While interviewing a social media strategist, the phone conversation was stopped abruptly as the strategist confessed, “I’ve gotta go. There are two people standing in front of my office demanding Facebook Pages.” If they didn’t get the Pages, they were going to build them on their own.
And there-in lies social media's next challenge. The next generation can do all of it themselves. And while they're doing that - the social media strategist within an organization may be deleted and new positions and approaches will be needed.
Research by Altimeter with 140 social media "enterprise" strategists yielded some intriguing guidance into the future of the medium and how we can keep it moving forward. I'm paraphrasing and interpreting because some of the recommendations didn't make sense to me.
Take off the evangelist hat. The time is past for people who talk up social media to everyone in their organization or people that they meet. "The strategist will be responsible for resources, timelines, Gantt charts, ROI models, analytics, data modeling, resource management, project management. It’s a very different skill set than the evangelist role that we’ve seen before." I guess that means they need to be marketing and creating a lot of charts and data.
Create programs that can be scaled up - Community engagement and advocacy are great ways for organizations to create and develop new social media spaces. Also the chances of growing sites that address personal and professional concerns are much higher.
Choose your model - There is a list of five models in the study all of which gave me a headache. It seems like the most effective one utilizes cross-functional teams to develop social media strategy and build engagement with that space. It also acknowledges that social media strategy may go brand by brand, division by division, or work group by work group. So the central strategist role may be phased out in favor of targeted decision-makers.
Customer communications and service channel - One of the recommendations is to make social media not just about marketing to add communications and customer service as ways in which you can use the media. But isn't that what marketing is too? Not really sure I got this one but I think the point is if you sell, sell, sell in your social space - and there are many who push products, themselves, etc. endlessly - and don't add to the conversation - people will leave, leave, leave.
Use it as a career advancement tool - This one is mine. I have to admit the best use of social media that I've seen is as a way for young professionals to communicate about their career challenges and jobs that are out there. This type of approach keeps them coming back and talking.