A post like this is published every couple of months and is usually met with a cacophony of cheers tantamount to “string up the bastards!”
I, however, meet this exuberance with a wide yawn. And not just because I head up social at my company. I ran general marketing programs before I specialized in social and I can do it again, so it’s not fear for my job that I remain unimpressed.
Although there is certainly an amount of hyperbole at play here, this TechCrunch post imagines an idealized world where an enterprise top-to-bottom understands and is willing to participate in social technologies, communications, data, and behaviors.
No doubt this would be ideal. I’m not one for creating ivory towers. In fact, lack of integration with other business areas is the biggest pain point I face (and I have no doubt my enterprise brethren would feel the same).
But change needs leadership. More than leadership, it needs a champion. Someone who has excellent foresight, ability to recognize opportunity, and a fearlessness when it comes to trying things they may not work or that have never been done.
Change also needs direction. The type of change that the author of this post idealizes never happens this quickly within an enterprise. At most big companies, change moves at the pace of a three-legged sloth. What’s more, with that many cooks in the kitchen, and with organizational communication a common pain point, this kind of rose-colored free for all would end with a whole lot of duplicated efforts at best and a giant, brand menacing mess at worst.
Because the functions of technology (and the human behavior using those functions) change so frequently, technology still informs strategy (to a degree). Companies need folks who are not only armpit-high in the muck of this ever changing ecosystem, but specialists who can report back meaningfully to the organization what these changes are and how they are affecting customers, prospects, and processes and products in reality, not in theory.
It is true that many social media directors are very good at turning talking points into eloquent statements and very nice looking PowerPoint presentations. But I’ve found that few have actually done hands on community building and implementation—-the fundamental first step to having truly deep knowledge about what you’re pontificating about in regards to social. Perhaps it’s these folks who are so upsetting to the author.
But suggesting that companies get rid of any kind of social media leadership or oversight is like firing all the pilots before the rest of us know how to fly the plane. One day many of these skills and knowledge of the social media director will be more widely adopted as part of “business as usual.” But I don’t see the technology or marketing industry slowing down. If the size of my inbox and the state of my schedule are any indicators, I don’t think I’ll be considered redundant anytime soon.