Career of Path of a Corporate Social Strategist


If you’re interested in how corporations are organizing their social media strategies, then the slide show at the bottom of this post will bring you up to date on current practice.

It highlights the results of recent online study, conducted by the Altimeter Group, a technology management consulting firm. The firm surveyed “140 enterprise-class social strategists across industries,” according to the study.

The study’s catalyst was noted web strategist and Altimeter partner Jeremiah Owyang.  His blog Web Strategy gets 70,000 unique visitors monthly so obviously a lot of people believe his insights and research into corporate social media strategy are on the money.  In this presentation he tracks the career path of a Corporate Social Strategist defined as:

“The Corporate Social Strategist is the business decision maker of social media programs — providing leadership, roadmap definition, innovation; and directly influencing the spending on technology vendors and service agencies.”

Among the key findings:

  • Almost 80 per cent of those surveyed said their programs are not looking long term, and have existed for less than three years.
  • The vast majority of Corporate Social Strategists report to Marketing or Corporate Communications
  • Funding is limited, with more than 75% of companies reporting an annual spend of less than $500,000.
  • There are five principal ways that companies organize the social media function.
  • It’s uncertain whether the Corporate Social Strategist will achieve top management ranks in the next five years.

Do you agree with Altimeter’s definition and where do you think the Corporate Social Strategist will be in his/her organization in five years?  How will they be influencing corporate strategy?

Leave a Reply


  1. I find the presentation overpowering for the average, uninformed small business owner. Even I stopped and asked: “What did he say?” at times. I did find the quote by shelisrael reassuring. It indicates I am not alone in ranting and raving, shouting from the mountaintop that the love train is about to leave the station without you. “Why can’t they see it?” applies equally to both senior corporate people as well as the vast majority of small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs mired in traditional outbound marketing techniques or asking “How do I get results?”.

  2. I think that Social Media is still so new that it reports to Marketing or Corporate Communications. What I would not want to see is a Chief Social Media Officer. We have enough CXOs running around. The summary results do not surprise me. Twitter did not start til 2006. LinkedIn around then as well. Social Media is new.


  3. Thanks, Rob. While social media is still new, it’s no excuse for companies not to recognize that it is the future — where they will be conducting business and connecting with their employees and customers.

  4. Hi Jeannette,

    I read somewhere recently and can’t find it to point to, but it said that B2C companies were embracing social media and it was B2B that were lagging. I also think that some companies have stopped listening because they are being pounded by others about social media. Many of the posts focus on the rational benefits to companies and I don’t see too many highlighting the emotional benefits that would entice companies to engage.

    I know companies are interested in ROI, however B2C companies know that it can be difficult to isolate one particular element as it is the combination. Perhaps that is why they have become more involved.

  5. Susan — you’re right. B2C companies have embraced social media, especially for promotions, coupons and direct selling. B2B companies, like accountants and lawyers have been slower to adapt. I think it’s because they are often dealing in complex matters that don’t lend themselves to the simplicity of a tweet, for example. Also, a lot of companies are hiding behind compliance as an excuse — can’t do it because of all the rules.

  6. I also read something similar to what Susan was referring to in regards to B2B lagging in getting on board the social media train. You’re reasoning makes sense. Let’s face it, social media is still very new and it will take time for people to get on board. I can tell you from my experience that people still think they can do business without a website. Surprising, but true. So social media will become a daily business practice once everyone is on board except the few that are still holding on to some ancient business practices. Heck, I didn’t do twitter up until 11 months ago. Now, I swear by it.

  7. Hi Jeannette,

    It doesn’t surprise me that B2B is lagging behind B2C in the social media arena. After all, social media did start out being just “social” with MySpace and then Facebook. I wrote a blog about social media and professional services and was actually surprised that many attorneys are involved in social media – reading and writing blogs. There does seem to be an age factor involved though with the younger professionals being more involved than their older counterparts. Hopefully in time, those still holding out for various reasons will see the light and jump on board. If you are interested, you can check out my post (as it is highly related to your blog) here:

  8. Agree with Michael that the presentation is overpowering and too long. Also stopped after about 15 slides.

    However, I do believe social media is very important but agree with Rob that we don’t need another C-level title. It’s about time chiefs of marketing and corporate communication, not only in B2C but also B2B, learn what social media is and how to use it for the benefit of their company. Obviously they will sooner or later jump on the social media band wagon.

  9. Thanks for sharing this with the Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community, Jeannette. These research results generated a lot of reflection in cyberspace after they were published. I collected a number of the posts, including Jeremiah Owyang’s, and plan to publish a special issue of the SMinOrgs S.M.A.R.T. News Digest on the subject. If you’d like to to be a guest editor for that digest, that’d be awesome. You can highlight your own blog post, of course, in addition to reflecting on what others have written.

    If you’re interested, please message me and I will send you the template as well as links to samples of similar digests. Once the piece is written, I will publish it on our blog and disseminate it through SMinOrgs’ cyber-channels.

    Courtney Hunt
    Founder, SMinOrgs Community

  10. A formalized social media strategy should be part of everyone’s business plan. To not include this in a corporations overall strategy is negligent. The role of a Corporate Social Strategist is simply a sign of the times.

    I found the slide depicting whether social media should be “controlled” by one department to be interesting. One of the comments was that it “may not be as authentic”. That may be an inherent risk but on the other hand, I don’t believe that one corporate voice is the best way to interact with your customers. It’s important for social media to not appear scripted.

    Thanks for sharing the slideshow Jeannette!

  11. Meredith — thank you for your kind words. I’m glad that you’ve found the content helpful to your social media strategy.