. Have you considered offering workshops on this? Or adding to your services the role of screening Social Media Director candidates?
p.s. I’m willing to bet that Sonny Gill won’t be on the job hunt long after today’s post.
Oh snap! I just laughed outloud. I hadn’t even thought of that. Maybe I should rename the post “is your Social Media Director a Sociopath?”
Awesome. I would hug you right now if I could. 😀
Just occurred to me how far off path marketing and public relations professionals must have veered over the past 10 years. There really should not even be a need for something called a Social Media Director. The requisite discipline, insight, skill set, training, proficiency, etc. should have already been present within the marketing and PR pros already around.
What is so different about social media that gave rise to a new breed of professionals, by-passing the existing talent? [I have a hunch of an answer. Could have something to do with a command-and-control mentality vs. a direct connection worldview or something. If that’s the case, it’s not so much that companies need people with new titles and skill sets—they just need people who see the world differently, people who see the people.]
Amen. Seriously, Trey. Amen. You are absolutely correct.
I feel your pain. What you’ve started is brilliant. Next step in evolution? Think in 15 minute increments. Let’s build a product offering. Screening Process for Strategic SM Hires. You and the tribe can build the offering; you’re almost there now. Package pricing? Royalties to contributors? A quick brainstorm will have the right pricing model conjured up. Sonny can manage the offering (think of the exposure, Sonny). #1 Build a Quick and Dirty Matrix, the checklist HR screeners have to put all applicants thru (you can build this in a way that is HR proof, thereby protecting your nads from John’s foot). If the prospect passes ‘go’, Sonny (or any member of the tribe) takes the next screening phase, #2 15 minutes of research on the prospect’s PROOF OF LIFE in the SM world. Still in the running? #3 15 minute phone screen with member of your SM tribe, let’s call it the POSER SCREEN. Tribe approves? Deliverable back to corporate HR should include prospect put into 1 of 5 categories: “CAPABLE AND CREATIVE”, “SEASONED AND SMART” — you are better equipped to develop this part of product offering, but being descriptive with what the company can realistically expect from the prospect helps turn your service into a tangible product. You already know WOM will work to get it around. Take it to the HR blogs and Associations. By hiring posers, they contribute to their own diminishing value. In the meantime, you’ve strengthened the quality of SM one hundred fold, throughout corporate america. Hell, I’ll sew your cape. Let me know if you want any more scribbles on this bar napkin.
Julie, you had me at “protecting the nads from John’s foot.” 😀
As an aside, WOW. Your brain is like a V12 engine splurging on jet fuel. I’m seriously impressed.
You are too kind, Olivier. I’m just inspired by your passion. The bar napkin offer stands; if you decide to create a solution. 😉
Olivier, this is a great list, though I’m saddened to see that the problem is as widespread as it appears to be. I’ve actually been in a position where the PR firm my company retains asked *me* — their client — to give them a one-hour talk on social media and Twitter! (Don’t get me started on why they are still on retainer with us. Long story.) So, it’s not just that the big corporations are clueless about hiring social media directors. Any PR agency worth its retainer should either be in the know about how social media is disrupting the traditional way they do their jobs, or should be hiring some folks who do know.
As a job seeker, a large part of me bristled at this purely because someone who doesn’t know their way around basic social-media-for-business concepts is in a director position and I’m sitting here applying for assistant positions because I’m completely aware of my knowledge gaps. How much self inflation did this person have to do to convince themselves and their employer they were equipped for this position? This sounds like a classic oversell-underdeliver situation. The company who hired this person deserves what they get.
Ok, maybe I’m being mean.
What struck me in your post was your worry about the affects this type of hiring behavior in companies will ultimately have on the reputation of social media in business. Sadly, I think you top-notch consultants will be adding “firefighter” to that cap you wear on the job, because you’ll have put out quite a few fires by the time this is over.
Like Swedishfish said (love the name, lol), I think the crux of the issue is that there’s no baseline position or established group structure that people can enter into to acquire the knowledge they need to step up to that Director role. And companies that don’t get the importance of developing a team will continue to hire un(der)-qualified people.
Maybe that’s something for further consideration. How can the real social media thought leaders best highlight the importance of creating a comprehensive social media program instead of just hiring the “right person” for the job? I know a lot of you have talked about it, but it just seems as if the magic ingredient to make the “social media team” idea stick is still missing. Obviously, there are lots of variables that factor into a company’s hesitance to create a social media team, but there’s got to be that supreme hook somewhere that makes the game callers go, “Ah ha! I get why we need a team now.”
I can’t say that y’all aren’t already talking about this because I’ve seen multiple posts about team development, but, from my viewpoint it just seems like there’s something that isn’t clicking.
Until things start to even out, people stepping into a Social Media Director role need to understand how important it is to be transparent with their talents and shortcomings, and they need to ask for help in the right places and facilitate healthy relationships with the right vendors and consultants to make up for those shortcomings until it all makes more sense to them.
Your list of requirements is a great place to start for self-assessment, like Amy said, and I think it’d do all SM Directors a world of good to take a peek at it. More than a peek.
This comment got way too long. My apologies! Love this post, Olivier.
Teresa, apologizing to me for writing long comments is like apologizing to a sushi chef for eating too much fish. Your loquaciousness rocks. No worries.
(And you wrote “y’all.” You’re in the club now.)
And you’re right: The social media team concept is definitely due for a serious conversation.
Thanks Olivier for another great post. I always learn something new when I visit your blog or converse with you on Twitter.
As someone who has diverse experience in the business world, yet is still new to Social Media, I find it as no surprise that there are these charlatans out there. These types of people can be found all throughout the business world, especially in the technical arena where I started my career and have most of my experience. I think the younger and more wide open the field, the more susceptible it is to people like this and there is probably no more wide open and younger field than Social Media.
Myself, I hope to utilize your “checklist” to help guide my training and career path so I can be in the 1st group some day. Of course, that’s providing I really end up wanting such a position once I’m really qualified….:)
Sweet! I’m pretty excited that you and several others have already turned the list into a personal checklist. You guys are brilliant. Way to think on your feet. 🙂
Many of these problems will resolve themselves as the younger generations move up in marketing and PR. They have a much better grasp on this medium. MOST people in our generation just pick at being “social” in the virtual world. Younger people LIVE in this realm 24/7 and there is very little difference between cyberspace and fleshspace to them.
That doesn’t help with the problem of companies hiring SM professionals NOW though. Maybe it should be a rule that you can only hire people for these positions on “bring your kid to work day.” A recruiters 16 year old will be able to sniff out a BS artist like you’re talking about as soon as he tries to start a conversation with this person that includes the term memes. 😀
I don’t think I’ve ever read a blog post by anyone two times and then read ALL Of the comments and I’ve been blogging/reading them since 2000, so kudos to you.
As I sat here cringing about whether I am in category 1 or 2 (or in between), there was one part of your “if your Social Media Director says…” that bothered me.
That was the “social media takes time monologue” part.
Maybe because I say that…a lot. Maybe because I am a super long-term relationship builder (I wrote a blog post once about how it took 7 years of cultivation before a reporter (now friend) wrote about me in the NY Times…and I was fine with that.)
So, it hit me where I live and I couldn’t place my finger on it.
Until, I was re-reading your job description and a number of them had “1 year” as the requirement, which indicates that sustained, prolonged presence, activity, and engagement is a relevant measure for brand building (be it personal or corporate).
It does take time…that’s not excuse for lack of measurement or knowledge or executing the fundamentals you described, but the expectation that social media is like waving a magic wand that overnight will “make us go viral,” is just not accurate.
You’ve also inspired to go back and re-read your series and the focus, in particular, on Breadth.
That being said, I am nitpicking on the .01% of this post that troubled me and not focusing enough on just how freakin’ fantastic it was. And it was.
I told you once that I wanted to buy you a beer. I’m raising it to lunch! Offer valid until MSFT goes out of business.
Ever in the DC/Balto area?
Jeremy, don’t sweat the “social media takes time” thing. That was by far the weakest of my examples since… well, developing relationships does take time. So don’t feel weird about saying that to your bosses or clients. But give them SOMETHING. As long as you figure out how to separate short term goals/impact from long term goals/impact, you’re good. (And make sure they understand the difference too. That’s key if you want everyone to be happy). ;D
Next time I’m in the DC/Baltimore area, I will definitely let you know.
Thanks a bunch for the comment, brother.
Yes, but what about those of us who are the Social Media Director for the “firm” simply because we are the “firm”? I’m not looking for free hand-holding, but can you tell me the three best websites and the three best books that can answer all my questions?
Levi, I can’t narrow it down t 3 books or even 3 websites. I would definitely start by reading several blogs: Chris Brogan, Valeria Maltoni, Amber Naslund, Mack Collier, Beth Harte, Jeremiah Owyang and Sonny Gill come to mind. There are many other really solid ones, but these folks tend to focus most of their posts on Social Media so you’ll get a pretty serious doseof good advice and insight from their collective musings.
I would also start spending time on Twitter so you can engage with them (and scores of others). We’re all pretty open and generous with our knowledge, so you’ll learn a lot of great stuff on a regular basis.
Also, don’t think of any of this as looking for answers, but rather learning how to keep asking the right questions. 😉
Thank you for the response. I will certainly add some of these blogs to my reader. However, I need to balance my need to build a web presence with my need to spend my time actually writing.
As for being active on Twitter, I firmly believe that Twitter has tripled my blog traffic. I run UberTwitter on my BlackBerry, so unless I’m asleep, I’m on Twitter.
Again, thank you.
Basically, candidates need to know what they are talking about, know the space well, understand and embrace their role as a capability builder, know how to play nice with others, have experience doing all of the above and drive profits.
It looks more like companies need to go through an RFI/RFP process when vetting candidates than they do the traditional interview, especially if the interviewer isn’t qualified to make this judgment.
Which really begs the question: where are the qualified recruiters? Shouldn’t this be a booming field right now?
8:55 “i feel dirty”
I feel your pain. You have been ask to be a social media whore. just say no!
don’t let your charitable nature be taken advantage of, oliver. you don’t deserve that.
like the video. thanks for posting.
Hey there Oliver – Loved your video and your talk. Would love to get you involved in our shows – check out the up and comers – http://www.digidayApps.com and http://www.digidaySocial.com. Be in touch!
Interesting article. Social Media is the next cool thing, and by that alone, people will want to be involved. Companies would rather turn to internal resources (especially since there are hiring freezes in place – impossible to create a req). So any internal person that shows enthusiasm and can talk basically about social media (like answering “what is this about?”) will get the job.
So this may be fine for tactical purposes – but it’s crippling from a strategic point of view.
Excellent point, Tony.
The focus here is directly on the incompetent manager. I agree on all accounts, but I would also like to say that the businesses that are hiring these people also have no clue what they are looking for. It’s the blind leading the blind. Companies are hiring social media professionals because they think it’s a silver bullet to pull them from the ashes…it’s not! They fail to tell stories of truth, they fail to get involved in the culture, they fail, they fail, they fail!
All of this being said, we are experiencing growth pains as an industry. Things are beginning to flesh out…hopefully. However, I seriously think that the companies are more at fault than the guys/gals lying on their applications and misappropriating their skill sets.
Yep. Well said, Keith. It’s one thing to get suckered by a slick applicant, but once they’re in the position and getting zero results, what the hell? Is the hiring manager now afraid that if they remove the deadbeat SM Director, they will look bad to their own bosses for having hired a flake?
First of all, I have already subscribed to your feed. The article is something that I can truly relate to. I am in the advertising industry and into digital media, and a student of social media. I was struck with your point on people bullshitting their way into getting into a position where they are truly not qualified to do or in my experience, some people who actually claim or say that Social media is something easy to learn and be an expert on just because they handled a project or listened to a talk once in their life.
I get really irritated with such people. I truly believe that one must first learn, experience, immerse themselves in the practice before they can make such claims. In our department, we are trained and given much hands on work so that we learn and can truly give our clients the advise that they need to get ROI on their investments. But since the emergence of the new media, the people i am referring to have become threatened and are scheming their way into letting clients or colleagues believe that they are so called experts.
It saddens me that there are a lot of them who just because they see Twitter or Facebook, Blogging or other SNS are the “trends” now, they get into it without even learning or exerting any efforts to truly understand the medium, the metrics and the relevance to clients, brands and consumer interactions. Thank you for the list of qualifications above. Will share it with my accounts team as well as people i know will benefit from your advise. Great post Olivier. I am a fan.
Great comment, Misty. I’m glad it makes you angry too. 😀
Thank you for this post, Olivier. Here is what frustrates me.
I have done social media both in-house, as a consultant, and for my business (not sure where you would place me, hopefully somewhere between #1 and #2 above). I also teach a class on how to market a business with social media at UC San Diego, so I am fairly visible in the social media scene here in San Diego.
I have agencies and other consultants come to me all the time asking me to “teach them” social media so they can help their clients. They smell gold and they want in. Their clients are willing to pay them because they know more than their client does (albeit not much more). Now, the person from the agency has big clients on their list and looks like a very savvy SM person. The next social media director job comes along, they look good on paper, maybe they can even talk the talk, and they get hired.
Then they DM you (or me) asking for help.
I believe this gives a tarnished image to social media practitioners as a whole (like Mack said, they all start to look like snake oil salesmen).
I prefer the way my students answered my question last night about why they are taking a class on social media. Most of them know something about social media because they are personally using Facebook, Twitter, or another social media tool. They don’t yet understand how to put tools together into a measurable, long-term social media strategy and action plan, and they admit it. These students (who come from small businesses, corporations, as well as consulting practices) will be well positioned to go out into the business world and start asking intelligent questions about social media when their management tells them “Quick, get us on Facebook” or the organization wants to hire a social media director.
I can only hope more people can be educated by smart folks like you, Mack, Beth, Amber, Valeria, Sonny, and numerous other people so they won’t keep getting the wool pulled over their eyes.
Thanks again, Olivier, for saying what needed to be said. You rock!
Wow Becky! First, thank you for putting me in the same category as Valeria, Sonny, Mack, etc. 🙂
Second, since you’ve used SM from three different perspectives, you’re already WAY ahead of the curve compared to folks who have only used it for personal needs or from an agency/campaign angle. From where I stand, SM practitioners who started out as community managers have a HUGE edge on those who started out as content producers. Along the same lines, in-house SM practitioners seem to have a much deeper practical understanding of how to build SM practices than folks who operated in the space while working for digital media shops and agencies.
The beauty of this space is that there ARE people out there who, collectively, can help companies build internal practices – which makes more sense than having companies look for superhero Social Media Directors to come in and build programs from scratch. I really want to see more of your students take on SM-related positions with companies and then call upon folks like Mack, Chris, Valeria, Amber, etc. to help them fill the gaps and guide them as needed.
Great comment, Becky.
Becky- I agree. My great fear is that these fakes are going to do so much damage to the field of social media that we lack credibility to the executives considering a program. If they can look around and see that X company tried twitter and it failed… how would you argue that they just hired the wrong person?
I am so glad you are educating the next generation of Community Practitioners so they can begin learning now… please also educate them on how to spot the “talking heads” and avoid that trap.
Great post Oliver… I have had this conversation about a million times with others in the field and we are all behind your comments. Thanks for taking the time to propose such a detailed solution!
A quick litmus test can be applied to weed out the “social media practioners” that are surrounding us. The test is tell me/show me where and how you practiced social media – what company, when?
Next I like a situational question that someone should be able to answer showing true value of social media – relationships and how it ties to your business objectives.
Unfortunately, that first one is easy to overcome for anyone who has worked with an agency dealing with ANYTHING digital. I watched agency peeps do the same thing with WOM a few years ago: Put a few ads on YouTube, get a few thousand views, and suddenly you’re a WOM expert. Now if they can imply that they touched their clients’ blog or Facebook page, they’re SM experts too. It takes a pretty savvy hiring manager to be able to cut through the smoke and mirrors. 😉
Situational questions are good too, but again, the interviewer has to understand what he’s asking and what a good answer should be.
Great comment though.
wait…did you say blackberry storm?
it’s unfortunate to see “directors” asking for help, but at the same time i’m not that surprised, companies may be getting desperate, especially if they are being trashed online…which we briefly talked about; leads to new customer engagement models (i just put up a post on this).
i know plenty of qualified people out there who deserve to have these director level roles…have you received a response from this person as a result of posting this? (surely he’s/she’s seen it)
Yeah, I’ve received a few DMs from several of these folks. And from a few who thought they might be. 😀
Bless you for this masterpiece! Decades ago I remember interviewing people for loan officer positions in my mortgage company; many of the apps were bus drivers, dog catchers, people with no experience or business applying.
It’s shocking to see the number of self described social media “experts”, “gurus”, “influentials” who are not nationally recognized, regionally recognized, or locally recognized.
Even in Silicon Valley with the technical experience, brain power, and connectivity to everything Internet I see at least 10-15 “experts” toss their shingle out.
The worst fact of all is the fact that these people justify their new found “guru-ship” on their past resume or education that has absolutely NOTHING to do with social media or your list.
Thank for the template. I will make sure I can speak to all of your points.
Sweet! Thanks for the comment. 🙂
This is for Julie Chun as well as Oliver: Before we build an SM director screening product and put a price on it, I think there’s something we can do to help each other make sense of each other first. We have mentions on Twitter – well, I think it’s about time we specifically call out endorsements or maybe reviews. Like this: “$thebrandbuilder: The guy wrote the #socialmedia industry standard job description for Social Media Director. http://is.gd/1orHM Nuff said.”
Twitter is about the newest stuff, I get that and that’s great. But recency is not Twitter’s core strength. Twitter’s core strength is us. If we have a way to review people on Twitter, we also give Twitter a better basis for TwitterRank than just tweets and followers. The most prolific should not be the most popular, and being popular ain’t everything. Right? Seriously. Experts are often neither popular nor prolific in public. Think Karl Rove.
If there is a group capable of choosing to add to Twitter’s cultural architecture in this way, I think this is it. What do you guys think?
Excellent suggestion, Steve. And good point about Twitter’s strength not being recency. (Wait… Are you calling Karl Rove an expert? Um, never mind.) 😀
The one fear I would have with the “wisdom of crowds” here would be this: Any celebrity with a following can get his/her fans to endorse them and tell the world they’re the greatest and smartest thing. Think of all the MLM creeps on Twitter who have formed a ginormous circle-jerk of accolades and mutual follows. Scary, right? Or how about someone like Ashton? How do we keep this from turning into an extension of the current Social Media popularity contest? 😉
Hey, great post, very well written. You should blog more about this. I’ll definitely be subscribing.
Actually, Olivier, you should try to insert the word “sociopath” into your next 30 responses to people pinging you with elementary Social Media questions, implying that this phrase is the new short hand for the channel (socio-path, geddit?). The frauds will instantly adopt this phrase creating, for the rest of us, an enduring “tell.”
😀 I love it. 😀
Great topic – even better threads. This is a great example of social media in action. (Seriously, I’m going to hunt down and follow many of you on Twitter…those juicy brains must be picked clean!) I have one more suggestion for your checklist: guts. Being a really good social media expert takes guts because you’re basically putting your professional beliefs on the world’s chopping block every day for everyone to see (and rip apart if desired). That takes a lot of courage and plenty of smarts – while it’s easy to spout nonsense in a boardroom, it’s a whole new ballgame when you’re broadcasting your thoughts to the world via a blog etc.
Great observartion. That is very true. Anyone can talk the talk, right? But walking the walk is a very different animal. Not just from a “knowing how” side, but also from the courage angle. Great comment.
What’s the difference between a campaign and a program, in your mind?
“Applicant has developed and managed marketing programs before. Not just campaigns but programs.”
In my world, when people talk about campaigns, they’re talking about long term efforts that include multiple channels; a combination of social media, traditional, etc., all working in support of one goal.
When talking about programs, they’re talking about iPhone apps or software.
Great question. Campaigns have a beginning and an end. Programs don’t.
A marketing, advertising or PR campaign will typically focus on a finite timeframe. It could be a weekend promo or a year-long effort. So “long term” becomes a relative phrase. A program is something that will stay with the company for a long time and probably evolve.
Oh my. Great conversation. I work at a university in California as the graphic designer. Somebody learned about social media about 18 months ago. Gradually, we’ve arrived to a place where I’ve had to say WHOAAAAA… I originally suggested giving some campus groups Facebook Pages which would allow them some autonomy because we are a small staff and the web designer is overburdened. Folks wanted to be able to add content themselves. The use of Contribute has fallen flat on it’s face, so I suggested facebook. Before I know it, my task has become defining to a group of VPs what we can do NOW to have a presence in social networking. I’ve been asked by people who can’t find the google search box in their browser window how to use Twitter. (I can find the search box just fine, but I’m admittedly a novice when it comes to Twitter). The fact that I’ve heard of it and watched some videos about it has earned me the responsibility of ‘putting something together real quick about how we can use ‘all of that social stuff’ that we can plug into the ‘real’ marketing plan that is built of newspaper ads and direct mail postcards.
When told that everybody on campus (faculty/staff) who wants one will have their choice of twitter account, facebook, blog or ning…and that chosen administrators will decide who has access… you can see where this is going…
Aligned with a fellow computer geek, we said look. We can make facebook badges and twitter accounts it will only be to pacify you. Bottom line is this is BIG and needs a strong under-structure with a long-term strategy that I am not qualified to put together. And frankly, I don’t even know if I know what I’m talking about in THAT statement. I just know that it’s bigger than me.
NOW, I’ve been asked to find someone that we could hire for this. Oh Dear God, someone please help me. Olivier- I doubt we could afford you. Thoughts?
Jen, that comment rocks, and we should talk.
I am a principal at Mighty Mouth Media (a social media consultancy) and as someone who has worked for a few years with higher education institutions I think I can understand the situation you have found yourself in at your university.
If you are interested in talking with me about the road ahead of you, I would be happy to set up a call. You can email me directly by clicking this link – http://scr.im/roger or find me on twitter @roger.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Mighty Mouth Media
WOW! Great blog post! I am glad I found you!
I ❤ you for posts like this. If we were in third grade, I'd totally pass you notes in class and draw your name in a heart.
<- totally not kidding, even though I'm being lighthearted about how much I love this post
Hello, I just came across this post.
This is an excellent self check list. Hopefully it will stop those pesky prerequisite leaks. I’m my own worst critic, something that comes from being a Virgo, I believe… anyway I’m always on the look out for these credential check offs.
The only thing I would suggest is that the potential applicant needs to have a substantial presence offline. By that, I don’t mean he or she is at every Tweetup or conference simply handing out business cards.
They are out there taking an active interest in what other people are doing, learning from them, and sharing experiences.
I cut my teeth in the trenches of customer service, and this has played a significant role as I’ve built my social media experience.
Well if any Director of Recruiting, Director of HR, Director of Marketing wanted to know what a job description looks like you just gave it to them! I think I am a Type 2…..
So glad you really like the Type 2’s more people should invest time in these folks because they got it just maybe not the portfolio or been given the the chance to shine. The Type 2’s are doing it personally and maybe helping others do it and just need to be given the chance, because what do have to loose, right? I would take the bet that the Type 2’s will blow it up for you, but if you go with the Type 3’s you have a reverse ROI….buyouts, no return on their actions, damage control publicly.
I really enjoyed reading your post plus all the great comments people provided. Reading through you have a lot of Type 3’s on here!
Maybe you should make a twitter list called Type 1 Type 2 Type 3…..
😀 I’ll leave that determination to recruiters. But yeah, Type 2 are the future of the space. We need more of them, and less of Type 3.
This is a little snarky, and I’m not sure what you mean by “managed a national market research study.”
But the points have to be made, and you make them well.
I think this is becoming more strategic business consulting and less marketing management.
I have five clients now and in each case a whole phase emerges first: what business are we in? why should our customers care? how do we create value and avoid being commoditized or disrupted by new technologies? Social media–transparency and authenticity, and the lure of direct communications with real customers–force companies to think about who they are and what they sell.
So I think social media should just be called “social networks,” and considered in the scope of all communications–especially internal. How do we know we are who we say we are?
In this new world “brand” fades and the design of what we sell moves forward. How can we best communicate with our customers so that they get the most value from what we design?
I know there is a need for evangelists of social media in organizations, but that’s an internal communications program that needs to be integrated into this larger internal conversation about who we are, what we design and how we treat our customers.
I have a couple of friends in this social media or e-business role in large corporations and even though they are very talented and great at what they do, they can’t get traction in isolation. CMOs grew up wanting to make television commercials, not talk about how SEO and social networks are symbiotic.
My clients are small and midsized businesses because those are the ones that can actually change.
I once was an executive in the digital division of one of the largest newspaper companies in the US, Knight Ridder. They were sold for $1 billion two years ago to a company now worth $300 million. So maybe some of the large corporations just won’t make it. They’ll get overtaken.
Kodak thought they were in the film emulsion business when they were actually in the visual memories business. If they had thought that way we might all be walking around with Kodak flip video cameras today.
So shift happens, and I do think major corporations are missing the much larger opportunity to think and then shift their entire business models, rather than hire “directors of social media.”
This was a great post, and I enjoyed your presentation at the Chicago GasPedal conference last month a lot.
Great comment. I appreciate it. You make some excellent points.
This is very well written. You make me want to believe in social media again! 😀
I really enjoyed this video, you’re a very intelligent guy! I’m shocked that so many employees have been DMing admitting they didn’t know what they were doing to you. You’re right, these people need to talk to their bosses about this issue and do the work themselves!
I am an individual with a year of professional social networking experience, but not a whole lot of marketing experience. (I graduated with my marketing degree in 2009 and currently have 1-2 years marketing experience.) How do I show an HR rep that I am the person for the job over someone who has 9 years of marketing experience but no social networking experience? I truly think my experience with Facebook, Twitter, blogging, video editing and posting, exceeds many of the individuals who are currently in these positions. Do you have any suggestions for getting my foot in the door?
Keep doing what you’re doing. Read blogs, test, test again and test some more until you find what works. Ask the marketing managers, customer service managers and sales managers if you can sit in on their meetings, and try to figure out what their pain points are. If you can help solve them with some Social Media activity, they’ll want to collaborate with you. That’s how you start learning how to make it work: By testing little ideas that solve specific problems for departments in the company. It’s also the fastest way to start demonstrating results, and because it has a specific business focus, you give credence to Social media. 😉
I have recently been approached about by a SMD about joining their group with the company I am currently employed. I feel that I am in the “group 2” of social media knowledge. I certainly don’t want to take a role that I am not 100% ready for. Are there specific books you feel I should download to help me learn more? You’re blog seems like a great place to start too. I see there is an Olivier Blanchard with books on Macroeconomics on amazon. I assume that is you. Any books on SM that I can buy? Thanks so much!
The other Olivier Blanchard is head economist at the IMF. We aren’t the same guy. 😀 (His books are good though.)
My book won’t be out until January, so between now and then, I suggest that you research the following people’s blogs (Google them):
Currently, there are no books on the market that will teach you a whole lot about the job you will be asked to do, unfortunately. These blogs are much more informative and valuable.
And don’t feel bad about being in the 2nd category. It’s the best one to be in. Learn everything you can about the new employer, what their objectives and pain points are, and start solving problems for them with SM. Partner with PR, Marketing, Sales, etc. Do that and you’ll start seeing wins fast. 😉
I’m a little late to this party but wanted to thank you Oliver for such a well written and accurate article!
Welcome. 🙂 Thank YOU.
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