The Two Skills Required of Social Media Managers in Organizations

Companies have tons of employees who are Social Media Experts and tons of managers who are Masters at Leadership Influence.  However, rarely are the two skills possessed by a single employee.

Companies should encourage leaders to actively participate in Social Media to “Learn By Doing”, or develop younger talent who have Social Media skills into better management influencers.

Greg Matthews (@chimoose) from Humana tipped me to this in a tweet that read: “Have read this 3x. It’s that good. @katfrench on Social Media Pros: Where Do We Go from Here?

So, I’ve also read this three times and can’t stop thinking about it’s impact on organizations.  I particularly liked this excerpt:

On one side, you’ve got a vision of social media as a way of making business communication more human and more effective, while making the bottom-line results more measurable. In that vision, social media is integrated fully into existing business disciplines. It’s obsolete as a specialization in itself.


On the other side, you’ve got the day-to-day life of someone paid to help clients use social media tools to their advantage—within their comfort zone, within their restrictions, and within their existing business paradigms.


The distance between the two, on some days, seems like an enormous gaping canyon.

It goes back to what I think is the biggest obstacle in adoption, skill set.  Making Social Media work requires two critical skills:

  1. Social Media Expertise – Laugh all you want, but you have to know the territory.  Practicioners need to have the skills that come from “learning by doing” rather than “learning by reading Mashable”
  2. Leadership Influence – The ability to change the minds of senior leaders by showing “What’s In It For Them”.  Keep in mind that leaders have major financial incentives tied to business performance metrics and because 2.0 is still so new (relatively speaking), it’s hard to see how implementing radical change will affect year end bonus.  This means you need a skilled influencer to convince leadership of adopting technologies.

While most organizations have employees that posess these skills, rarely do the two overlap…which I think might be the problem.  We need experts that can influence.  We need influencers who are very active in social media.

How do we bridge that gap? Is it training?  Is it “stretch promotions”?

Is it a function of age?  I.e. Younger employees are the experts, senior employees have the political skills.

Posted on July 16, 2009 at 9:11 am by Ben Foster · Permalink
In: Career, Leadership and Management

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments via RSS

  1. Written by KatFrench
    on July 16, 2009 at 2:31 pm
    Permalink

    I'm glad you liked the post, Ben. I think that the ability to articulate the value of social media clearly is probably contingent on the experiential understanding of #1 and the business knowledge and maturity of #2. Good stuff!

  2. Written by KatFrench
    on July 16, 2009 at 8:31 pm
    Permalink

    I'm glad you liked the post, Ben. I think that the ability to articulate the value of social media clearly is probably contingent on the experiential understanding of #1 and the business knowledge and maturity of #2. Good stuff!

Subscribe to comments via RSS

Leave a Reply