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Web 2.0

Originally published on Conversations & Connections, my SAS social media blog

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

Job Description

The SAS Social Media Manager is both internally- and externally-focused on developing & executing SAS’ social media strategy and advocating for the external community. Externally, he or she identifies influential opportunities, engages regularly with SAS’ audiences online and may be called upon to speak publicly as a thought-leader on SAS’ 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.

Scope Geographic: Global

Internal/external: 50% internally focused/ 50% externally focused
Breadth of channels: Actively advises on, monitors and coordinates SAS’ activities on prioritized Web 2.0 channels, with responsibility for exploring & researching relevance of new channels.

Authority

Given ultimate authority to define SAS’ 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.

Skills

Demonstrated experience with Web 2.0 channels & great affinity for learning new technologies.

Strong relationship building skills, including negotiation & executive interaction, ability to coach others

Project management

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: To monitor/track results of digital media engagement.

Current mobile device(s): To test mobile Web 2.0 applications, monitor flow & delivery of mobile traffic

Responsibilities

· Coordinate online media outreach and viral campaigns to promote SAS messages that increase awareness and/or drive traffic to the SAS site.

· Identify key/targeted bloggers by industry and solution area.

· 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.

· 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.

· Develop and publish internal strategies for social media projects and technologies.

· 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.

· Engage in regular participation within the customer community, including the review of user blogs, wikis and communities such as sascommunity.org.

· Recruit, develop and coach new bloggers and blog editors.

· Manage the day-to-day blogger activities; proactively identifying and developing blog posts, recruiting bloggers and assigning blog ideas to others.

· Track and monitor the success of online initiatives (i.e. impressions, reach and influence), and provide reports for directors and execs.

· Identify and report on digital/social media trends to PR and marketing leaders.

· Educate staff on the implementation and use of new technologies.

· Promote and evangelize social media activities internally.

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I never have trouble sleeping. The last time I remember having any real trouble getting to sleep was seven or eight years ago the night my house was robbed. Oh, and ten years or so ago when I decided to start drinking coffee. After a few weeks I was having rapid heartbeat and withdrawal headaches and insomnia and realized I had gotten to my mid-30s without developing a caffeine addiction and that was no time to start. But today I had a big cup of regular coffee with an espresso shot and now, more than 12 hours later, I can’t sleep.

I’m getting a similar feeling from Twitter these days. I love the concept. I love the immediacy. I love being able to see what people are doing and reading and recommending in such a short format. As a writer I find it a fascinating exercise in brevity and craft. But come on, how do you keep up with it? I just added half a dozen people in the last couple of days, for a total of 60 people I’m following, and I already feel overwhelmed. Guy Kawasaki alone sent 54 tweets in the last 23 hours. With an inbox holding 2,000+ emails that need to be read, deleted or filed, I get enough of that feeling from my Web 1.0 channels.

I just downloaded TweetDeck in the vague hope it would provide some relief, but while a nice interface, it doesn’t really address the problem of having enough time to read it all. I’ve starred quite a few tweets that contain links to articles I want to read later, but now I have a backlog of tweets to follow up on. Did I mention I have 2,000 emails in my inbox? How about the number of unread items in my Google Reader? I don’t need another firehose.

Is Twitter really a positive development in communication? Or will we start seeing articles in the next couple of years by people describing how they’ve increased their productivity by, as impossible as it sounds, turning off Twitter. “At first it was hard, and my colleagues had difficulty adjusting, but now I realize I’m getting more done.”

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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.

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This morning I got hit by a headline on a wire service article that snapped my head back: “Web 2.0 investments dive in Q3 but cleantech surges.” “Oh, no,” I thought. “Here we go again. The media can’t declare something on the rise without simultaneously sounding the death knell for something else.” We saw the same phenomenon a few weeks ago when Wired declared blogging dead, assassinated by Twitter, Flickr and Facebook. (At roughly the same time I resurrected my blog.)

On reading the piece I realized it’s not taking that direction at all. Venture investment in Web 2.0 startups is down, whereas investment in sustainable energy startups is going up. Still, I’m sure the headline will stick in some people’s minds: Web 2.0 is out, green is in.

I’m glad I work at a company that’s pursuing them both. Not only is our solar farm scheduled to go live in December, but we’ve also broken ground on a new office building and customer visit center that will incorporate a wide variety of green features. And we have a new product, SAS for Sustainability Management, that helps companies measure and manage their environmental impact.

As for 2.0, we have an active Marketing 2.0 Council engaged in understanding 2.0/social media initiatives and strategizing how we can use them effectively. And we’ve just hired our first Social Media Manager (me). No one is talking about how one focus is better than the other. No one is saying, “Let’s stop all this social media nonsense and spend more time on green.” In fact, we’re talking about how social media can help us tell our corporate social responsibility story. It’s a natural fit, when you think of it, and I’ll write more about that as we go along.

One of the many things I’m learning from social media is that we have the capacity to hold many ideas, concepts and pieces of information in our brains at the same time. The multitasking we thought we mastered in the ’90s is but a pale imitation of what we’re capable of now. So we can make room for green and 2.0 at the same time, can’t we?

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dbt-thumbnail-blacked-outFor most of my adult life, I’ve used David B. Thomas as my name. My father is David Thomas, without a middle name, so for one thing it helped distinguish us. (He was David NMI Thomas in the Army, for “No Middle Initial.”) Using my middle initial felt a bit stilted at times, because I introduce myself as Dave Thomas, and that’s generally how people refer to me.

Online I was usually dbt001, because with a name like mine, it’s hard to get an email address or username other than something like DavidBThomas3369.

When I started working at SAS in May of 2007, I arrived to find a nameplate on my door reading “Dave Thomas” and an email address to match. What the heck, I thought. I’ll just go with that.

Then I heard John T. Mims speak at the Ragan Communications Web 2.0 conference held on campus at SAS. One of John’s tips for participating in social media was to build your name as your brand. People with a common name need to do something to stand out in Web searches, John suggested. That’s why he started using his middle initial.

That got me thinking. If you search for “Dave Thomas,” you’re going to get an awful lot of search results, almost all of them not me, and many about the late hamburger pitchman. (People still insist on reminding me we share a name – I know, thanks). If you Google “David B. Thomas,” you’ll still find a lot of people, but you’ll also find me – three times on the first page of results. So now I’ve started using my B again. Where possible, on Twitter for instance, I’ve changed my username from dbt001 to DavidBThomas. It was either that, or change my name to Marmalade P. Vestibule.

When I first started blogging in 2003, along with a small cadre of friends, we all sought to be anonymous on the Web. It just seemed like the thing to do. My blogroll included Adda, Rebecky, Mykull and Pinky. You would need to scour their sites with the acuity of a Federal corruption investigator to figure out what town we even lived in. What were we worried about, exactly?

Five years later, not only am I writing a post about my name, but I’m on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Orkut (I think), Flickr and Friendfeed. If you want, you can find out what’s in my Netflix queue. I take care not to post anything potentially controversial or damaging to any of those outlets, but I don’t really do anything potentially controversial or damaging these days, publicly or privately.

Things have gone so far in the opposite direction that we’re now seeing public service announcements aimed at teenagers reminding them that anything they post online lives forever. As for my generation (X) social media seems to be teaching us it’s okay to be online and open and honest about your life and who you are. That knowledge is seeping through to the companies we work for. I’m still holding my breath for the first big “social media crisis” I may have to face. But maybe by the time it happens, I’ll be able to spend my time addressing it rather than defending our participation in those channels.

What’s the opposite of anonymity? Nymity?

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The Mrs. and I just got back from a walk in our neighborhood. On the ground near every mailbox was a CD-ROM in a plastic bag. (I assume they were lying on the ground because you can’t legally put things in a mailbox unless you work for the USPS.) Turns out it’s the 2008-2009 UNC-Chapel Hill campus directory. I assume from my limited sample they’ve given them to every postal address in Chapel Hill.

It’s definitely a step in the right direction over the paper phone book-style directories they used to print and distribute the same way. But I couldn’t help wondering why they don’t just eliminate the distribution step and rely on their web directory? If they’ve already decided to forsake non-computer users, how much more of an incremental step is it to assume that people with computers – especially in this town – have Internet access?

I’ve struggled with a similar question at various previous companies; When do you stop printing your collateral and just rely on your Web site and other electronic resources? The answer, so far, has always come down to the same thing: The sales folks like to be able to put something tangible in customers’ hands.

Besides, if you don’t have a company magazine, what will you leave lying on tables in your waiting areas? Laptops?

Actually, why not?

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