Last week, ZDNet blogger Dion Hinchcliffe posed an interesting question about adding a C Level Executive to the Board Room whose sole responsibility would be Social Media. While I can speak from experience that handling multiple Social Media Streams may seem like a full time job I do have some issue with the fact that they would get a seat at the Board Room Table as the CSMO (Chief Social Media Officer).
The interesting thing about the article is how Hinchcliffe cleverly weaves the role to encompass direct connections with the Sales and Marketing Teams, Human Resources and even the Logistics/Production and IT Departments along the way. The reality is, Social Media is not going anywhere and will be around as long as we can plug in, connect and sell through Social Channels.
I found a short Role Description for the CSMO over at CNN.com:
A CSMO would not only produce content for social media sites, but he or she would also train employees on how to use the platforms. In order to keep a company’s brand intact and private data from being tweeted or posted to an employee’s Facebook page, the CSMO would also educate workers on what is and is not appropriate to share.
There still is the real point of ROI on Social Media. It is hard to pinpoint how much the engagement of customers, employees and the brand itself brings through Social Media and the world of Social Media is filled with hundreds of supposed “experts” that claim some pretty amazing returns, I know because I get emails from these “experts” on a daily basis and well I guess Social Media is the new Viagra of the Spamming World!
Beyond the ROI though, as long as Social Media is the afterthought of someone in the Marketing Department, an Extra Project for Sales Management or worse, yet another project to fall onto the shoulders of taxed and worn our IT Professionals there will be an air of not being taken seriously by businesses. Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing returns that can come from having the single voice and vision for the Social Media Strategy (as the Head Chef and Chief Bottle Washer here at Krispy’s Rants – I know down to the penny what the return on investment for me has been).
The challenge for businesses will continue to be the justification of the role. Everything points to this will be something that only the very large and the “Start Up” companies of the world embrace with the SMB market just staying away from the entire mess.
The article even points out that this will be a whopper of a new position:
A Chief Social Officer would be focused on where the company is heading in terms of how it operates and has control over engagement across all constituencies and stakeholders. In other words, a pretty substantial new position. Are most companies actually ready to have a conversation about it or support this? I’d say that perhaps only a handful of companies are preparing to do this today, so no. And this means these organizations will likely suffer slower transition and adaptation to the disruptive trends taking place today. They’ll be at a disadvantage to industry leaders willing to understand that such a leadership role can help them blaze the trail towards the changes needed in a way that’s properly prioritized and resourced.
I think that this will need to be a wait and see situation. I am not convinced that there will be broad adoption of this new role but the future of Enterprise 2.0 may just ride on giving the reigns over to a single set of hands to chart the next path and find the way out of the dark place that business in 2012 has found itself.
Chris J Powell