Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives

Who leads your organization’s social media initiatives? Is it someone who rose up and took the role or is is someone who was assigned that role?

Social media isn’t something that can just be assigned to someone any more than you can just assign someone to be the homecoming king. Adding “social media” to that junior public affairs officer’s job description isn’t suddenly going to turn your organization into the next Zappo’s. While you’re at it, you might as well add “organizational budgeting” and “legal review” to his job description too – those are two other things that he/she might be able to do well, but would you really entrust those duties to them?

This is why so many social media initiatives fail – not because of technology or policy, but because of people.  We talk often about what department should lead social media, how to get leadership buy-in for social media, or what technology should be used, and while those are important discussions to have, you should be focused on identifying WHO should be leading the social media initiatives.  Not whether that’s the Chief Marketing Officer or the Director of Public Affairs or the Community Relations Lead, but actual names of people.  Remember, social media is driven by the person, not the position.

The best person right now might be Joe over in Marketing, but what if Joe leaves the organization?  Who leads the social media initiatives then?  The answer isn’t necessarily Joe’s replacement.  It might be Kim over in HR. It might be that new guy over in community relations, or maybe it’s your webmaster.  The point is that social media doesn’t fit nicely into just one job description.  There’s a very real human element to it, and identifying the wrong person, even if it is the right position is often the biggest determination in the success or failure of your social media initiatives.

To find the right person to handle social media for your organization, look for people who:

  • LOVE your organization and really understand its mission – first and foremost, find the people who love their jobs and believe in your mission. This isn’t a job for the person interested in just the paycheck.
  • Believe in the transformative power of social media – it’s not about applying the same old processes to new tools. It’s about fundamentally transforming the way your organization interacts with the public, your customers and with each other.
  • You enjoy being around – If a person is a real butthead in real-life, he’s going to be that way online too, and you can’t afford to have someone like that representing you or your organization
  • Have little fear of failure – Early in my career, a client pulled me aside after they shot down 3 straight ideas I had and told me, “I want to make sure that you understand we WANT you to continue bringing those off-the-wall ideas because it forces us to think of things we never thought of and even if we don’t take your suggestions now, they all become building blocks for future ideas.”
  • Enjoy working in teams – Social media is “social” – you have to enjoy working with a diverse group of people
  • Are responsive – There is no 24 hour news cycle any more. It’s real-time baby. You need people who you KNOW will reply to emails, tweets, texts, etc. quickly and thoroughly. Interestingly, these are also often the people who are the most ambitious and passionate about your organization too.  (*note – these are also the people who may take longer lunches or come in a little late because they don’t just “shut off” at 5:00 PM)
  • Can speak like a human being – Corporate marketing speak, statistics, facts, and figures are good, but when was the last time you got inspired by a pie chart? Find people who can connect with their colleagues/customers/clients on a personal level
  • Are very aware of their strengths and weaknesses and are open about them – One of the first things I tell new employees is to find out what you’re good at and find out what you’re not good at, and then find people who are good at those things and make friends with them. In social media, you’re going to come across issues regarding privacy, IT, legal, communications, and HR, not to mention specific functional areas of your organization. You can’t know it all – know what you don’t know, and know who to contact for help.
  • Are humble -People mess up in social media. A lot.  It’s ok.  Admit you’re wrong, fix what you messed up and move on. Not everyone can do this, and very few can do it well.

Now that I think about it,these are many of the same qualities that exist in any leader, right?  So, what other qualities would you look for when trying to identify someone to head up a social media initiative?

This post was inspired by Andrew Wilson’s “Innovation Lab | Who Should Be At The Table” post and Lovisa Williams’ “The Intersection” post. Fantastic stuff (as usual) by the both of them.

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About sradick

I'm Vice President, Director of Public Relations at Brunner in Pittsburgh. Find out more about me here (http://steveradick.com/about/).

View all posts by sradick

202 Responses to “Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives”

  1. AdrienneRehm (Adrienne Rehm) Says:

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    Great article and worth reading! RT @LynseyRoumell Identify the right people to manage your social media initiatives: [link to post]

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  2. EBauerMarketing (Eric Bauer Marketing) Says:

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    This is a good read… who is heading up your Social Marketing effort?… [link to post]

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  3. RickYuzzi (Rick Yuzzi) Says:

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    Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives ~ [link to post]

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  4. Alberto24_7 (Alberto Perez) Says:

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    RT @juliamak: Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post]

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  5. Paul_Pruneau (Paul Pruneau) Says:

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    Social media fails in an org because of people. Not because of technology or policy. [link to post]

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  6. LynseyRoumell (Lynsey Roumell) Says:

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    Identify the right people to manage your social media initiatives: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  7. denisethayer (Denise Thayer) Says:

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    RT @HMSads: The 9 traits of a successful social-media manager:… [link to post]

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  8. mel_mayhem (Melissa May) Says:

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    Love this article! Right on. RT @sradick Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post]

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  9. SheofDC (Elizabeth Hochberg) Says:

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    RT @sradick Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post]. Fed agencies – pay attention!

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  10. MMIHouston (Marion Montgomery) Says:

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    How to spot the right people to manage your social media initiatives: [link to post] (via @cheeky_geeky)

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  11. BlogDudes (Jasper Blake) Says:

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    RT @sradick Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post] Its Daniel Pink’s R-brained thinkers!

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  12. topbrokeroc (Bob Watson) Says:

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    Excellent post. Who’s handling yours? RT @AmberCadabra Identify the Right People to Mng Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post]

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  13. RSWUS (RSW US) Says:

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    RT @MMIHouston: How to spot the right people to manage your social media initiatives: [link to post] (via @cheeky_geeky)

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  14. LpoolChamber (Liverpool Chamber ) Says:

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    Nine traits of a good social media manager. I probably have about two and a half: [link to post]

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  15. marydpadilla (Mary D. Padilla) Says:

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    RT @sradick Identify Right People 2 Manage Your Social Media [link to post] Posted using Chat Catcher

  16. jodykoehler (Jody Koehler) Says:

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    Nice read ‘Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives’ [link to post]

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  17. SMCLiverpool (SMC Liverpool) Says:

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    RT @m8nd1: RT @LpoolChamber: Nine traits of a good social media manager. [link to post] @m8nd1 @leoappleton

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  18. m8nd1 (Mandy Phillips) Says:

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    RT @LpoolChamber: Nine traits of a good social media manager. [link to post] @m8nd1 @leoappleton

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  19. emcardenas (Emma Cardenas) Says:

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    RT @brett: Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post] (via @sradick)

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  20. socialmedia247 (socialmedia247) Says:

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    RT @brett: Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post] (via… http://bit.ly/ddnMMC #socialmedia

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  21. rebeccawyatt (rebeccawyatt) Says:

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    Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post] (via @sradick)

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  22. sarah_gore (Sarah Gore) Says:

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    The people person. RT @AmberCadabra: RT @sradick Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post]

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  23. IACCE (IACCE) Says:

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    RT @LpoolChamber: Nine traits of a good social media manager. I probably have about two and a half: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  24. nolaschott (Alex Schott) Says:

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    Nine traits of a successful social media manager: [link to post]

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  25. MikeCassidy Says:

    Great post Steve.
    “…so many social media initiatives fail – not because of technology or policy, but because of people.” That statement speaks the truth! Right people and in the right seat. Many thanks for your insight.

  26. WebExecutives (Ken Herron) Says:

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    HOW TO: Pick your social media chief ([link to post] /@sradick).

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  27. palmerreuther (palmerreuther) Says:

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    RT @misswetapatel Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post] #socialmedia #smo #sm

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  28. misswetapatel (Sweta Patel) Says:

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    Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post] #socialmedia #smo #sm

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  29. jamkim (James Kim) Says:

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    RT @WebExecutives: HOW TO: Pick your social media chief ([link to post] /@sradick). – find the right person, don’t just assign it #yam

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  30. Aaron_VH (Aaron Van Holland) Says:

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    Social media is driven by the person, not the position. [link to post]

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  31. BRLANewsGirl (BRLANewsGirl) Says:

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    Good read RT @brsocme: Lots of #BatonRouge Biz hiring #socialmedia managers! Here’s a good resource on what to look for [link to post]

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  32. Mark Drapeau Says:

    I am often inspired by corporate pie charts. They're really motivating. And no one is standing behind me in my office, making me type this.

  33. Anika143 Says:

    Gotta love being a Maven!

  34. carloslonegt (carloslonegt) Says:

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    RT @tobyrichards: RT @sradick Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  35. wagnerwrites (Claire Wagner) Says:

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    Driven by people not positions: RT @sradick Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  36. wired_crow (Renee C.) Says:

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    RT @jamkim: RT @WebExecutives: HOW TO: Pick your social media chief ([link to post] /@sradick). – find the right person, don’t just assi

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  37. Sradick Says:

    Somehow I'm not surprised that you'd like pie charts – personally though, I'm a much bigger fan of just pie 🙂

  38. bradhuss (Brad Huss) Says:

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    Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives : [link to post]

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  39. Stefan63 Says:

    Great posting … I would only add: Give him/her/them the time to engage and award it. Billable hours and reporting is not everything. Social Media is going to chance and is already changing the game – in B2C and in B2B. Although some people are sleeping and are still thinking advertising, print, TV …

    Allow and promote evangelist of your company, brand and products. Train and educate them. (And call them evangelists. Think multi-cultural). Ambassadors might be the better term ?!

    http://digitalnaiv.com/identify-the-right-peopl

  40. erinmkelly (Erin M. Kelly) Says:

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    All about the people. RT @AmberCadabra RT @sradick Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post]

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  41. AmberNaslund Says:

    Steve –

    Well done. I do agree that you have to find and harness the right people for the job, and in my mind, that means a focus on attributes and characteristics more so than specific job titles or skill sets. You've outlined that well here!

    I'd add diplomacy to the list. So often social media and community pros need to be building and presenting a business case as well as educating others, both internally and externally. You can't just have someone that thinks they know it all; they've got to be willing to learn, teach, and explore as well.

    thanks for sharing!

    Best,
    Amber Naslund
    Radian6

  42. Alex Priest Says:

    The kicker: “The point is that social media doesn’t fit nicely into just one job description.”

    It's true. Social media isn't a JOB. And it's not a career or an assignment, either. It's a mindset, and it's one that–right now–some people get and some people don't. There are some people out there who are naturally social, who fit the criteria you've outlined here. And there's plenty who have the right mindset, but are in the wrong place for it (and vice versa).

    It's all about bringing the right combination of factors–the ones you've listed and no doubt myriad others–together to make it happen. That's why so few brands/companies/organizations have really *gotten* social media yet.

    You rock, Steve, keep it up!

    ———-
    alexpriest.com // @alexpriest

  43. ElzbthMllr (Elizabeth R. Miller) Says:

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    Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post] (via @erinmkelly)

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  44. Lauren Says:

    Totally agree! The people behind the strategy make all the difference.

    Great post!

    Lauren Friedman
    Community Genius
    Context Optional
    http://contextoptional.com

  45. Daniel Stoica Says:

    Love this: “Can speak like a human being”

    Awesome Post!

    Thank You for Sharing!

  46. weisesarah (Sarah Weise) Says:

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    RT @steveradick: How to ID the right folks to manage your social media strategy: [link to post]

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  47. Shannon Y. Says:

    Steve,

    This is a GREAT post and SO incredibly true!! I amazed at how many people still think Social Media is for the individuals that are not social. It's amazing! 🙂

    Thanks again for this!! Enjoyed reading it!

    Shannon

  48. metalsilvae (Razvan Bucur) Says:

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    RT @AmberCadabra: RT @sradick Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post]

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  1. Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives | Social Media Strategery « Digital Naiv – Stefan63's Blog -

    […] Are humble -People mess up in social media. A lot.  It’s ok.  Admit you’re wrong, fix what you messed up and move on. Not everyone can do this, and very few can do it well. via steveradick.com […]

  2. Living the future » Blog Archive » Wie man die richtigen Leute für eine Social Media Strategie findet -

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