In 2007, when Ford hired Scott Monty as head of its social media, it made CMOs look up and take notice.
In his seven-year tenure, the respected blogger and social-media expert transformed the automotive giant. It went from being a company that fought one social-media crisis after another, into a social star.
Here are 10 ways to do the same for your business…
Social media is evolving. It’s becoming more nuanced and fragmented. The tools we have to help us manage it grow like kudzu.
So keeping track of everything and integrating it into company life requires a specialist.
In a tacit acknowledgement that social media isn’t going away, many businesses have since created a similar position to Monty’s. If you’re thinking of joining the likes of Ford, HP and Coca Cola in appointing a social-media director, then the question is: What should you look for?
Despite the fact that social media is now a business requirement, directing it is an ill-defined job—and one that’s likely to evolve during that person’s tenure. So how do you make sure you make the right choice in those you entrust to steer your profile across the Web?
Here are ten competencies you need:
1. Social Media Network Experience
Yes, it seems like a no-brainer—but apparently not.
There are still businesses today who hire a social media director simply because they have a marketing degree, without checking to see if they understand how social media works.
2. Strong Writing Skills
Although the Web is going visual, text still works.
Strong writers understand how to use words for impact. And they know how to tell stories. This means they also understand the target audience and the principles that go into building a strong brand—one that customers can relate to.
3. An Analytical Mind
Despite its difficulties, social media isn’t rocket science.
What happens across social media networks and the broader Web is governed by principles that have been active forever. The difficulty lies in being able to see that and make use of them to achieve desired outcomes. Strong analytical skills are a must for any social media director hoping to achieve some success.
4. Great Communication Skills
Among the requirements a social media directors need, this is the most critical.
Not only must they be able to communicate effectively outside the company, but there’s a need for strong, clear communication within it. This requires building bridges across different parts of the company, and developing a common understanding of goals, impact points and perceptions.
For a social-media director’s effectiveness, this is make or break.
Social media, by definition, is not a top-down, command-and-control medium. Those active in it can see many different points of view, understand what motivates different people, and identify where the common ground is. Empathy helps humanize the organization and make the task of communicating easier. (It’s arguably the hardest requirement to test for, though.)
6. Blogging Skills
Some social-media directors are active in one or other social networks, and some have a strong following. But, the best one is blog.
Blogging is more than just writing. It’s communication. It’s conversation. It’s opinion. And it’s experience. In other words, blogging is irrefutable evidence of familiarity with the social media space. (Conversely, absence of blogging skills is an indication of deficiency in critical skills.)
The best social-media directors embrace change.
When Google+ came along, most companies with a social-media director stayed away while trying to understand it. But Ford’s Scott Monty leapt right in and gained ground quickly, becoming one of the first to have a Google+ Brand Page of its own. A social-media director who can’t adapt to fast change is unlikely to do well at the job.
8. SEO Skills
In many ways, search is marketing.
It’s also central to building reputation, authority, trustworthiness and expertise. All of these make search critical to branding. A social-media director who doesn’t get search—and search engine optimization (SEO)—has a massive blind spot.
9. Community-Building Experience
Communities are underpinned by certain dynamics that are extremely specific.
Understanding these and being able to plan for them is key to success across the entire social media spectrum.
10. Cultural Awareness
Marketing needs a market. And markets are made of people. And people have cultures.
When the Vidalia Onion Committee used search and social to successfully make their brand a household name, the then social-media director, Wendy Brannen, allied with Shrek and its association with onions, for an easy media win. She also clinched the argument for the need to have a 360-degree view of the cultural landscape—both online and offline—in order to find winning marketing opportunities.
The Bottom Line
You want your social-media director to lead the change, not react to it.
Someone who doesn’t have all these competencies is unlikely to do the kind of job that will help transition your company into the social-media communication landscape of tomorrow’s business.