The evolution of the social media manager: it's not about using the tools--it's about using them right.

Author:Holtz, Shel
Position:Tech talk

Is there still a place for the social media manager?

Many observers insist that the era of the social media manager is over because social media are now part of everyone's job. That may be a stretch for many organizations, but the move toward fully social business is gaining momentum. Surveys suggest that CEOs are increasingly convinced that digital is a core part of their future and that they need to lead it. One recent report from management consultancy McKinsey & Co. noted that "C-level executives ... say they are stepping up their own involvement in shaping and driving digital strategies, particularly when it comes to digital customer engagement."

Ranking lower in the McKinsey results are "digital approaches to engaging their own employees, suppliers and external partners." Survey participants lamented the challenge of finding "functional talent" like "digital marketers."

If that's not enough to make you worry about companies driving social media into every corner of the enterprise, a recent study from Adobe will. Digital Distress reveals that while more than three-quarters of marketers believe their world has changed more in the past two years than in the previous 50, less than half feel highly proficient at digital marketing.

An informal, unscientific review of postings for social media jobs and jobs that include social media responsibilities doesn't do much to reassure you. For required skills, companies list qualifications like proficiency in analyzing and interpreting data; proficiency with basic tools like HTML, TweetDeck and Radian6; and of course written and verbal skills.

What's missing from these listings--and from the overall approach to preparing the workforce to work socially--are the specific competencies required in order for staff to execute against the social and digital strategies the company is trying to achieve.

Two of my colleagues and I have identified 34 distinct social and digital media competencies. For each one, we've listed the requirements to work at minimal (or foundational) levels, up to advanced levels.

Let me disclose that we've done this work in order to sell related consulting services, but that's not the point (and I'm not linking to our work in this column). The point is that there are at least 34 competencies in which communicators with digital responsibilities say they are underqualified, yet companies are moving headlong into delegation of social and digital media to all employees.

In a 1 October...

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