"Hey, buddy, want to be our social media director?" It hasn't quite gotten to that point, but a hiring rush for social media directors is on, says Bill Ives on the "Portals and KM" blog. That's not surprising. With traditional PR firms on the defensive against social media outlets, managers are trying to get caught up.
Problem is, the job requirements aren't all that clear. Felix Gillette wrote in Bloomberg Businessweek recently that "Across the country, companies like Petco are going through a two-step process. First, they scramble to hire social media officers. Second, they figure out what it is, exactly, that social media officers do. Blending departments -- promotion and marketing, customer service and support -- and requiring the ability to be shameless boosters while maintaining a light, self-aware tone, the job category is experiencing a boomlet as companies try to keep up with the new media world. The chief social media officer may be supplanting the chief branding officer as the zaniest human resource innovation in memory."
The thing is, though, zany folks need not necessarily apply. What's needed, at least for starters, is the ability to do solid, old-fashioned communications planning. You know, with goals, objectives, strategies, tactics, and tools -- this last is where Twitter and Facebook, etc., appear in the melee.
Social media is so new as a communication speciality that it takes deliberate appraisal and understanding to know how to proceed, work that begins, like so much of good communications work, with listening and observing, then figuring out where an organization wants to head. The difference now is that folks are listening, commenting, and interacting while you're trying to be deliberate, but be focused anyway. Don't lose your organizational cool, but be ready to respond respectfully. Proceed, in other words, with all deliberate speed.
It's a new media landscape. (We're writing this as it's announced that The Philadelphia Inquirer will be auctioned off in Philly.) Enjoy the ride, but keep enough air in the tires.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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