Profile of a Social Media Director

[tweetmeme]The role of social media in promoting a company’s brand and services is so important that I thought it was time to examine the profile of the Social Media Director. I started by pulling up job postings to sift through the specific skills and experience that companies expect of candidates for this relatively new position in organizations.

My first stop was The Ladders, which only posts jobs of $100k or more, and they had no jobs listed anywhere in the country even when I searched variations on the title.  This was disappointing, because this position calls for a six-figure salary.

I then went to job board aggregator Simply Hired and was delighted to find multiple listings for Social Media Director and variations like Director, Social Media and Communications; Director, Public Relations and Social Media, SEO and Social Media Director, etc.  I was disappointed, though, that the first company listing that I found was, indeed, from The Ladders (so job searchers beware if you’re not successful searching this site).

Qualifications Required

Of the job postings I reviewed, the Social Media Director is at the middle manager level, usually reporting into the top PR or marketing executive. The job requirements I read are so broad and encompassing they would be impossible for one person to accomplish.  But not every job description included managing a team.  Good luck solo directors!

I was gratified to read in Motorola’s qualifications for a Senior Director, Social Media, “This is a new role requiring an individual who can harness marketing, brand building, corporate communications, stakeholder engagement and issues management expertise.”  These are big time responsibilities.

I believe that in the not-too-distant future the Social Media Director will be elevated to the executive suite and report directly to the CEO or COO.

7 Basic Duties

Based on my research, here is the profile of a Social Media Director:

  • Direct social media programs. Well, this is the obvious one.  Manage the company’s participation on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Develop communications strategies across product and service lines.  This is encouraging, because companies now understand that social media permeates every part of the organization.  Companies like Coca-Cola, Intel, Procter & Gamble and many others are launching product/service and educational campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube and they need skilled communicators to execute them.
  • Identify revenue opportunities.  Wow, this is exciting because the director is usually in a staff position (read: below the line on the balance sheet).  Finally, staff employees are being recognized for their ability to contribute to ROI.  Hurray!
  • Customer relations.  This is a big one.  Customers are gathering in online communities where they have a forum to vent their feelings about their experiences – both good and bad.  Companies like Comcast pioneered the concept of an instant response team to respond to customer concerns.  Go to @comcastcares on Twitter and follow the conversations between “Comcast Will” and customers regarding service issues, such as outages and email failures.  Or visit Motorola’s @MotoMobile for their interactions with customers.  Fascinating reading.
  • Enlist employees as brand advocates. This one is close to my heart because employees can be the best advocates for their company.  Frontier Communications’ requirements include identifying “brand evangelists and celebrity bloggers to virally spread Frontier’s value through relevant online communities.”  I’m not a celebrity – but I’m available, Frontier.
  • Reputation Management. In other words, ensure that the company’s brand and reputation are enhanced by social media activities.
  • Investor Relations. I only saw this listed in one job description, but it certainly seems like a good use of social media.  Many highly regulated organizations, like financial services companies, have put a lid on social media, but I think it’s often just an excuse.  They would have to draw up strict protocols, but it can be done.  Just see Wells Fargo and their Bon Jovi promotion.

Of course, I couldn’t read every job description, so I’m sure I’ve missed essential skills that some companies require.  All I know is that the Social Media Director is becoming a major force in the success of his or her company in influencing all its targets: customers, employees, government, investors, and the media.

Please leave me a comment if you think there are other job requirements that I’ve left out and we’ll build out the profile.  Thanks.

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Comments

  1. LOL. As a solopreneur I can say, “I qualify!” LOL. Seriously though, this is a full time position right? I’m not applying, instead, making an observation. Here’s one reason why.

    Reputation management. I use this. Part of what I do is have my name coming to me from Google alerts, in different formats. It helps me to see if anyone talking about me, besides myself (chuckle) is saying positive things.

    Nice summary Jeannette.

  2. As the lines between PR, marketing and sales continue to blur the skillset required for social media director is going to grow. ROI will continue to play a big role as social signal strength now directly impacts search engine rank on both Google and Bing. Thanks for researching what companies expect of and pay social media directors today Jeannette.

  3. As an entrepreneur who has just been gearing up to launch my Facebook Fan Page, I had to chuckle at the “full time job” mention in this post. I totally agree that attention to one’s online presence can be just that…I just wish I could hire someone to do it. Someday! 🙂

    • Thanks, Mic. I looked up Philippe Borremans on LinkedIn and he has a very interesting background. Also, like the content on your own site.

  4. Yes, I agree the role of the Social Media Director in corporations will continue to grow. But entrepreneurs are their own Social Media Directors — and as indicated in the comments — is a 24/7 job. There are Virtual Assistants who are taking on some of these duties so something to check out.

  5. This is an interesting post. I’ve always wondered what exactly to expect from a Social Media “Expert” or as you pose it, “Director”. There are an enormous number of individuals who call themselves “qualified” in this category but I’ve always wondered how to really confirm their know-how. Social media changes so fast. Is it safe to hire someone who is “self taught”? How does a small business entreprener know who is really an expert and who just wishes they were?

  6. Keyuri — very important question. You can ask for samples of their work and check references. How to post a blog, or an update to Facebook is important. But in my view the strategy behind using social media is even more important. It’s easy to establish a Twitter account but how are you going to leverage it to grow your business?

    • Lucy — I’m glad my blog spurred this conversation. Would love to read your take on the role of the Social Media Director.

  7. Jeannette, this is timely and very thought provoking. I don’t agree that “social media director” should be a high-level position. But I’d have to write too much here to explain all my reasoning – your blog post has spurred me on to write a blog post of my own that builds on what you’ve said!

  8. Hi Jeannette,

    Thanks for doing the research. I think the level depends on the company, however I do believe it the role should report in to head of marketing to ensure all strategies are consistent for brands. It will be interesting to see how this area and role develops over time.

  9. This is a very helpful post! I really love to drop by on your blogs for I always got some new ideas from you Jeannette! Thanks!

  10. Hi Jeannette,

    Great post. As the Chief Social Media Officer for the Van Marcke Group of Companies I do all of the above except investor relations as we’re a privately run (family owned) company.

    It definitely is a full time job, especially when responsible for both internal and external use of social media communications. In my case the job is really a coordinator/educator/implementor one. I work in between marketing, PR, customer support and the business but am lucky enough to report straight to the owners of the company.

    My main objective is to get social media communications “engrained” into all aspects (where and when it makes sense) of the business as such. Could be I am – by doing this – taking me out of the equation in the long run but then again, there will always be a need for a pilot in the cockpit (I hope ;-).

    The thing is, it is a very new kind of job and at the same time, with a background in PR, not really different when you take into account the real meaning of “public relations” (= not only media relations).

    It definitely has to do with the overall reputation of the company but in our case, is driven by a real need and will to change the company as a whole.

    Interesting times, not easy and taking a lot of time and resources but well worth doing if there’s a fit with the business and communications objectives of an organization.

    Feel free to get in touch to discuss more on the topic.

    Kind regards from Belgium.

    • Phillipe — thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. The Social Media Director (Officer) is such a new title that the responsibilities are still being defined. I’m glad that I captured most of what you (and possibly other) Social Media Directors are doing in their companies. I hope people continue to add to the discussion. I will be in touch.

  11. Jeannette:

    It is really interesting to see the big PR and Advertising firms all of a sudden be Social Media houses. Everyone claims to be an expert but is not. Your list looks comprehensive to me. What would be interesting is a similar post for the business owner who is a solopreneur or has very few employees. Thanks for the research.

    Rob

  12. It’s great that you took the time to do this research and share your insights, Jeannette.

    Part 6 of the Social Media Primer I’m developing (http://tiny.cc/SMinOrgsPrimer6) provides some complementary research and perspectives; however, I take a broader perspective on the human capital management issues that leveraging social media can create. Not only do organizations need to think beyond new social media positions – even leadership positions – they need to think about what increased social media implementations mean for existing roles, as well as related issues concerning talent acquisition, compensation, training, etc.

    And though it may seem to be a quibble, I am perennially bothered by the widely held assumption that social media = external applications like marketing, sales, branding, customer service, etc. As I discuss in Part 2 of the primer (http://tiny.cc/SMinOrgsPrimer2), external applications are just the tip of the iceberg. As a set of technologies, social media will have much more value and use to an organization when leveraged internally, as well as on the boundary between organizations.

    When intra-organizational and inter-organizational applications are considered, as well as the myriad legal, policy and human capital management implications of these technologies, we will start to realize that the “Social Media Director” job, however it may be labeled, is far bigger than what most people perceive today. One of the future parts of the primer will address this idea explicitly by tackling the “ownership” question. If I could just find – I mean make – the time… : – }

    Courtney Hunt
    Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community