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Who is Qualified to be Your Social Media Strategist?

Who is qualified to be your Social Media Strategist?  As a leading search firm for some of the top global PR and digital agencies in healthcare communications, our job is to find the best candidates for our companies. Since social media is an emerging area for many of our companies, Odom & Co wanted to share some of our experience with you.

First, social media is not about the tools, it is about the strategy. Game-changing social media strategists have experience in several areas including marketing communications, PR and digital media.  At Odom & Co, we do not believe social media strategy is a position to be taken lightly. Individuals with limited marketing expertise and whose “experience” includes many profiles on the social networks are not qualified candidates.  Neither are those who recommend you jump into all the social media platforms.

The first question a social media strategist should ask you is “Why?” Why do you want to be involved in social media?  Other questions should be:  What are your objectives?  Are you prepared to engage with your audience? Are you willing to make a commitment?  How will you add value to the community? Are you prepared to listen?  Are you prepared to respond to feedback?  Are you willing to change?

Social media strategists should be familiar with Web analytics and sentiment analysis tools, and use findings to adjust strategy. Because a successful strategy depends on relevance and relationships, companies are quick to find that what they believed to be great content is not part of their customers’ agenda. Therefore, great content requires a master of communications in your industry.

Our area of medical, healthcare and pharma communications requires specialists who need to know the industry, applicable laws, and special considerations.  The social media strategist you employ should not only know the industry, but its thought leaders and influencers.  The strategist will need to know how to integrate social media with other internet marketing strategies, your overall online presence and your business goals.

Foremost, social media is about sharing, not guarding the fort. “Social media is about being social both online and in real life ,” according to Brian Solis, principal of FutureWorks , an award-winning PR and new media agency, who adds, “Technical mastery is needed far less than leadership.”

According to the Altimeter Group, emerging technologies and the future of business will require a change in leadership style.  Your strategist will not be limited to marketing, but will need to be involved in all areas of the organization.  It is a senior level position.

Finding the right candidate to lead your social media strategy is a tall order, but one Odom & Co can help you fill.

Although Odom & Co has engaged with clients on LinkedIn for awhile, we are now on Twitter @odomandco , and we are excited about this blog. We have spent time listening to the thought leaders in our industry, including conversations in #hcsm, #hcmktg and #hcsmeu.  Odom & Co is looking forward to engaging with you.  Please let us know how we can better serve you.  We welcome your comments. We are listening.

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7 responses to “Who is Qualified to be Your Social Media Strategist?”

  1. Could not agree more! Stakes are high and risk of inaction may outweigh institutionalized decision paralysis. Yet, choose wisely.

    It’s been said, ‘the quickest way to kill a bad product or service…is ‘good marketing’ ‘ Add social media to the mix, and the moniker takes on an even greater truth.

    Bottom-line, is you wade into the waters of social media with an implicit if not explicit commitment to authenticity; and not of the pseudo ‘managed variety’.

    Find your voice, avoid defensiveness, and above all be the change you want to see, i.e., organic transformation. It’s the gestalt stupid! We all have shadows, trying to hide them is an exercise in “net suicide’.

  2. I wonder how much of the Marketing profession (on the whole) fully understands the implications of the inversion of the models that were developed last century.

    It seems we’re in a transitional period in which many traditional marketers are desperately trying to port in a broadcasting model into a conversational one.

    Meanwhile, there seems to be no shortage of social media evangelists who don’t understand the difficult tasks of formulating oriented strategies and day-to-day disciplines needed to maintain a robust, effective and focused presence.

    I suspect many marketers will be disappointed with some of the claims about how social media will impact marketing efforts.

    Still, the bottom line is this: no business or industry lasts forever and the ones that survive & thrive are the ones who never fall behind nor toot their own horn nor fail their stakeholders for short-term gain.

    Social media is easy. Which is why it’s hard. Go figure.

  3. Clarification: the ‘stupid reference’ ties to the Bush one era when the mantra was ‘it’s the economy stupid’ to penetrate what many considered to be a ‘bubble of insulation’ from main street travails; just to keep the message clear.

  4. I think there are quite a few discussion on what is a social media strategist. There are many out there who will bill themselves as consultants.

    I agree that much of what this position is to do is at the senior level. I do think it is also important to have someone who has been on the front line as well.

    Most customers want to hear from the nurse, or care giver not the CEO. So it takes a special person to coordinate the strategy and the tactical execution once the strategy is built.

    This all comes back to what you have pointed out:

    1. why are we doing this?
    2. does this person have the ability and skill set to know our industry of health care?
    3. can they work at the senior level and front line level?

    great article… health care is slow to move but we will get there!

  5. Thank you very much for your comments, Gregg. True, authenticity is the key, and social media is an amplifier exponentially. Because social media represents such a paradigm shift from “broadcasting” a message to participating in a “conversation,” it is challenging concept for many companies. They are hesitant to wade into the water because they are not sure they know how to swim. However, adoption will be a crash course as marketers will have to catch up to where their customers are. As I mentioned, the conversation is going on whether they choose to participate or not. Marketing folks will need to lead the way and be enablers, they are no longer in control. Also, that is why it takes a senior person, one who is confident and willing to test the waters. What they will find out by being authentic, however, is the water wasn’t so scary after all. In fact, they will love swimming. Always love “be the change you want to see!” Thank you, Angela Dunn

  6. Thank you, Phil. Yes, as you say, there is “…no shortage of social media evangelists who don’t understand the difficult tasks of formulating oriented strategies and day-to-day disciplines needed to maintain a robust, effective and focused presence.” Social media is a process that takes an investment of time. Investing in authentic relationships with your customers has never been a bad investment, and neither is investing in the right people, in this case, the true strategists, not just evangelists! Best, Angela Dunn

  7. Thank you, Reed, for your comments and compliment. I want to add that we are honored that you, Gregg and Phil, as well as other thought leadership on this subject, have weighed in on this post and forwarded retweets on Twitter to others. As you point out, there is a lot of discussion on “What is a Social Media Strategist?” We hoped to provide a post that was informative especially as it pertains to our healthcare industry. You bring up a good point about the front line. Involvement must be across the organization and not just the CEO. The Social Media Strategist must have the ear of the CEO, be active in social media themselves, and have the ability to shape policies. As evidenced in the healthcare Tweetchats, there is a lot of interest now on sharing information to create social media policies. I think it might be helpful to do a followup post on the various social media positions that might be utilized in an organization, e.g., VP of Social Media, Director of Audience Development and Community Manager. What do you think? Thank you, again! Angela Dunn

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