OK everyone, its 2012 – I hope that every organization and business reading this has a Social Media Director. Other variations on this job title are Online Community Director, Social Media Strategist, Director of Online Initiatives, Social Media Maven, Online Marketing Guru. (For fun, go to The Social Media Job Title Generator and have it spit out a great social media job title just for you!)
When I say “Social Media Director”, I mean the person in charge of your company’s social media and online presence. Using Wikipedia’s great definition, “Social media includes web-based and mobile technologies used to turn communication into interactive dialogue.” This means blogs, mobile campaigns and social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter).
Your Social Media Director can be a volunteer, an outside consultant, a college intern, a marketing associate – or even the business owner or Executive Director herself!
Social media as a field is not very new, but the level to which organizations and companies embrace it and integrate it into their overall marketing plan varies widely.
Whether you are looking to outsource your social media tasks or looking internally, there are certain qualities that are ideal for person managing your online communities.
A successful, effective Social Media Director should have the following characteristics:
1) Passion for social media. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I am constantly surprised at the number of businesses and organizations that delegate this task to a staff member solely based on job title. Just because you are a public relations whiz or a fabulous fundraiser does not mean that you understand or embrace social media and the technology know-how that comes with it. Social media is not for everyone. Find a Director that “gets it” and regularly uses these tools in their personal and professional life.
2) Grammatical and spelling skills (or the sense to get their stuff edited). Just because social media is embraced by the young does not mean that grammatical and spelling errors are acceptable, especially in professional communications. A Social Media Director does not have to be an established writer – but they must be able to speak articulately and succinctly.
3) Leadership ability. This ability may not be fully exploited, but a good online community manager will be able to speak up for themselves and for the good of the community. No spineless, wimpy people will succeed in this job!
4) Confidence (but not over-confidence). When interacting in real-time on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, a good Social Media Director will be able to press that “post” or “tweet” button. They will have the confidence (and support from the higher ups). Individuals that have a tendency to over think and second-guess every decision they make will not thrive in the fast-paced, spontaneous social media environment. On the other hand, they need to know when to consult the higher-ups for permission or advice.
5) Discipline and organization. Writing a blog post on a schedule is a tough thing to do. Coming up with inventive, interesting and compelling content for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and others day in, day out is challenging. An effective Social Media Director will use editorial calendars, scheduling technology and other planning tools to ensure that posts and tweets are being published regularly. Responding to requests, questions and comments takes time and organization to manage. This is not a job for the easily overwhelmed.
6) Manners. A great Social Media Director will take the time to understand the particular etiquette of each social network and will participate appropriately. They will respond to comments (even mean ones) on their page, blog, etc. with grace and poise.
7) A level head. At the first sign of trouble, an valuable Social Media Director will not freak out, shove her head into the sand or run for the hills. Managing multiple social media accounts, especially with the expectation that all comments and posts will get a response immediately, can make some people very anxious. They key is to know what you can and what you can’t do, and set the expectations of your online communities as necessary.
8) Have a thick skin. Comments on social media are often made off-the-cuff without a whole lot of thought or planning going into them, especially on blogs or Facebook pages around controversial topics. Social Media Directors should aim not to take anything personally and to always respond appropriately and not fly off the handle at negative comments. (You can always block/report people for obscene language.)
9) Accountability. With that thick skin, however, comes accountability – the willingness to take responsibility for anything that is posted or tweeted. The tendency to pass the buck is high, but a great Social Media Director will swallow their pride and admit their mistakes. (Also, they will take credit for their successes!)
10) Curiosity and a continuous hunger to know more. With technology and online tools changing and evolving so rapidly, the best Social Media Directors know they can’t just maintain the status quo. They need to be willing and able to learn, to read and to develop professionally in this field.
What do you think? Are there any characteristics that I missed? Please post your ideas in the Comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org