2007 seems to be the year of the corporate social media specialist. I'm seeing more people who use some variation on the term to describe themselves, and clients are asking about the organizational issues around listening and interacting with social media. I wrote my thoughts on what I called social media relations last fall (don't get hung up on the title; that's not the point), and now I'm talking with people in similar roles to compare the theory with what companies are really doing and how it's working.
The central characteristic of this new role is the ability to talk tech and marketing, bridging the gap between functions without a strong history of mutual respect. Steve Rubel calls people who do this geek marketers, a term not guaranteed to maximize the job's compensation. David Churbuck prefers Chief Digital Officer, which is the logical extreme at the high end of the scale.
I suspect there's going to be a correlation between the size of the company and the level of the position, with smaller companies adding social media to the web guy's portfolio and larger companies building teams for listening and interacting online (the team may be on an agency payroll). I welcome any data points that confirm or correct my expectations.
Topic of the week
This notion of the corporate social media specialist—whatever the title—keeps popping up this week. I talked with a recruiter at Yum Brands, where they've filled one position and have more open, and I've come across several references to positions—filled and otherwise—in the automobile industry.
BrandWeek's Steve Miller interviewed Toyota's Bruce Ertmann: Toyota CGM exec monitors the good, the blog, and the ugly (via Josh Hallett):
As corporate manager of consumer-generated media at the Torrance, Calif.-based automaker, Ertmann constantly trolls the Web to see what people are saying... Although other car companies also have people who track and write blogs, Ertmann's title is believed to be the first in the U.S. auto trade.Ertmann was also quoted in the New York Times on Toyota's use of Nielsen BuzzMetrics in December. Meanwhile, across the pond, BMW seeks new media PR manager:
The job recognises the increasing blur between traditional marketing and public relations as well as challenges presented by dynamic new communication channels. Monitoring, managing and influencing public commentary via new media is a skill set that BMW lists as important.I'd say we have a trend. Now, if this is your job, would you be willing to talk with me about it? If you're trying to fill one of these positions externally, how are you doing it? Are you using social media to attract social media experts to your company (hint)?