Social Media Director: a five legged sheep?

I was interviewed by my friend Noam Kostucki about the viability and profile of someone who can help bring social mediainto an organization.  The answer obviously depends on the remit and the organization itself, but it brought out some interesting points.  What profile?  What roles & responsibilities?  I thought I might pursue the conversation with a more deliberate post.

Social media is only a tool

social media tree, the Myndset Digital Marketing & Brand Strategy

Social media is a tool — albeit a powerful and transformative one — that is part of an array of digital options to complement ongoing business. The issue with social media by itself is that the position cannot possibly warrant a high level executive., especially if it were related to the social media marketing. Moreover, there is internal and external social media, which are two immensely different yet complementary considerations.

Social media can affect everything

Social media has an uncanny ability to find a use in pretty much any industry, any function, any role, any project. The challenge is ensuring the right cultural fit and aligning with the business priorities and resources.  It also means finding the right combination of people, processes and systems to make it work.  Social media — and digital media more broadly — reaches into many areas, not limited to marketing, corporate communications, sales, IT, HR, R&D and more….

Focus on digital media rather than just social media

If there is to be a specific position that can effectively bring the new digital tools (not just social media) across a company, the person and his/her role and objectives must be aligned with the general business purpose.  Social media by itself can only be a part of the equation.  Moreover, especially as mobile becomes more prevalent (as is already the case with upper management), social media can have an impact on PR and search marketing (SEM), on CRM and eCommerce, on employer image (employer brand), on learning skills (blended learning), knowledge management systems, on research & development, customer service and the list goes on.  The integration of social into the core of the business will thus involve more strategic issues and mean working with a broad swath of the company: marketing, communications (internally and externally), HR training & education, IT and sales.  An orientation for this role would be to spearhead innovation via all things digital. The title I think most suitable would be Digital Innovation Officer(DIO), reporting directly to the CEO.

Digital innovation scope

Initially, I could see four major responsibilities under this DIO, which might be broken down as follows: Digital Marketing, Customer Service, Research & Customer Insights, Human Resources (internal social media, intranet, eLearning, personal branding…).  The potential for digital technology to have an impact on the core fabric of a company, its culture and processes and systems, is very real and must be carefully plotted out.

The profile of the Digital Innovation Officer?

As if I were head hunting, these might be some of the characteristics I’d be looking for in a DIO.

  • Business acumen and experience to be able to participate in all strategic level discussions
  • Credibility vis a vis all board members
  • General Management experience in a smaller outfit would be plus
  • Ability to interface across all departments
  • Someone who walks the talk – ideally open to geekdom.  I would suspect that this individual should have also developed a strong personal brand?

What does success looks like?

Since we are talking digital, we should be able to measure with SMART objectives at least some elements of the DIO’s work.  Obviously, this would depend on the projects and scope accorded to the role.  I could imagine being able to track employee satisfaction as a direct corrollary (at least considering the level of frustration that technology and digital media can create when it goes wrong).   There is a great opportunity to measure customer satisfaction via the level of feedback (aka noise or even complaints) online?  We could indeed go very far. For example, following IBM’s example, do we start to measure the social footprint and evolution of the employee base? One thing is for sure.  An individual can be responsible for such a transformation only to the extent that the CEO has bought in hook, line and sinker the concept and its consequences.  And it would certainly help if he/she had a high digital IQ! I’d be very curious to hear your thoughts?

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