Today, Jeremiah Owyang at the Altimeter Group released a research paper, Career Path of the Corporate Social Media Strategist. I, along with many colleagues in social media marketing, were interviewed to offer a snapshot of the social media strategist in major B2C and B2B enterprise. The report offers great insight from a certain vantage point within business - namely the guy or gal holding the social media title or responsibility. It's interesting as I had participated in a much higher-level forum hosted by Jon Iwata at IBM for C-Suite executives two weeks ago on social business and its impact on the enterprise. That was a closed door session and I will only reveal that many senior executives take social media very seriously even if they do not have a complete vision as to how it will impact their business.
3 Key Parts of the "Corporate Social Media Strategist"
Help Desk vs. Scalable Social Business Programs: Jeremiah contends that the Corporate Social Media Strategist has a decision point where s/he can either fall underwater with a growing set of tactical requests they cannot hope to fulfill within the organization or they can reach "escape velocity" where they start to lead some significant change. I am not surprised to hear this. I would argue that more and more of their bosses are coming to the conclusion that they must double-down on their social commitment and make more senior, disciplined hires to really reap the benefit of social media. Some of their first hires may be swimming in a pool of too many requests and may just not have the business experience to work 'soft power' within the organization to overcome it.
The report outlines the skills needed at various stages in the development of social media within the organization. It may be that the evangelism that is helpful at the "Awakening" phase does not serve the strategist needed at the maturing phases. There the business really needs a disciplined business person who can align social media enthusiasm with business reality.
The Hub and Spoke Model Dominates: There is a great summary of the organizational models for different groups. We, ourselves, see a consistent phenomena - the "center for excellence." This is almost always a matrix federation from different departments brought together by their common interest in social media. "Center for excellence" is essentially a hub and spoke solution. Since adoption of social media requires so much education and interdisciplinary collaboration to really work, the "hub" model is a workable short term model (3-5 years?).
Hiring Standards Are Sound Benchmarks for Success: If you want to set up your organization for "scalable social media programs," the report offers 10 useful guidelines for hiring the right person. No major enterprise needs the social media "evangelist" in my humble opinion. That ship has sailed. They need someone who can navigate the matrix, make advances and inroads through "soft power," integrate social media with traditional business functions and more. This is the last section in the report and offers a great checklist for business leaders.
The report is very useful. It gives us all a mid-level view of the state of enterprise social media not just the job of the corporate social media strategist. The C-suite may have a different view. A growing number of business leaders know that social media will affect their business in big ways and are actively searching for ways and people who can up their game and go beyond social media experimentalism.