What kind of training / education / experience "qualifies" you to do social strategy?

Ninjas, Gurus, Specialists, Experts – how do you hire the right person or develop the right skill set to develop your social strategy, implement it and then manage it long term?  Companies struggle with this very issue when looking to start managing social media.  Those who have attempted to set something up early on mostly went to the person who already used social in some way and put them in charge of strategy, direction, budget and gave them access to senior executives (including sometimes the CEO).  As crazy as it sounds when writing this, it is a reality that I see over and over.  It becomes quickly apparent that social users don’t always make the best business operators.  Another challenge is that every company thinks of social very differently.  It has become a bucket term for everything that is engaging or interactive and therefore difficult to pin down exactly what skills are needed.

First, let’s uncover what we mean by social media.  Social is a transformational way of communicating via digital channels.  Where that fits within the enterprise is subject to the needs, focus and objectives of each company.  This could include:

  • Marketing – both customer facing and internal campaign management, branding, promotion, research, product specific
  • Public Relations – social press release, incorporating rich media, distribution of content
  • Employees – Internal communications, communities of practice, knowledge management
  • Partner / Channel – dialogue with partners, suppliers, channels
  • Service / Support – manage customer issues in the channel of their choice, when they want help
  • Human Resources – recruiting, evaluations
  • IT – managing new tools, architecture to support, integration into legacy systems
  • Innovation – systematic way to incorporate innovation as an asset

Think about the list above and consider all the pieces needed to make any one of those social initiatives successful.  Skills might include:

  • Strategy – strategy development is very different than implementation or delivery
  • Content Development – from tweets, to blogs, to video, audio, imagery – it may all be required for different reasons.  Those who can blog, my not be good at instant tweets or creating compelling videos
  • Training – employees need consistent training and a framework by which to operate and measure performance from
  • Change Management – social communication and engagement is a seismic shift for many companies.  Policies, procedures, culture, expectations all need to be reset across the organization
  • Communicating – some people are good at public speaking, some not.  Some are good on video, some audio, some only written communications. These are all very different skill sets.  Tone is important, empathy and enough corporate knowledge to “speak” credibly.
  • Technical – to sign up for an account, manage a Facebook page, start a blog, incorporate collaboration tools internally, or anything else with social requires some capability to evaluate, choose, implement and run some type of tools

All of these skills are completely different career paths in many cases and require very different capabilities, backgrounds and experiences.  It is unrealistic to expect for one person to be able to truly be good at all of these skill sets.  It is important to understand the goal of your social efforts and the different skill sets required to develop, implement and manage it.  Only at that point can you begin to put together the resources needed to be successful.  To manage the discussion this week is Meg Fowler who is returning to host yet another chat for us.  Her take on the topic is below:

Individuals from a wide variety of educational and experiential backgrounds are taking on roles with social business components (social strategy, community management, managing social campaigns) and within the social business space. As a result, we’re seeing more debate over what actually “qualifies” individuals to take on these roles and tasks, and the ideal background to climb the social business ladder. On the other hand, we’re seeing debate about what skills and experience those in social roles might be lacking — holes that can’t help but have an impact on the success of their initiatives. There are many, many questions swirling around this debate, but we’re going to take on these three specifically today:

Topic: What kind of training / education / experience “qualifies” you to do social strategy?

Q1) If you work in social business / have social components to your job, what aspects of your background come in to play most often, day-to-day — and what types of experiences do you wish you’d had more of to prepare you for your current role?

Q2) Is a facility with social media more a function of temperament, or training?

Q3) If you’re starting a social media initiative in your company, would you tend to hire from within and train someone for the role (with consulting, workshops, conferences, etc.) or hire someone from outside your company with social business experience?

Please join us in this online chat on Tuesday, April 5th at noon ET.  Follow #sm105 from your favorite Twitter client or simply go to our LIVE page at www.hashtagsocialmedia.com/live.  The format will stay the same with the first question starting at noon and a new question coming every 20 minutes at 12:20 and 12:40.

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2 Responses to What kind of training / education / experience "qualifies" you to do social strategy?

  1. This is very interesting collective knowledge. There is one on similar lines that may be of interest to you: http://pervarakapadiaatmoney.blogspot.com/2011/03/social-media-professionals-skill-sets.html


  2. Khalid says:

    Very interesting article.
    What we can add to the above is that Social Media is a mindset, it’s actually a culture that permits to go through a passive way of interacting with the environment to a more proactive behaviour that makes people involved in this discipline actors of their environment.

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