Wanted: Professional yet personable risk taker with a knack for engaging with strangers and the ability to ooze charisma and charm via the written word while adhering to brand guidelines. Strong communicator, adept analyst, skilled promoter and experienced policy maker. Oh, and intimate knowledge of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, MySpace, Pinterest and Tumblr is required. (It'd help if you can blog, too.)
Let's be honest, when we hire a social strategist, we want that person to be everything for everybody. It's a new position in most companies and hasn't been succinctly and accurately defined in most cases. PR and marketing play tug-of-war with this position, both vying to get this highly valuable person on their team. Meanwhile, HR, Product Development, Customer Service and Legal are all invested because this position touches all of their departments.
So what's a social strategist to do? This ever-expanding position engages with so many people and on so many levels of the company, it's almost overwhelming.
In a nutshell, a social media strategist must wear a lot of hats. This position is basically about cultivating the relationships between a business and its customers online. But it's much more than just posting on Facebook or Twitter. He or she needs to be able to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities and multitask like a mother (literally). Look at it this way-if you've had a challenge with integrated marketing, this job is not for you. It's beyond integrated and crosses over many lines of business.
Here are five important roles of a social media strategist:
Risk-taker. Social media is all about innovation, so the ability to take calculated risks is essential. Most social strategists have a degree in marketing/communications, and many have some seniority in the company. This person is responsible for speaking to the public about your company and maintaining the brand, all within the realm of constant changes in technology and evolving networks. The challenge is to remain personable, consistent and engaging. Without those elements in communication, the social media strategy fails.
Relationship builder. The beauty of social media is that it's the perfect arena for building relationships with customers short of flying them to your office. It's where your company can form a bond with consumers through conversation on a number of appropriate topics. The danger is that these relationships can become strained, flat or negative, depending on who is at the helm of your social strategy. Your strategist must be able build and maintain positive relationships with strangers. Not an easy task.
Evangelist.Can your social strategist get people to drink your company's Kool-Aid? Do they have what it takes to get consumers on your side and fall in love with your brand? They need to be able to speak about your company or product with passion and authenticity. If your strategist is not an evangelist, you need to find one who has what it takes to be engaging.
Policy maker. Without rules and guidelines, you can't move forward. Every company needs to have communication standards that allow for authenticity with boundaries. You want your social strategist to be real and personable, but not without constraints and necessary brand guidelines that adhere to company policies and procedures. In other words, you need a strategist who can engage with limits and evangelize within brand boundaries.
Analytics. Bottom line-without analytics, you can't prove that any of this works. So, in addition to the previous four roles, your social media strategist must have a knack for analysis, as well. I think what makes this position so interesting is that you can measure the impact and tie together all the programs, customer service models, employee communication, and research into one plan that helps drive efforts across the board.
Key takeaway: Buy a lot of hats. You're going to need them all for your social media strategist to wear because he or she plays a key, multi-functional role in your company that should never be underestimated.