Monday, March 22, 2010

Social Media Roles

It seems that almost every week a new Social Media Expert or Guru springs up to offer us their superior knowledge and ability. They selflessly put themselves forward to fix all our Social Media woes, and ask for nothing in return except a giant fee. Thankfully these charlatans and would be hucksters are invariably easy to spot and quickly outed as what they truly are. The most annoying thing about these "Twitter Kings" and "Dr.s of Social Media" is that they tear down the good work being done by people across the digital landscape.

So what of the folk out there that aren't pushing themselves as an Expert or Guru? What of the people who offer their advice or genuine expertise to those who want it. These people do exist, and they can help your business, but the difficulty is realising who they are and what they can do for you. I started considering some of the people that I know personally and what they are great at, what they can offer businesses. I realised quickly that there are several different distinct roles that exist within the Social Media Sphere, and while a person may cross over several of these roles, there is ultimately no such thing as a single Social Media Expert who can single handedly tick all boxes and requirements. So here's an initial list of Social Media Roles:

Social Media Instructor
This is the person who has the ability to sit down with anyone; explain what Social Media is, why they should be using it, how to best use it and what the benefits are. This person knows how to use the various different Social Media tools on the market and keeps abreast of all the latest developments in the Social Media Sphere. As with any teacher or lecturer, however, this is the role that is the hardest to learn - teaching comes naturally and the best instructors have an ability that can't be learned or faked.

Conference Speaker
In my opinion the Conference Speaker is essentially the same as the Instructor but where the Instructor may not have the ability to stand up and speak in front of large crowds, the Conference Speaker does. Similarly, the Conference Speaker may find themselves unable to sit down and create meaningful one-to-one communications. Beyond this though, both roles are almost identical with the Conference Speaker being just as versed in the cutting edge of Social Media as their counterpart. They know what Social Media can do and how to use it best. Most importantly they can also put this into captivating and engaging presentations.

Content Manager
At the heart of all Social Media is content. Fresh, engaging and unique content. The Content Manager both creates and curates, and ultimately drives Social Media. They may have the most important social media role of all, and with an ever escalating amount of new data and content being created everyday, their role will become ever more important. They will be the people who streamline online content into manageable categories for user consumption. They will be essential to the prevention of data overload.

Event Organiser
Summits, Seminars, Streetups, Tweetups and Conferences; the Event Organiser provides the key role of facilitating the offline interactions that create the content for our various Social Media channels.

Community Manager
In the last 12 months every major Social Media Platform has created Community Manager roles. These are the people who drive conversation and interaction between brands/businesses and the public. They provide the voice of these organisations and will most likely be a natural networker and "people person". They understand how to communicate personally with their users and facilitate the organic development of brand ambassadors - users who will promote the brand/business on their own.

Marketing Consultant
Finally there's the Marketing Consultant. This is the person who understands what Social Media can do for an integrated marketing programme, and how to use it effectively to achieve strategic marketing objectives. A Marketing Consultant will understand how to use Social Media in coordination with the full modern digital marketing mix; driving heighten interaction and engagement rates with online display advertising, Social Media advertising, Search Engine Optimisation, Digital PR and Pay Per Click Advertising.

These are the 6 Social Media roles that I see in the Social Media Sphere, but it is very much an initial list and I would envision it changing and possibly growing as Social Media matures and develops. If there are any glaring absences here please feel free to let me know. I'd be very interested to know what roles other people see.


Nick McGivney said...

I'd see a lot of your categories as organisational ones, Christian, and I would agree that the field is only going to grow. A broad working knowledge of soc media in general will lead to broad categories, but as the media become more refined, so too will your categories. Content manager, for instance, where I'd probably most practically place myself, is a very wide catch-all. I'd expect that someone who's really, really good at content-managing a YouTube account might not necessarily be a brilliant tweeter, and vice versa. Lisa Nova is superb with the quality of her YouTube content, and Joshua Allen (@fireland) is a very funny tweeter. Specialists, in other words. Steve Troughton Smith is an absolute wizz with iPhone apps. And next week it'll all be different! No issue with your terms generally speaking, but as digital expertise goes, they're definitely going to need sub-categories, I think...

Christian Hughes said...

Hey Nick - I'd have to agree with you, very good points. This is exactly what I was hoping for - good direction to take this to the next level. My aim is to develop a really comprehensive array of the skills and roles that Social Media needs to be successful. I think there is a definite lack of understanding in business as to what is needed to achieve the objectives that are set and, for this reason, so many "experts" offering catch-all services and are able to sell their snake oil to the unsuspecting. Cheers dude :)

topgold said...

I'm interested in the common tools and the lexicon needed by each of those specialists that you cite in your post. You learn to work cleverly with tools that you can often use as you change job titles. Several specialised social media tools would be essential if you're going to nurture an effective conversational presence.