Whether you are looking for an internal employee, agency, or consultant to lead your social media marketing efforts you really need a hybrid of digital expertise and traditional marketing experience. In today’s world, everyone jumps to the conclusion that a young digital power user should lead the social marketing efforts, but if you are looking for someone to drive a holistic, integrated social practice that yields company KPIs (key performance indicators), then you need a seasoned professional. At the same time, you should make sure the “seasoned professional” is not only experienced in delivering social success, but is one who is consistently keeping up on current innovations and audience trends and behaviors.
Far too often there is a sole emphasis on knowledge and use of digital platforms. Yes, of course, this is most important as they are the marketing channels that your social leader will be responsible for. But digital channels cannot sit in isolation. They must be connected and integrated with all other marketing endeavors. You require someone that has worked in other marketing channels that can be integrated and leveraged with social. Social marketing is by and large a brand marketing play. Social needs to be integrated both with other brand marketing efforts and direct marketing efforts as well. Make sure your social leader has the knowledge and experience to create synergy between brand and direct marketing.
So your social leader needs to understand the other marketing functions and make sure social is a holistic integrated function. It takes a true leader to make sure social works with other marketing functions. Honestly speaking, this is difficult as most marketing counterparts do not understand social marketing well. In some cases, they are scared by it because of their lack of knowledge. It takes a non-threatening, patient, collaborative person to work through the organizational evolution required.
As you consider other qualifications of your social leader, remember it all starts with your target audience. Ask yourself, “Is the person we are considering going to research and engage with the target market such that a complete and thorough understanding of their wants, needs, motivations, and turn offs are completely understood?” The social leader must be driven by the audience behavior more than hype of new platforms.
And while the social leader needs to be concerned about the target audience’s interest to create awareness and consideration, they also want to make sure that once they turn into a customer, the customer remains loyal. Thus the social leader also needs to understand customer delivery and customer service. In the end, you not only want to use social marketing to increase customer loyalty, but you also want social to create and activate brand advocates.
The next area of knowledge and expertise for your social leader is data, analytics, and the ability to drive rational decision making based on empirical data. Social is not a “feel good” marketing endeavor. Like everything else in today’s critical business world, metrics need to be produced and measurable results need to be demonstrated.
These are some core qualifications that should be required of your social leader along with your companies own details of the job description. But there are some soft skills and qualifications that should be required as well. Your social leader needs to be a mentoring type. They need to be someone that not only has patients to educate others, but one that is enthusiastic about doing so. They must be relentless and collaborative in their execution. I can tell you that while everyone is interested in social, many are still overly cautious about taking steps forward. Social is still very new and still very misunderstood. The social leader cannot be frustrated by slow adoption, but rather take each small win as another mile passed in the marathon of success.
The last area I would touch on for your social leader focuses on the ability to derive a creative strategic approach. Everyone is on the social band wagon and there is much social noise in every brand vertical space. True social leadership will drive implementations that stand above the noise to capture the attention of the audience. Make sure your social leader shows strong signs of creativity and strategy.
In closing, I would just mention a couple other attributes that I hope are obvious. 1) Passion – make sure your leader is passionate about the area they lead. 2) Experience – ask for examples of their social marketing success.
If you have read through up to this point you are probably saying, wow, how am I going to find someone that has all that? You’re right. That is much to ask and there are very few that can fit the bill. And that is the exact point. Not many can really be a true leader for your social marketing, but if you want successful results, make sure you take time to find someone that can deliver what is required.
Make It Happen,
Full disclosure: having recently left the agency I was working at leading the social practice, I am currently searching for and pursuing my next leadership position.