Archive for Comcast

Is Twitter Frying Our Brains?

Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, thinks so. In the Sunday magazine section, he writes a rare bylined article entitled: “The Twitter Trap.”

His main premise: “Basically, we are outsourcing our brains to the cloud. The upside is that this frees a lot of gray matter for important pursuits like FarmVille and ‘Real Housewives.’ But my inner worrywart wonders whether the new technologies overtaking us may be eroding characteristics that are essentially human: our ability to reflect, our pursuit of meaning, genuine empathy, a sense of community connected by something deeper than snark or political affinity.”

Why So Negative?

He knows he will get “blowback” but I admire him for going on record with what a lot of people are thinking.  First, where I stand.  Social media is gobbling up a lot of people’s time. Remember, it’s still so new. We’re all learning how to use it so that it works for us as individuals – such as connecting on Facebook with far-away friends and relatives or looking for a job on LinkedIn. So, in my mind the jury is still out on its long-term effects on our brains.

Where I take exception to Keller is that he devotes his column almost exclusively to the negative aspects – “Twitter and YouTube are nibbling away at our attention spans…why remember what you can look up in seconds?” he asks.

Social Media Spurs Innovation

I predict that 2011 is the year that companies will jump into social media with both feet. Those on the sidelines will find they need to catch up to the early adopters. Enlightened companies such as IBM have an army of employees writing blogs under the IBM imprimatur “IBMers’ blogs: A menu of expertise and insight from a passionate crowd”  – with the links to dozens of employee bloggers. Note the words “expertise and insight.” By unleashing their employees the company has an army of brand advocates reporting on IBM’s newest innovations.

The web has revolutionized customer service. At Comcast’s Twitter account @comcastcares customers can get their complaints taken care of by a team of Comcast employees, such as Bill Gerth, “also known as @comcastbill. We are here to Make it Right for our customers.” He’s posted some 74,000 tweets.

Web-based Communities

The internet has enabled many companies to form communities of employees from around the globe  – focused on innovation, problem solving and client service. In the past, if an engineer in the U.S. needed an expert to help solve a sticky problem, it’s doubtful he would know the very person he wanted works in the Hong Kong office. The web has changed that. We can even have face-to-face communications via Skype, making the connection personal.

I won’t even go into how Twitter is forming communities that are forcing radical changes on governments around the world. You’ve read all about that.

So, Bill Keller, while I appreciate your frustration with a lot of the dreck that passes as discourse on social networks, the good far outweighs the bad. We don’t need to memorize books like they did in the olden days. After we take a minute to find what we need in a web search, we can take the time we would have devoted to memorization to reflect on new ideas that will make things easier, cheaper, faster and maybe even earn some money.


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.