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. Elliottmarkc (Mark Elliott) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    RT @UsefulArts A few traits to keep in mind when picking who will lead #social media for your firm. (hint: generosity) [link to post]

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  2. socialworkplace (The Social Workplace) Says:

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

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  3. Sradick Says:

    @Gwynne That's my point – if Jeffrey won the lotto and left EPA, who's to say that the person who replaces Jeffrey in that position would be the best person to handle the social media duties. In a pure social media position, this may work, but if, like it is in a majority of organizations, social media is NOT the only thing that person is doing, you're going to run into all sorts of problems if you try to say that just because Jeffrey did his job AND social media that the next guy is responsible for that too.

    You're absolutely right that an organization should put these qualities into a job req and make a good hire. The problem comes about when you're trying to hire people who aren't pure-play social media people. Just because that webmaster happened to thrust himself into the role of primary social media leader at your org doesn't mean his replacement has to do the same thing. Maybe he/she just wants to be a webmaster, and that guy in public affairs will pick up the lead on the social media stuff.

    I think we're actually in agreement on this issue – I'm talking more about the soft side of identifying the leaders in an org, and you're talking more about the hard management of ensuring the long-term viability of this. I think both perspectives are necessary – we need a balance of qualifications and experience and personality and leadership.

  4. Bryan Bliss Says:

    though initially i think this post sounds all good, nice and right but doesent this kind of exclude the majority of government workers?
    Really How many government workers do you know that are truly passionate and exciting about their job and the mission of their organization?
    having the skills to relate to people, develop rapport is indeed important but building relationships and connections isnt always about being polly anna friends with everybody.
    its not as much about a popularity contest as it is having integrity and being as forthright and solution driven as is practical.
    I disagree that being instantaneously available and responsive is that critically important as long as peoples expectations are not set too high.
    its probably easier to reply to posts only a few times a week if there isnt a history of instant gratification that just stops leaving people feeling ignored.
    Some people actually accept and expect that their professionals in government and business are too busy and too professional to spend all their time twittering away in cheery conversation.
    It might even look bad of an organization is TOO available, especially if they are funded by tax dollars, people may think the govt employees are just wasting their days on facebook instead of you know, actually working.

  5. Sradick Says:

    Wow – you have a pretty pessimistic view of your government, don't you? Have you worked with the federal government much? I know a LOT of civil servants who are truly passionate and excited about their job and their organization's mission. That's the reason most of them took those jobs – it surely wasn't for the pay or the easy commute :).

    I'm not suggesting that people have to be instantaneously available – I'm simply saying that you should look for people who aren't just butts in seats from 9-5. Social media doesn't turn off at 5:00 – you need people who are engaged and aware of what's going on all the time. Do you have to respond to every post? Of course not. But you do have to be aware and ready to do something if something happens at 10:00 at night.

    And your point about people “wasting their days on Facebook instead of actually working” is EXACTLY the type of mentality that we're trying to break. Why does it matter if people are responding to the public on Facebook or on the phone? Facebook IS work for a lot of people now.

  6. David Christopher Says:

    Great post Steve. Social Media is about People not the technology. Technology enables the social media strategy, it shouldn't define it.

    I would also add a couple more to your list:

    “Being creative”
    Too many people try to explain social media using traditional means (100's PowerPoint slides [snooze], pie charts etc….) instead of finding creative ways of getting the point across. Storytelling is a powerful communication method which was highly under-rated but of which we are now seeing more of more in the form of slideshare and videos. Be different. Be original. Be remembered.

    “Understanding the need for an internal social media strategy”
    It's ok developing a great social media strategy to create new leads and opportunities, but you need to be able to react quickly and that means distributing those leads and opportunities quickly and to the right people in your organisation. Creating a better socially connected organisation (i.e. The Social Workplace) is going to create an infrastructure to support your social media initiatives.

  7. seidld (DianaSdeMouraStewart) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    RT @agentsofgood: RT @keenanwellar: This is a timely article about “who should manager your social media” [link to post] #nptalk

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  8. seidld (DianaSdeMouraStewart) Says:

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    “who should manage your social media” [link to post] #nptalk- THIS IS SO TRUE @annagolding @childrens_trust

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  9. annagolding (Anna Golding) Says:

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    SPOT ON!! RT @seidld: “who should manage your social media” [link to post] #nptalk- THIS IS SO TRUE @annagolding @childrens_trust

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  10. CalvertTrust (Janet Stollery) Says:

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    RT @annagolding: SPOT ON!! RT @seidld: “who should manage your social media” [link to post] #nptalk- THIS IS SO TRUE @annagolding …

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  11. childrens_trust (The Childrens Trust) Says:

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    RT @annagolding: SPOT ON!! RT @seidld: “who should manage your social media” [link to post] #nptalk- THIS IS SO TRUE @annagolding @chi

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  12. rachelbeer (Rachel Beer) Says:

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    Good advice & use of the word ‘butthead’. I like 🙂 ‘Who should manage your social media?’ [link to post] #nptalk via @annagolding

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  13. socialmedia_jpn (Social Media Lab) Says:

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    Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives | Social Media Strategery [link to post] #socialnetworking

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  14. seidld (DianaSdeMouraStewart) Says:

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    @julesinshort – check this: “who should manage your social media” [link to post] #nptalk – food for thought re soc media

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  15. StephanieRice (Stephanie Rice) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    Love this! @AdrienneRehm @LynseyRoumell Identify the right people to manage your social media initiatives: [link to post]

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  16. Liz2586 (Elizabeth Mee) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    What makes a social media manager superhoero? here are 9 traits [link to post] #practicalmktr (via CBWhittemore)

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  17. CBWhittemore (CB Whittemore) Says:

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    What makes a social media manager superhoero? here are 9 traits [link to post] #practicalmktr

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  18. AndrewPWilson (Andrew Wilson) Says:

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    Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives – GREAT advice from @sradick [link to post]

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  19. mjmclean (Martha McLean) Says:

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    Bureacracy 2.0 #governance @RT @AndrewPWilson: Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post]

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  20. cdorobek (cdorobek) Says:

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    RT @AndrewPWilson: Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives – GREAT advice from @sradick [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  21. amandare (Amanda Eamich ?) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    Reading: rt @AndrewPWilson: ID the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives – GREAT advice from @sradick [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  22. opengov20 (opengov20) Says:

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

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  23. sradick (Steve Radick) Says:

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    Thanks! RT @AndrewPWilson: Identify the Right People to Manage Social Media Initiatives – GREAT advice from @sradick [link to post]

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  24. jmetzge1 (Jason Metzger) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    Are you wondering who should manage the Social Media initiatives in your agency?
    Read this for some tips on identifyin…[link to post]

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  25. GGFM (Gards F) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    9 Qualities the right person to handle social media for your organization should have [link to post]

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  26. RobinBertelsen (Robin Bertelsen) Says:

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    Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post] (so important! And so often overlooked)

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  27. ASAPHQ (ASAP) Says:

    Twitter Comment


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

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  28. andresnin (Andrés Nin) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    Not everybody is a good #socialmedia project manager. Some hints to identify the right one [link to post]

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  29. Mbt shoes sale Says:

    good

  30. jrick (Jonathan Rick) Says:

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    Reading: Identify the Right People to Manage Your Social Media Initiatives – Steve Radick, Social Media Strategery… [link to post]

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  31. SavvyButterfly (Ann Tran) Says:

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    RT @Christinekorda: Not a job 4 a “Guru” – Identify the Right People 2 Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post] via @ad …

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  32. sradick (Steve Radick) Says:

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    RT @Christinekorda: Not a job 4 a “Guru” – Identify the Right People 2 Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post] via @addthi

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  33. Christinekorda (Women Social Media) Says:

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    Not a job 4 a “Guru” – Identify the Right People 2 Manage Your Social Media Initiatives [link to post] via @addthis #sm #socialmedia

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  34. Ron Thompson Says:

    Great Article post for Social Media Steve. It takes a special person with a passion to help others get to their goals to make the Social Media Marketing work correctly.

    Appreciate the post

  35. Discount Timberland uk Says:

    cool.nice post

  36. sneakers jordan Says:

    that’s really great news
    i never heard it before
    nice post
    look forward your new posts

  37. JoannaDanielle (Joanna Brenner) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    Who is running your org’s social media platforms? [link to post]

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  38. The Virtual Meeting Coach Says:

    What honest, clear advice, Steve!

    And solopreneurs and small business owners (who don’t have someone to assign social media to) need to heed this, too. When any of us has our “social media hat” on, we need to bring up these parts of ourselves and let them run our participation.

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