There’s a lot of chatter among folks in social media about where in an organization the “control center” for social should live. Perhaps not too surprisingly, the answer each person gives to that question typically reflects where they live in the organization. Here’s the thing: if you believe that social is about partnering with customers to solve business problems, is there some area of the business where that won’t apply? (I’m guessing the answer is mostly no, Legal aside) So in the end, since social should be an end-to-end “how” that can solve many “whats,” does it matter where it lives in the organization? In my mind, the answer is no.
In my experience, here’s what does matter for the social strategy lead:
- Understanding the medium and how it applies to your business – does the person understand the importance of listening and understanding what your customer base really thinks and wants? Do they already know how your customers talk about you and want to be talked to? Do they already have experience “doing” social?
- Strategic thinking – can the person match up strategic assets and emerging technologies? As a former boss of mine used to say, you need to be able to “skate where the puck is going.”
- Communication skills – chances are, this person is going to be up against some pretty tall odds in your organization as they try and change the corporate culture to be more open. Can they present to large groups effectively? Can they establish relationships with people in the organization who will be future partners in social solutions they create together?
- Advocacy – can the person advocate for customers, even at the thought of short-term career costs? Can they balance what the customer needs are and the business needs are when they need to? Can they identify when to advocate and when to back off?
- Leadership – Does the leader in this area of the organization think social is a priority worth fighting for? If they don’t, it’s not the right place for it, regardless of how great the person leading social may be.