Friday, April 8

Unfriending the Social Media Director

I love it when fuzzy Dotcom buzzwords become the recruiting job title du jour = New Media Director, Emerging Media Specialist, Technology Evangelist, Digital Innovations Manager. The variations are endless!

I have nothing against specific 2.0 job descriptions. Community managers, mobile marketers, and new channel analysts all have important duties to perform. It is the job titles that don't convey a sense of purpose that drive me crazy.

Currently the most overused title being tossed around is Social Media Director. I stopped counting the number of recruiters pushing this over the last six months. Every company seems to have realized that they can't function without one, must have one, and need them right now.

Here's the most interesting issue: none of them can find qualified candidates. The recruiters are certainly confused. Should they find them at digital agencies? PR agencies? Client-side marketing departments? Is it a strategic, executional, or technical role? Do they report into the PR Director, the VP of Marketing or (God forbid) IT? Senior or mid level?

I love asking exactly what the position manages. The most popular response: "Well, you know, the company really expects this person to define that as part of their on-boarding." Runner up: "Well, um, you know, Facebook and things like that."

Therein lies the issue. If you can't explain the job title's responsibilities, then the title itself is too vague. It reminds me of the Days of the Webmaster (for those of you as old as Interweb dirt). Back in the early Dotcom years, anyone involved with a company's website could be the Webmaster. It didn't matter if you were the technical guy in IT who ran the site, the quasi-artistic woman who designed and hand-coded it, or the poor deer-in-the-headlights project manager who had to keep it updated.

Website Owner = Webmaster

Back then it wasn't embarrassing to have Webmaster printed on your business cards. Trust me, I was one of them. But it also was a pain in the ass explaining to your co-workers exactly what you did all day. "You know, website stuff." It was soon replaced by a variety of titles that actually explained your role = Website Technologist, Web Designer, Content Manager. I am waiting for this evolution to hit the whole Social Media job market.

For instance, Director of E-Commerce is more than a job description. It also explains how your employment success is measured = sell stuff online. There is no reason that these social media job titles can't perform the same duty. Social Commerce Manager makes a lot more sense.

Sure it still may require you to oversee all the quasi-social platforms that can't find a home within your organization. But at least you establish a context for how they should be utilized. Twitter unable to generate revenue right now? Maybe you don't need to worry about tweeting so much.

My bet is on a completely new title = Director of Advocacy. This role definitely expands beyond social media. However, its core essence is rooted there. Why do most marketers find promise in Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and niche community web sites? Why do they spend money on social media listening and flood any industry conference session with the word Social in it?

We are all chasing the same Marketing Holy Grail = consumer word of mouth. The chance to influence consumers, have them talk about us, and track the impact those conversations have on our brands (and sales). Social media has become the easiest way to participate in this magical process.

But Word of Mouth itself is a fuzzy marketing term. I believe it is the bastard step-parent of Viral Marketing. Both promise "free" promotion of your product or brand. Both require a cross-your-fingers-and-hope-they-do-spread-it approach. True, WOM can be jump started with marketing programs. But as many of us interactive marketers have been saying for many years = You can't make something go viral. Just like you can't make something go word of mouth.

But I believe Advocacy is more than just a word of mouth initiative. It is a formal strategy encouraging consumers to say positive things about your products and (more importantly) generate positive content that can be leveraged in marketing programs. Online is a very efficient channel to identify the consumers most willing to talk about you positively. It also is an efficient channel to aggregate the content that they create. Most importantly, it is an efficient channel to promote that content and reach non-users who may be influenced by it. This Advocacy Loop can be built on the backbone of social media properties and consumer behaviors.

I recently presented a case study on Brand-Distributed Consumer Advocacy that demonstrates just that. It is a small example, but enough proof that social media has a very important role.

The best part is that the Director of Advocacy cannot be pigeonholed into just being the Social Media Guru. To be successful, advocacy must be leveraged throughout your owned/earned/paid programs online. It should be utilized across not just online channels, but offline as well. All with a very specific goal in mind.

At least that is my current pitch. It usually results in very short recruiter conversations. But eventually companies will realize it as the natural next step. If not, then I already have my Social Webmaster business cards ready to send to the printers.

1 comment:

--stephen said...

Told you so:

In what appears to be a first for an agency holding company, Publicis' VivaKi unit has created a chief social media officer role