Putting Together the Social Media Dream Team

While there is still some debate on the merits of social media (and I will continue to provide information showing the value) many have come to accept that it is a business-must. So if you accept that social media is a powerful part of an integrated business/marketing plan, how are you going to go about putting the right people in place to deliver kick @$$ solutions?

In the past two months, I have had the challenge, honor, and excitement of doing just this. I head up the social media strategy and operations at Hachette Filipacchi Media (brands include Elle, Woman’s Day, Elle Décor, Car and Driver, Road and Track, Cycle World, Premiere, Filipacchi Publishing, and newly announced partnership in Glo). I’d like to share with you, at a high level, my process and decisions that have yielded, what I consider, a social media dream team. Disclaimer: While I am employed by Hachette Filipacchi Media, all of the opinions expressed within are solely mine and do not represent HFM in any way.

The first step is understanding: 1) your placement in the organization, 2) the clients you serve, 3) their objectives, and 4) what success looks like – all independent of being an internal or external resource. The social media group should be an agency model – you have clients that own their own brand decisions and look to subject matter experts for guidance, recommendations, plans, support, and execution, but at the end of the day, the clients you serve own the ultimate decision of what is in and what is out.

When you have a solid understanding of the landscape and those you serve, then you can assess the requirements of the delivery team. Every team needs balance – it is not just about having superstars on your team. Case in point … US Men’s Basketball Team only winning bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics – a huge disappointment and under achievement given US domination up to that point. Team – not just superstars – a well balanced team.

If you’re looking for a well balanced social media team here are some things you should look for in the summation of all in the group (including yourself):

• Sound business and marketing knowledge and experience – all the cool social media tools and outlets must be integrated into the big business picture
• Experience taking product and/or services to market
• Knowledge of the target market you serve and ability to define requirements and segments
• Ability to define and implement roadmap and new supporting technologies
• Project/program management
• Ability to define the influencers and work directly with them
• Proven experience using social media to participate, engage, and converse with the target market
• Knowledge, conviction, and profound passion for social media both professionally and personally
• Analytical strength to define appropriate things to be measured and accurately do so
• Good balance of personalities – both soft and hard, but all driven
• Good balance of “research types” and “creative types”

When I look at the stellar HFM Social Media Team, I am extremely confident of what we will achieve and how, over a period time, we will produce measurable results. One of the key reasons I am so optimistic is that I look at each of us, and no matter level of seniority, I am positive that we will all educate each other. Each one of us has a different way we use social media. Each of us has used a diverse set of social media tools, some overlap, but certainly there is much uniqueness as well. While I am the leader of the team, I learn from each and every member. We rally our diverse perspective.

So I know, many of you reading this are saying, yeah, but Hachette is a large company. Reality check here … HFM has primarily been a magazine company. What do you think magazine companies have done in the past 3 years … closed many publications, had significant reduction in force, and are far from a spending free for all. But Hachette Filipacchi Media is committed to innovation and digital. You should think about this – consider the tough times and decisions at HFM and areas they are making investments.

What do you need to do differently in your business (not additionally) that will push you in a more competitive nature? The HFM Social Media Team is a team of four serving multiple brands and initiatives. Thus, like all in business today, we are a resource constrained team and a lean machine. But we have strong leadership that understands the importance of innovation and digital evolution and they are making some investments here (as opposed to other places). At the end of last year, I wrote an article “Winning with Social Media at Your Company: A Letter to the CEO.” Do you get it yet, and if you do, are you ready to build your dream team?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve



Filed under brands, marketing, marketing plan, Recruiting, social media, social media organization, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

12 responses to “Putting Together the Social Media Dream Team

  1. Congratulations Steve!

    Indeed a great social media team can help build a groundswell of support for each other and the brand.
    I also hope you include Virtual worlds and platforms which can be used for media in an Avatar based environment.
    There are many applications for your clients, especially the magazines which can be met with a real time branded community based in Second Life.

    If you need any advice in this area, please feel free to call me.

  2. Good article, Steve – and congrats on getting your team together!

    I noticed that the paragraph after the list discussed the fact that the team had diverse backgrounds and perspectives. I wondered whether it might make sense to put that in the actual list?

    Cheers, Ian

  3. Hi Steve,

    You seem optimistic and enthusiastic, that’s a great start. Two observations which come to mind:

    1. You seem to be very “American” and “Corporate” in your writing. One thing I keep on hearing from the “geeks” who run social media sites is: think big. The old school thinking sold to “management” and the “decision makers”, which was fine when the channel of communication was narrow: magazines are a very narrow channel of communication and therefore has suffered.

    2. Your analogy of a “dream team” from the sports world again assumes “a few good men”. This analogy is fine for basketball and centralized corporate structures but does not take the “network” idea into account. If you look at the blogger top list, you will probably be surprised that none of the traditional viewpoints and products of the magazine era are represented there. What the top 50 blogger do in a day, all of US publications have not done in a year! This is not a criticism, it’s an opportunity! Think of how many readers, commentters, and referencers exist for each big blog on an international level.

    America is going to lose this game if you do not start thinking “big” and “spread out”. Oh, but than again, Ariana H. can go global (i.e. cover international politics more than national.)

    But overall, it’s good to see that something in humming to the “right tune” in the halls of corporate America!

    • Thanks for your comments and input.

      Few comments:

      1) If you want to typecast me, I would say I am “alternative” corporate – clearly not a corporate stereotype, but very focused on business metrics, success, and bottom line. This may come across as “corporate.” While I am American and I likely have “an American point of view”, I have done much international business and travel and I am sensitive to how many Americans are perceived.

      2) Good magazines have one thing going for them – superior content. While I do realize this is the age of “good enough content”, just think what an opportunity there is to have superior content coupled with engaging perspectives and execution of the blogger-mentality. This is the magazines’ opportunities and I look to leverage the best of both worlds.

      3) I totally agree with your comment about top bloggers and non-traditional approach. Once again, massive opportunity for superior content with non-traditional approach. It is also worth noting that the reference to “a few good men” is actually the opposite … the social media dream team is made up of a few great women. I am the only male.

      4) I am not sure if the right mind set is thinking “big” but rather thinking of the specific target market served and a super focus on building relationships to that market as opposed to the mentality of selling to them.

      Social Steve

      • PS – The corporation I work for is not American, but French, and I do not think the people there think I am a “corporate type” – might be an advantage, might be a disadvantage. I am who I am.


  4. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for sharing this on linkedin. Team is everything — always — but particularly in social media which is growing faster than any other media I’ve experienced in 25 years in the publishing/media business.

    I’m curious, can you share the mix of the team you brought in? Their particular expertise?

    Either way, good luck! My first job a hundred thousand years ago was at Hachette as part of the ELLE – start-up team in the US. Always enjoyed the interesting mix of wry French humor and bottom-line business approach. Hope you enjoy too.

    Cheers, Kathy

    • Hi Kathy,

      The mix of the team really is covered in the bullet list in the article. Obviously, no one is going to find someone with 10 years social media experience, so I concentrated on a mix of the business and marketing experience I posses with people with a real passion for social media and some working examples of successfully bring social media endeavors to market.


  5. Found it hard to poke holes in any of your thinking as your built you team around these basic principles. I particularly like the idea of balance and hope that you include folks who are able to sit comfortably on the fence between new social oriented efforts the the more traditional ones.

    As you have pointed out your employer is a perfect example of a company and industry that is being forced to change very dramtically its business model and increasingly consider making that model more Internet delivery centric.

    I would only suggest that if one of the rules includes “passion”, as you have suggested that each member must have for social, it should be a “passion” for winning in the marketplace. Although I undestand the prevailing feeling that you need to be personally sold on social with the kind of conviction of an almost religious nature, I caution that if you are to do the best for your “clients” you must make sure your passion is for doing the right things to win.

    If we who do believe in the rapidly expanding and evolving place that social messaging, engagement and media represents, we must also be balanced enough to know when it is not the right solution or when it needs to be intergrated effectively into an entire misson or long term plan.

    Small difference and probably unimportant in the long run but one I wished to contribute to a clearly well thought out and balanced look at building an effective team (for nearly any venue for that matter).

    • Mark –

      You are absolutely correct. Passions for winning in the marketplace is a must. In fact just yesterday I presented to the CEO and top leaders at HFM. I emphasized that having a great strategy was not nearly enough. That we should be judged on execution. You must have a passion to win in the marketplace and this shows (or doesn’t) in your execution.

      Thanks for the addition.

      Social Steve

  6. markwschaefer

    Great job Steve. Sounds like you have it going. Congrats!

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