I got tired of looking for a picture to illustrate a job search, so instead, here's a picture of a dog in Sausalito catching a rubber chicken.
Wednesday was my last day at SAS as social media manager. I’ve written about my departure (two posts, actually: one on my SAS blog and one here) and the decision to give up a great job at a great company to go to New Marketing Labs. My old job was posted yesterday on the SAS jobs page (search job #10002098), and, as I said on Twitter, I found it a bittersweet experience seeing it there. (I think that word may have confused some people; it was bittersweet because I’m leaving a great job and great people, but it was my decision and the parting was even more amicable than I could have hoped.)
Since the job posted, I’ve had quite a few people contact me to ask about the job through a variety of methods available to us these days: email, Twitter DM, Facebook message and Skype. (No one has called.) All of their questions have been along the same lines, and since the answers are positive for all involved, I thought I’d save time and answer them here.
Q: Is it a good job?
A: Absolutely. SAS is truly a great place to work, and this is a great job for the right person. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. It’s a big company, with all that entails, so it does require someone who can build consensus and motivate people. And you’ll be able to have a tremendous amount of influence on the future direction of social media at the company, both in the U.S. and overseas.
Q: Who does it report to? What’s she like?
A: The job reports to the estimable Kelly LeVoyer, for whom I have nothing but respect and affection. She’s a good manager, a good person and a SAS veteran, so she knows her way around the place. When I left, she gave me a bottle of 20-year old port. So, like that.
Q: What skills should the person have? What do you think is most important?
A: You need to be able to motivate people. You need to know how to bring virtual teams together and get the most out of people who don’t report to you. You need to be patient, because it’s a big company and, as with any big company, there are lots of moving parts in any decision. You need to be a good writer and communicator. You need to be a good public speaker and comfortable presenting to groups both inside and outside the company. And you need to be a good project manager. You’ll have lots of balls in the air and lots of deadlines.
Also, you need to have an analytical mind and a devotion to proving the bottom-line value of social media. If you’ve never given any thought to social media monitoring, measurement and analytics, you might be tweeting up the wrong tree.
Q: Do you just hang around on Facebook all day?
A: Paradoxically, most of the time I didn’t use social media tools to do my job more than anybody else. My job was primarily to work internally to develop strategies, policies and training. I communicated primarily via email, phone and meeting. I was on Twitter a lot, and I ran the Conversations and Connections blog (until Intern Extraordinaire Stacey Alexander more or less hijacked it), but neither was a major part of my job. I wrote most of my blog posts at night, in that golden hour after everybody else has gone to sleep and I was still able to keep my eyes open.
That being said, if I were hiring my replacement I would cast a very critical eye on anyone who isn’t already blogging, tweeting, participating on Facebook and LinkedIn and hasn’t shot, edited and posted videos to YouTube. The job requires an understanding and level of comfort with the tools, because you’ll be teaching other people how to use them.
On the other hand, you don’t have to be mayor of 200 coffee shops on Foursquare and have a Tumblr account that autoposts when your dishwasher finishes the rinse cycle. You’ll need to keep your eyes on the horizon, but you’ll mostly be working with established social media channels for the foreseeable future.
Q: Do they already have somebody internal in mind?
A: Nope. It’s a sincere effort to find the best candidate, whether inside or outside of SAS.
Q: I’m thinking about applying…
A: Do it now. I suspect that, as with any SAS job, they’ve already been inundated with applications. Often SAS job postings come down after a few days because of the volume of replies.
It’s well past midnight on the eve of SocialFresh Charlotte, and I should either be sleeping or going over my presentation for tomorrow, but I’m in a reflective mood. I was talking this evening with Tom Webster, Amber Naslund and Chris Penn and realized SocialFresh Charlotte 2009 was my first real social media speaking gig. I sat on a panel with Kipp Bodnar, Jeff Cohen and Nathan Gilliatt. It seems like a lot more than a year ago. Tom called it “Internet time.”
So much has happened in that intervening year. SAS has gone from having a few dedicated social media explorers to an ever-growing roster of practitioners using social media tools to support bottom-line objectives. People have stopped asking “Why?” and started asking “How?”
It’s been an exciting process, going from a grass roots effort to a company-wide priority backed up by training and educational resources. Plus, we launched SAS Social Media Analytics, using a coordinated social media approach that proved its value in the attention we received and the leads that came in the door.
For me personally, the past year has brought many more opportunities to talk with people about the value of enterprise social media and the ways you can structure your company for social media success. I’ve worked with dozens of SAS colleagues from offices around the world, presented at social media conferences and to groups of SAS customers. I’ve also just handed over the manuscript of The Executive’s Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy, a book I wrote with Mike Barlow, to be published by Wiley in early 2011.
In some ways it feels like this year has been arc. And now it’s time to begin a new one; I’m joining the team at New Marketing Labs, the new media company founded by Chris Brogan, Stephen Saber and Nick Saber.
I first became acquainted with NML when I started looking for someone to help with the Social Media Analytics launch. I knew we couldn’t introduce a social media product with a press release, and NML did a great job helping us define our strategy and outreach campaign. Through that process I got to know Chris, Colin Bower and Justin Levy and saw what a great team they made, from a client’s perspective.
That perspective should help me in my new role as Executive Director. I’ll be overseeing client relations, as well as helping to develop new enterprise products and services. It’s going to be challenging, but it’s also going to be a lot of fun. We’re at the point in the growth and adoption of social media where it’s getting harder and harder to impress prospects and satisfy clients. The honeymoon is over. Only bottom line results will keep agencies in business. I suppose that should scare me, but it excites me. New Marketing Labs is up to the challenge.
I know some people will think I’m crazy for leaving SAS, which has not only embraced social media as a company, but is also leading the charge in business analytics. It was the hardest career decision I’ve ever made. I’ve had a lot of great experiences at SAS and worked with so many talented and enthusiastic people.
Like no other company I’ve ever experienced, SAS really does understand the value of treating employees and customers well, and that philosophy is the foundation of their success. It’s also the reason that people treat one another so well. I feel lucky to have been there and made the friendships I did, and I know those relationships will carry on.
I start at New Marketing Labs on September 1, and as much as I’ve enjoyed my visits to Boston, I’ll be staying put in North Carolina and joining the workshifting ranks (which also means I get to go buy office supplies â€” I love buying office supplies).
I can’t predict what I’ll be reflecting on a year from now, and I’m realizing that’s one of the most exciting things about this. We’re making this up as we go along. All of us. We will do some things right and some things wrong, and we will learn. And in the end, we will all be better for it.
I’ve worked for a lot of different kinds of companies and organizations, run my own business, and been laid off by a big company. I know what it means to be a loyal employee and also to have that loyalty crushed. When I heard SAS’ CEO Jim Goodnight say he would accept lower profits this year so as to avoid layoffs, I thought, "Maybe this really is a company I could stay at the rest of my career."
That got me thinking about the rest of my career. I’m 43 now, so my career might go another 20 years or so.
At SAS we try to reach lots of different audiences – not just C-level execs who make the purchase decisions, but IT managers, programmers, statisticians, recent grads and students.
That means the majority of the people I’ll need to reach and influence in 20 years are somewhere between zero and 30 right now.
Some of my future audience isn’t even born yet.
So does anybody really think those people, in 20 years, will be going to static web sites and entering their email addresses to download white papers? Reading emails? Even sitting in offices looking at monitors?
The people who will determine whether or not I get to retire comfortably or work until I drop are today’s early adopters, the digital natives, the people who most of us in our 40s now find either fascinating or terrifying. If we let them get out of sight, we’ll never see them again.
We spend a lot of time now asking "What’s the ROI?" and "What are our competitors doing?" and "What are the industry best practices?"
The people we’ll be marketing to in the next 20 years are putting pictures of themselves on Facebook that would get us fired and would have gotten our dads arrested.
They’re not thinking of the reasons not to do something. For better or worse, they’re doing it. And as uncomfortable as that might make us, those who are accustomed to cost/benefit analysis and SWOT and 12-month budget cycles, that’s the attitude those people will bring with them to the marketplace our tired old selves will be trying to influence.
It won’t be about figuring out what to do. It’ll be about doing it and seeing what happens. Or trying to figure out where everybody went.
Chris Brogan mentioned Chuck D in passing this morning in a post whose title defies being ignored. (In case Dad is reading this, Chuck is frontman for Public Enemy, one of the most principled and politically aware rap groups ever.)
Before I came to SAS I ran web sales and marketing for Yep Roc Records and Redeye Distribution. Redeye distributed PE’s “New Whirl Odor” in 2005. When Chuck came to visit (out in the middle of nowhere in Haw River, NC, 20 miles from Chapel Hill) he made a point of speaking with everyone in the company, going from office to office introducing himself and taking pictures with everyone. When my turn came, he told me to sit at my desk and he sat in my visitor chair, pretending he was applying for a job. It’s pretty damn funny. It’s not on this computer, unfortunately. I’ll post it when I get home. Here’s a cheesy handshake photo:
I'm the one on the right
What’s the social media tie-in, other than the fact that Brogan likes Chuck, too? Chuck was beginning a business relationship with us, but he didn’t do it by walking into our office and shouting about what he wanted (even though he certainly could have). He did it by establishing a genuine human connection with everyone in that company, from the owners to the accounting department to the guys in the warehouse. And I promise you that after he left, there wasn’t a single person in that company who wasn’t dedicated to doing whatever he or she could to help Chuck sell records.
The people who know what’s important in personal relationships know what’s important in business relationships, and they also know what’s important in online relationships. And it’s the same thing in all of them.
For a while we were thinking of this job as Digital Media Manager, but a Google search for that phrase gets a lot more hits for software packages that help manage your digital media than it does for people who manage Web 2.0 activities. I suggested changing the title to Social Media Manager, fully aware that a) the term may become hopelessly hackneyed and/or quaint in six to 18 months and 2) that there are many people who believe you can’t manage social media. "Social media strategist" would have also been a perfectly good title, although with the trails I need to blaze, I didn’t feel like creating a whole new taxonomy for our HR department as well.
So in this blog’s spirit of looking behind the curtain, I present my job description.
Social Media Manager
The SAS Social Media Manager is both internally- and externally-focused on developing & executing SASâ€™ social media strategy and advocating for the external community. Externally, he or she identifies influential opportunities, engages regularly with SASâ€™ audiences online and may be called upon to speak publicly as a thought-leader on SASâ€™ social media strategy. This person anticipates the evolution of social media. Internally the Social Media Manager sets the tone, philosophy and strategy (including budget) for Web 2.0, gains appropriate buy-in, then communicates relentlessly. He or she monitors Web 2.0 activities across departments and geographies, guiding participants on integration and best practices while encouraging successful participation. The Social Media Manager is obsessively focused on how results connect to corporate objectives, and is given the tools to measure those results.
Internal/external: 50% internally focused/ 50% externally focused Breadth of channels: Actively advises on, monitors and coordinates SASâ€™ activities on prioritized Web 2.0 channels, with responsibility for exploring & researching relevance of new channels.
Given ultimate authority to define SASâ€™ strategy & approach, including spend, for digital media channels that fall within the scope. Decisions that require budget will be appropriately coordinated with field marketing efforts.
Demonstrated experience with Web 2.0 channels & great affinity for learning new technologies.
Strong relationship buildingskills, including negotiation & executive interaction, ability to coach others
Ability to develop a business vision for social media, including goals & results
Leadership/decision-making: is skilled at articulating to executives and internal teams the importance of social applications and is able to make calm recommendations during crises. Is able to exercise good judgment with quick response time.
Flexible communication skills: Strong editorial writer. Is able to present needs and plans and communicate internally, has a distinct, personable voice for external engagement. Can manage negative situations toward positive outcomes.
Public speaking skills: This person will be the face of SAS Social Media Strategy, and will be called upon to speak to professional groups
Experienced manager: is able to manage budget and a team, if this function grows
Has foresight and vision: identifies Social Computing trends and is able to separate tools from fads
Tools required for success
Social networking analysis tools: Tomonitor/track results of digital media engagement.
Current mobile device(s): To test mobile Web 2.0 applications, monitor flow & delivery of mobile traffic
Â·Coordinate online media outreach and viral campaigns to promote SAS messages that increase awareness and/or drive traffic to the SAS site.
Â·Identify key/targeted bloggers by industry and solution area.
Â·Establish and cultivate positive relationships with key/targeted bloggers, and/or identify SAS marketers and PR managers who should be monitoring and influencing these relationships.
Â·Develop and manage pages on popular consumer social networking websites such as Linkedin, Facebook, YouTube, Second Life, MySpace, etc. as well as popular technology sites intended to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to the site.
Â·Develop and publish internal strategies for social media projects and technologies.
Â·Coordinate social media activities by actively engaging in consumer and industry conferences, blogs, video sharing, online chats, wikis, etc., to promote SAS messaging and increase brand awareness resulting in driving brand traffic to the site.
Â·Engage in regular participation within the customer community, including the review of user blogs, wikis and communities such as sascommunity.org.
Â·Recruit, develop and coach new bloggers and blog editors.
Â·Manage the day-to-day blogger activities; proactively identifying and developing blog posts, recruiting bloggers and assigning blog ideas to others.
Â·Track and monitor the success of online initiatives (i.e. impressions, reach and influence), and provide reports for directors and execs.
Â·Identify and report on digital/social media trends to PR and marketing leaders.
Â·Educate staff on the implementation and use of new technologies.
Â·Promote and evangelize social media activities internally.
I get a news digest email several times a day from Local Tech Wire, the biz and tech web outlet of WRAL, our CBS affiliate. The editor, Rick Smith, provides some of the best and most in-depth business coverage in our area. He and colleague Valonda Calloway did a fascinating interview with SAS CEO Jim Goodnight a few weeks ago at our annual Media Day that demonstrated how more traditional news outlets are changing in response to Web 2.0. The interview went all over the place, from SAS’ third quarter results (up more than 12 percent over last year) to Jim’s advice on investing and reflections on how his own portfolio is doing. Rather than boil it down into a few sound bites for the evening news, they put the entire video up on their web site. If it was edited, I don’t know where.