Posted November 23, 2010 9:03 am by with 4 comments

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On some level, most larger businesses are engaged in social media. I say larger only because we have discussed the plight of the SMB in this space before and it is not safe to assume they are doing anything at all with social media.

To what degree and with what level of success these businesses use social media varies across the entire spectrum of runaway success to abject failure. This is not unusual because that’s how things work with everything in life, not just social media.

A recent study by Ketchum and FedEx tries to capture just how or to what degree most businesses are jumping in the social media waters. eMarketer shared part of their study with this chart.

This chart almost mirrors a classic bell curve (10 percent on one end, 80 percent in the middle and 10 percent on the other end). What the main differentiator in the middle and upper levels of this scale is not really how they are doing social media but the recognition that there needs to be dedicated personnel to perform the practice or the hiring of additional outside counsel from an agency.

So all of you job seekers that have a Facebook account and use Twitter to some degree or another it’s time to put some lipstick on that resume. Just like the days when search was the hot hiring topic, it looks like your biggest decision is going to be whether you are an expert, a guru, a maven, a ninja or a (fill in the blank).

Let’s face it there are going to be more business and job opportunities in the social media space than qualified bodies to fill them. Mainly this will happen because the industry is still very young. Also, because those who are most savvy in the space regarding the tools have the least amount of business experience. As a result, the application of the tools in business and being able to build a strategy for effective business application of these “fun” tools may not be as available as many businesses would like.

The industry is in for an extended period of settling on hires vs. making the best hire. Before you get your knickers in a twist, I am not saying that younger people who are social media tool savvy aren’t smart. What I am saying is that they lack experience in the business world and thus will be limited in effectiveness in many (not all) cases. That’s just a fact. Same goes for young accountants. You may know all the techniques but how to apply the tax code to the best advantage of a business v. a text book case study is very, very different and something learned through experience.

So for those of you looking to hire social media staff, what do you look for? What are hoping to get from your hires? Are they strategic hires or are they ‘rank and file’ hires? Let us know.

  • I think that we’ve all read about those social media gurus, evangelists and stuff that it becomes somewhat cliche. If you ask me, I would like to have someone who is passionate about – people. Social media is all about making meaningful interactions and I’d like to have someone who can communicate my brand message out there, without sounding like a spambot. You see, I’m used to getting promises about getting thousands of followers in nth amount of time when the truth is, you’ll never know if those numbers will convert to your brand advocates. Just a thought.

    • @Garious – Funny how in our quest to measure success in the space we have had to resort ot the # of follower metric which really means little because it is SO easy for someone online to give the impression of caring (i.e. “Liking” a brand on Facebook) but then never giving it a second thought past the ‘liking’. Creating brand advocates or zealots is MUCH more difficult than we have thought in the social media space because not only do people usually just only act like they care, noe they act like they care about a lot of things when, as a human being, we can only handle so much at a deeper level.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • The guys at the start of the bell curve are taking a real leap of faith. Hiring 3+ social media experts seems a little excessive at a time when the rules of the game are still being written in pencil. I’m not saying that you should wait until it’s completely safe, but I’m very much of the opinion that social media is a natural add-on to the PR and marketing departments’ roles and allocating additional budgets to these functions will work today.

    I don’t believe that those selling themselves as pure social media experts, with no grounding in any other part of the marketing mix should be top of the hire list. Social media is an evolution in the way we communicate and you need to understand where you are coming from to know where you are going. Social media also needs to be rolled out seamlessly in a complementary way to the existing PR and marketing programmes and adding a standalone social media expert will take away from this.

    Collaboration between PR, marketing and advertising can often become an afterthought, but as these departments move forward with social media, this is changing. It would be a shame to throw another team (silo) in the mix just for the sake of it.

  • I would suggest that companies should try to drill potential talents from their own employees who have good credibility and presence on social networks. You should hire an expert who can be handy to measure the success of social media campaigns. Social Media is in its initial stages and there is a high chance that it will keep evolving . So stay up to date with emerging trends. Social Media is all about interactions, building up conversations and gaining trust and credibility.