By Bob Mason (@BobMasonPalio)
Social media is one of the biggest shifts in modern business. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, Wikis and more have created new opportunities for businesses to interact and learn about their customers, prospects, competitors and even their own employees. Twitter alone boasts 50 million Tweets each day thats 600 per second.
To support social initiatives, many organizations rely on their in-house public relations or marketing staff. However, this new form of media requires some specific knowledge and skills and internal training and development may not be available. With social media becoming a prominent fixture on the business landscape, many organizations are creating a new role to support community and brand building: social media strategist. A social media strategist is responsible for educating customers and developing strategies for how to best use new technology for marketing, communications and customer support.
A social media strategist will have the skills to guide the organization in exploring new methods for listening to and interacting with the community at large: customers, analysts, investors, employees. Today, the world is both audience and focus group. Savvy social media strategists are familiar with tools and techniques to learn about customer preferences and understand how to interact with the target audience across multiple social media platforms.
Effective use of social media starts with having a social media strategy. Is LinkedIn the right place to reach your target audience? Are they tweeting on a regular basis? A social media strategist will identify where you should be by first understanding where your audience is participating. For example, right now there are millions of profiles on LinkedIn. Your social media strategist will identify individual connections as well as groups your organization should participate in. Theyll also have insight into each groups own proper etiquette for participating. A social media strategist should also know how to set up groups, moderate them and build participation.
At the heart of many organizations social strategy is the corporate blog. According to the latest count from Technorati, there are 112.8 million blogs with new ones popping up daily. A social media strategist is not only responsible for creating and managing content for the corporate blog, but also monitoring, and when appropriate, responding to comments from readers. They also need to monitor other bloggers to acquire competitive information and identify prominent or influential bloggers. Using tools such as whostalkin.com and Google alerts are helpful in keeping apprised of activity in the blogosphere.
Because the role of social media strategist is so new, many organizations are struggling with defining the necessary skill set and job requirements. A strong social media strategist should:
- Recommend, implement and manage social network policies and procedures
- Determine which social media tools are right for your objectives
- Be able to live stream from a conference or moderate a tweet chat
- Have an understanding of various technology and tools such as HootSuite and hashtags
- Know how to use Twitter from a mobile device; upload videos to Vimeo and YouTube and add photos to Flickr
- Have solid writing skills to create blog posts and excellent communication skills to respond in real-time to customers, prospects, other bloggers, etc.
- Create tags for content to align keywords with the companys Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy
- Use “chicklets to encourage readers to share content with their own networks
The role of a social media strategist is dynamic. Like other forms of media, theyll create an editorial calendar or publishing schedule to serve as a framework for disseminating information on the company blog. From there, theyll want to promote thought leadership through Twitter. However, its more than just serving up the information. Using social media such as Twitter and Facebook posts can add depth to content and get customers and employees more plugged into the community. Beyond posting and tweeting, the social media strategist will spend time working with a brand monitoring solution to discover all the places that the company needs to monitor or participate. Theyll also work internally with employees, the sales force and customers to help share insights and strengthen relationships.
In todays increasingly social world, having a social media strategist on staff is no longer a nice-to-have its essential. By taking a disciplined approach to social communication, companies can take advantage of social media to ultimately build their brand and business.