The Question of Who?
There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach to social. Each business has different objectives, needs and internal culture, but the overriding fact is that for businesses to survive today they need to act as a social enterprise. Having said that, each business will need to approach social strategy with their own requirements in mind. For example a fashion brand wanting to engage with a Gen Y audience will have a completely different approach than an IT healthcare company targeting a B2B audience.
Likewise, who leads this social effort will be different for each organisation – it may be a head of social or a Chief Marketing Officer or led by a Chief Digital Officer – but there are some commonalities in the qualities and skills that this person needs to have.
Every successful business relies on its people, understanding the vision of the business and working towards the same strategy to make it a success. Social is a now a key vehicle for many organisations and is an essential channel both internally and externally – intrinsic to communications, sales, HR and customer engagement and more. The person who best understands this will be a strong candidate for leading the social effort; they will lead from behind to encourage change across the wider business. Social strategy works best in business when it is used across departments to meet their business goals – don’t just leave social in its own silo.
With this inclusion in mind, social must be open to all staff and customers, but that’s often easier said than done, and businesses are now experimenting with how to best do this. One approach is the development of social ‘centres of excellence’, that bring together individuals from multiple departments. This group define procedures, measures and approaches that are then open to everyone. This helps make social less vulnerable as the responsibility is not allocated to one person. Having a solitary social guru can also be a risky strategy, for example, if your social expert leaves the business, the skills and knowledge that person has leaves with them.
When it comes down to hiring at an individual level, there is now a wealth of social talent, so a passion for the brand and social is a given. At a tactical and operational level skills that are crucial to look for include; writing, design, editing, proofreading, visual skills, understanding of media (i.e. paid owned and earned media) and business acumen to understand the interconnections.
The shift from social as a marketing and communications channel to a business tool has prompted an evolution in how businesses are implementing it. The benefits are far reaching from the ability to gather customer data, share information, resolve issues and build stronger relationships with both staff and customers. By its very nature social is open to all, and through inspiring a socially open enterprise, the benefits will be far greater in the long term.