This SMinOrgs News Digest focuses on the role of the Corporate Social Strategist. Using the Altimeter Group’s November 2010 research report as the foundation, it includes seven blog posts from social media thought leaders and early adopters who share their reflections on the study’s findings and the future of social media leadership in organizations.
Many thanks to Jeannette Paladino (Write Speak Sell) for being the guest editor for this News Digest. After reading Jeannette’s own blog post about this study, I asked her if she’d like to tackle the challenge of consolidating the reflections of others as well, and she graciously agreed. As you can see from the reflections we’ve included, we’re a long way from consensus on how social media leadership in organizations should be defined. -Courtney Hunt
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Last November Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group (a research-based advisory firm) published a research study entitled “The Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist.” According to Owyang, the Corporate Social Strategist is the“… business decision maker of social media programs — providing leadership, roadmap definition, innovation; and directly influencing the spending on technology vendors and service agencies.”
Among the study’s key findings:
- Almost 80 percent of those surveyed said their programs are not looking long term, and have existed for less than three years.
- The vast majority of Corporate Social Strategists report to Marketing or Corporate Communications
- Funding is limited, with more than 75% of companies reporting an annual spend of less than $500,000.
- There are five principal ways that companies organize the social media function.
- It’s uncertain whether the Corporate Social Strategist will achieve top management ranks in the next five years.
Owyang warns there are two career paths of the Corporate Social Strategist: be proactive and be a leader or become the social media help desk. Time will tell which path will win out in corporate America…
Given the stature of the Altimeter Group and Jeremiah’s reputation, as well as the importance of the topic itself, the report immediately garnered a lot of attention. Many social media thought leaders and early adopters commented on the findings, and Owyang included links to many of the reviews and critiques in a blog post that introduced the study and its results (including Jeannette Paladino’s own blog post about the study).
In this News Digest, we include Owyang’s original blog post on the study and embed his SlideShare presentation. We also include a recent reflection from Jeremiah about the role of the Corporate Social Strategist, as well as six critiques from individuals with differing viewpoints:
- A social media thought leader (Brian Solis)
- A social technology consultant (Jay Deragon)
- A social media software consultant (Gia Lyons)
- An agency executive who counsel clients on the use of social media (David Armano)
- A consultant with Booz Allen selling social media to clients (Steve Radick)
- The head of social media for Ford (Scott Monty)
We invite you to share your thoughts on the role of the Corporate Social Strategist as well – both now and in the future.
Categories: enterprise 2.0, human resources, leadership, marketing/branding/sales, research, strategy
For additional articles that address related issues, click on terms of interest in the category cloud on our website.
Source: Web Strategy
Author: Jeremiah Oywang
Lead Paragraph: This Social Media Decision Maker Must Choose One of Two Career Paths. This emerging role is critical to the success of social media programs yet, most Social Strategists and their programs lack maturity, with only 23% of Social Strategists having a formalized program with long-term direction. They are overwhelmed with six major challenges – with little relief in sight: Resistance from internal culture, Measuring ROI, Lack of resources, An ever-changing technology space, Resentment and envy of the role, and A looming increase in business demands. With demands just about to increase, they have two possible career paths: 1) Fall behind in requests from vocal customers and internal business units, thereby becoming reactive which we call the “Social Media Help Desk”, or 2) Develop a proactive program that gets ahead of the demands, and operate from a strategic planning position.
You can access both the full report and a presentation of the findings on SlideShare:
- Report: Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist: Be Proactive or Become Social Media Help Desk
- Presentation: Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist
Source: Web Strategy
Author: Jeremiah Oywang
Lead Paragraph: The following data and insights is just a subset from Altimeter’s recent in-depth report on the primary business decision maker in large corporations; please read the “Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist” (Open Research) first. You’ll find the report is filled with data around job titles, duration in role, department, responsibilities, challenges and aspirations. Next, you can see the actual list of these strategists segmented by industry, and then see how hiring has changed in the “On the Move” series. Many years ago, (now I sound old) I had this role at Hitachi, before Facebook and Twitter were viable options.
Brief Commentary from Jeannette Paladino: Oywang leads with education: all 50 LinkedIn profiles he visited of social strategists found they were college graduates, most with degrees that related to communications. Of the 140 corporate social strategists interviewed for the study, Owyang found that what made them successful at their jobs was the ability to be multi-dimensional and wear many hats (58%) followed closely by the willingness to take risks (46%).
My observation is that often the social strategist is a voice crying in the corporate wilderness. S/he operates in the face is skepticism, often with a limited budget and small staff. It hurts to say it, but because communications and marketing professionals dominate this role now, they may not get the respect and the funds they need and deserve. That’s because they are “below the line” expenses and not income producing. Even if they are the people creating campaigns that sell direct to the public, it is the business unit “customer” that gets the income. When brand managers take control of social media as s poweful spoke in the distribution channel, the situation will change for the better. This is the future according to Oywang and other commentators.
Source: Brian Solis
Author: Brian Solis
Lead Paragraph: In part one of Rethinking the Future of Business, we examined the state of social media in business. Once again, we take a look at a recent report published by Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang, “Career.” As part of a study on social media strategists and the divergent career paths that lie ahead, Owyang reviewed the social framework for socially renowned enterprise businesses as well as corresponding strategies and resources for 2011. The results say more than we may realize at first blush. Most importantly, we’re given a looking glass into the genesis of a next generation business that’s more sociably aware and responsible.
Brief Commentary from Jeannette Paladino: Solis thoughtfully describes the various management frameworks for social media. Almost half are still using the old spoke and wheel framework – that is a centralalized resource to support the business units. On the other hand, he quotes the study as finding, “that almost 11% of organizations are not yet structured around social media. Instead, social is decentralized and this sets the stage for chaos and brand dilution.”
I found this critique to be among the most thoughtful and comprehensive, offering Solis’s own view of the future of social media in organizations. I agree with Solis’s contention that in the future the brand will be the center of the hub supporting social media activities.
Solis describes his paradigm for the new social organization in this diagram:
The executive management team responsible for the direction of the brand is of course at the center. But now we’re adding a centralized hub for social excellence between executive layers and business units. This model empowers the existing management and execution roles within each division to introduce social elements as they apply to each unique circumstance while still centralizing the resources and intelligence necessary to guide stakeholders. This hub protects the company’s mission and purpose to ensure brand integrity in new media. And, this new resource center maintains best practices, sets policy and governance, introduces new methodologies and guidance, and also provides the training and technology necessary to achieve desirable outcomes.
Source: The Relationship Economy
Author: Jay Deragon
Lead Paragraph: Today’s social strategies are not strategies. The evidence of this is reflected in a recent Altimeter Research report which indicates that the #1 objective for corporate social strategist in 2011 is “website integration.” Is website integration a strategy?
Brief Commentary from Jeannette Paladino: Deragon sneers at the study’s goal for the strategist as website integration and he may have a point. He claims that “corporate leaders need to consider what the new social media paradigm means for organizational and business strategy before delegating a social strategy to people with no experience in thinking strategically.” Ouch. Why would corporate leaders do that in the first place? His claim will anger the marketing and communications directors who now have the primary responsibility for managing social media. They are strategic thinkers and have the MBAs to prove it. However, he goes off the rails himself when he claims, “the role of leadership is to think.” Most CEOs would claim their role is to create value for shareholders and ensure there is cash in the till every morning.
Author: Gia Lions
Lead Paragraph: In Community Managers Part 1: Definitions, I shared my observations about the different types of community managers – those primarily focused on executing ongoing practices, but didn’t spend too much time on the program roles …There is a third role which perhaps sits above these, called the Strategist. In reading Altimeter Group’s study, I’m struck by the many similarities between the Corporate Social (Media) Strategist and the Enterprise 2.0 Strategist, who is primarily focused on strategies for enabling employees and contractors to get work done better, faster, smarter.
Brief Commentary from Jeannette Paladino: In a blog post from 2008, Jeremiah Oywang described two new roles in organizations: the Social Computing Manager and the Community Manager. He filled the role of Community Manager at Hitachi and defines it as the manager whose job is to primarily be a community advocate, including customers. While the role of Community Manager still exists in organizations, my prediction is that over time the role and title will be subsumed into the role the Corporate Social Strategist.
Lions continues: “The three similarities that strike me most are the challenges they face, what makes them successful at their job, and their job responsibilities. However, there is one major difference, she says, “…the Enterprise 2.0 Strategist/program manager doesn’t seem to have a discrete budget or overall decision-making power.” She might be surprised to learn that in this early stage of social media many of the managers of these programs also do not have discrete budgets. They have the responsibility but not the authority to make decisions.
Source: Logic + Emotion
Author: David Armano
Lead Paragraph: Edelman colleague Steve Rubel and I were interviewed with a host of other active practitioners for Altimeter's latest report on the state of social strategists and to some degree social business in general. Here are a few findings that I thought were interesting as well as a few personal opinions that I have on the findings based on personal experience.
Brief Commentary from Jeannette Paladino: Armano and Rubel are senior vice presidents of global PR agency Edelman and respected social media authorities. Armano points out that social strategists currently come from a digital or marketing background. He predicts: “The next several waves will likely see professionals with mixed backgrounds ranging from customer service, to public relations to even HR. But I believe the common denominator will be a proficiency in human to human interaction vs. one way communication.”
Interestingly, Armano and Rubel conducted some research themselves. In their analysis of 50 LinkedIn profiles of current Social Strategists and job descriptions, they found that 96% were spending their time on using social media to “evangelize new initiatives.” To me, this is an exciting use of social media to engage employees in mobilizing around innovation and new ways of doing things. Social media can be a powerful engine in creating communities within organizations centered on a common goal.
Source: Social Media Strategery
Author: Steve Radick
Lead Paragraph: Not surprisingly, Jeremiah Owyang and the Altimeter Group have put together yet another thought-provoking report chock full of statistics, research, and stories – “The Two Career Paths of the Corporate Social Media Strategist. Be Proactive or Become Social Media Help Desk. As I clicked through the report, I found that I couldn’t put it down – it did a fantastic job of putting into words some of the things that I, and many of my #gov20 counterparts have been talking about, not on the conference stages, but in the hallways of events like Gov 2.0 Summit and Gov 2.0 Expo.
Brief Commentary from Jeannette Paladino: Radick is one of the leads for the consulting firm Booz Allen’s social media/Government 2.0 practice, working with clients across the public sector to integrate social media strategies and tactics into their organizational strategies. I chose this critique because he is actually selling social media to clients. It was enlightening to read the comments of someone working with clients on social media. One of his challenges is to turn this “start-up” into a scalable business for the rest of his firm. He emphasizes, “The biggest reason for my team’s success isn’t our social media skills, but our willingness to take risks and rally stakeholders from across the organization.”
Every company needs an evangelist for new ideas and initiatives. Radick and his team are rallying internal stakeholders using social media as the magnet. He’s trying to prove that selling social media services can make money for the organization. There is still a lot of resistance to new ways of doing things. But once profit centers discover social media sells they will be hopping on board the gravy train.
Source: The Social Media Marketing Blog
Author: Scott Monty
Lead Paragraph: Few people understand the constant pressure that the corporate social strategist is faced with. On any given day, the pressure can include internal challenges such as culture change, demands on proving the worth of programs, program development and execution, vague understanding of the role by some colleagues, the necessity of integrating the function throughout the enterprise, as well as external demands such as interview requests and a constant barrage of questions via email, Facebook and Twitter.
Brief Commentary from Jeannette Paladino: We included this critique by Scott Monty because he’s head of social media for Ford Motor Company. What he says about the role is worth repeating here: “The role is clearly evolving and is one that many companies, small and large, are currently filling. I was lucky enough to be selected to fill the role of global digital & multimedia communications manager (aka head of social media) for Ford Motor Company in July of 2008, and I've witnessed much of the above - and more - in my role. We're definitely at a crossroads in terms of the maturity and evolution of the function, particularly in integrating this nascent field into more business processes and making it live beyond the realm of just a handful of people within the organization.”
The purpose of these News Digests is to provoke comment. We ended with Scott Monty’s experience because he’s in the hot seat. He’s living the role of the Corporate Social Strategist every day and he says it isn’t easy. If you fill this role in your company, please comment about your experiences. Where are you in the organization: part of marketing, human resources, in a business unit? Who do you report to? How hard is it to change the culture to accept social media as a proven business strategy?
The role of the Corporarte Social Strategist is evolving – not slowly but swiftly. Top decision makers in many companies are still skeptical. They are comfortable with the way things have always been done. Those of us in the thick of social media know the revolution is here. Where do you think social media is headed in organizations? Will it be brand driven? Will it continue to be centralized in one functional area such as marketing or communications?
Please let us have your comments on the role of the social strategist now – and in the future.