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September 11, 2009


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Joan Horton

I think that is an idea whose time has come (maybe even approaching "past due"). This person would be the "big picture" guy/gal about SocMed - a true point person. It would help to ensure that SocMed doesn't take a back seat or become an afterthought of marketing but rather could help fully integrate it into the overall marketing plan. Personally, I think the position should reside in the Marketing department vs. IT.


Hi Scott, I think this is an absolute necessity and a great way for job creation. There are a growing number of people who have a unique talent for understanding social media, know what it stands for, so this would be perfect. But please not in IT. All that bit about humanity in being social will be lost in IT.

One other thing, if we keep pushing organisations to be more open and transparent, this is definitely an essential role to keep things in order. An overviewer who can sense trends and avert potential PR disasters. Very important role :)

Kathy Tito

Yes - and that person is/should be a "marketing manager" of sorts, reporting to marketing leadership. All marketing outreach is, and has always been, "social media" - we simply have more platforms to leverage today. Protocol should be similar to corporate website - get the right parties involved, ie some development expertise, but more than ever companies need the effort coordinated in order to optimize for best results while staying withing brand/legal guidelines.

Would you have your sales people write your annual report? Would you have your VP technology write a press release? Probably not. Be careful who your administrators/participants are in your social media plan.


Hi Scott:

Cheers from NYC. This role is clearly an important one as Social Media and its impact continues to be transformative for numerous businesses and their marketing, PR, messaging and business development efforts. We're working on social media operations, and on how orgs can evolve to leverage these new channels. Also clear that social media is cross departmental, thus increasing need for central coordinating producer/administrator/ ops lead/councilor. But it can also be an active and creative development role not just administrative and coordinating position, IMHO.

Agree how critical it is for orgs to develop policies and guidelines for social media engagement. We are knee deep in that area for one client right now. Compliance and social media require delicate balance for financial services orgs.


Hi @joan and @kathy, as much I agree with marketing taking the lead, I am all for Customer Care to have a huge say as well because being social should extend beyond a marketing plan and, honestly, Customer Care has the most touchpoints with customers and clients and have the insights and experience that can be leveraged on in any social strategy.

I say a triumvirate of Marketing+PR+Customer Care, but it will probably get messy for a while :)

Alecia O'Brien

Hi David,
Absolutely 100% believe that the social media administrator role should report to Marketing.
What's being said about the company online (employees or the community) need to be understood and managed by the company's primary brand ambassadors - the marketing team.
Perhaps the role should be expanded to manage all of the community building activities around SM campaigns? Publishing and sharing content to social media sites can be time intensive (i.e. Digg, F'book, LinkedIn groups). Our spreadsheet of sites to hit up and share content with is long (200 lines and counting) - and unfortunately that list continues to grow...
The guy in your picture looks like he's doing something awfully naughty by the way.

P.S. Thanks for the dna13 mention!

Jason Cormier

David, I like your first cut here.

Jeremiah Owyang began talking quite a bit about the need for a Social Media Strategist in early 08' - as well as the need for a Community Manager to be the online face of the company.

This administrator role you are defining bleeds into both of those roles. I think the biggest bang for the buck from this kind of role (in terms of how you are defining it) relates to the ongoing research and evaluation ultimately required to stay "fully knowledgeable on the tools."

As one who runs a social media agency http://room214.com/ I can tell you a consistently increasing demand we must fulfill is staying on top of the tools.

For example, monitoring tools are only a subset of social media related applications popping up left and right these days. Now we are already hearing about companies striving to better apply CRM solutions around their social media efforts.

The evaluation and implementation of those kinds of emerging (CRM) solutions will be far more demanding than what I believe you are already correctly calling out as duties of a social media admin.

On a final note, this would be a pretty sweet job to have for someone looking to advance quickly within in any given organization recognizing social media as a relevant business strategy.

Amber Naslund

Hi David,

I think you're absolutely right that as social media becomes more deeply entrenched across the enterprise, we'll need staff people to help manage the operations, not just the engagement. Social media is going to keep touching *all* areas of the company - from customer service to product development to HR - and central point people (teams, even) will be critical.

We've been thinking a lot about this as companies start with listening and monitoring, and then realize the company-wide implications of the insights they glean. It takes more than a couple of people in marketing, or a handful of folks on Twitter, to make social media a valuable and integral part of a company.

Like what you're thinking. I'll be interested to see what others have to say!

Amber Naslund
Director of Community, Radian6

Sonny Gill

I think this is definitely a role that will start to pop up more as organizations continue to grow the social media arm of their business. In essence, this role really helps coordinate the flow of traffic within your org's social media strategies.

Not only that but with so many touch points within the social media space, the issue of scalability comes up and really multi-tasking. Understandably, SM roles aren't your typical 9-5s, but that doesn't mean the process can't be tweaked or made more efficient by adding this role.

A lot to chew on here about the future of this role. Thanks for the thought, David.


great ideas all around.

agree that role should probably be in marketing/comms/pub affairs or cust svc vs. IT ... and think equally important that folks who're planning to hire SMAs look beyond the SKILLS that david lays out in 1-5 to the real TALENTS that an SMA would need to be successful. these, to me, are characteristics potentially more aligned with personality and workstyle than with years of experience in facebook or twitter. for example:

1) must be highly collaborative, willing and able to work across functions, geographies, work groups, etc.

2) must be politically sensitive and thick-skinned, knowing that not everybody (especially sometimes more senior leaders) gets SM and might not think this work is important

3) must be a visionary thinker, someone who can see the potential that SM can deliver to a company. if i'm the senior leader who's responsible for the function, what i need is someone who's actually a step or two ahead of me in understanding what cool stuff other companies are doing, what cool stuff we could do, and what/how it could be made to happen.

Ken Burbary


I think in many organizations, depending on the size and scope of their products, services and online activities, this role would be too much to ask of a single individual. I envision a team of folks with divided roles and responsibilities performing the tasks you mention. Communicating and collaborating with one another using the same social & communications tools they are listening to consumers/customers with.

Case is point, Social Media Monitoring. This can be an incredibly manpower intensive exercise. Deciding on the scope of your monitoring efforts, harvesting the data, analyzing and separating the filter from the noise, then producing meaningful reports for actionable outcome are just some of the responsibilities involved. If you're talking about Coca Cola or Nike, this is beyond a single person to handle, even with the best combination of monitoring tools available today.

Speaking of that, your readers currently seeking a monitoring solution may benefit from the community wiki that profiles the best free and commercial social media monitoring tools in the marketplace today. Wiki is located at: http://wiki.kenburbary.com

Lots to think about and watch as companies decide how to implement new social roles like this in their organizations. Good read David!


Maggie McGary

I actually have the job you describe: I am the social media & community specialist for an association. I work in the web department, although I agree that this position probably best fits in communications. I also agree with Isman's comment--customer care is as much a part--if not a bigger part--as marketing is in the social media equation. Yes, social media presence is about brand but it's also about meeting customers where they are and making sure their needs are being met.

It is definitely a many-faceted role and also a challenging one. As Jason Cormier says, just staying on top of the tools is practically a full-time job. In addition to new tools, the existing tools and platforms are constantly evolving and it is very time consuming to keep up with it all. It's also a job that goes well beyond the 9-5, as participation in social media sites is not limited to regular work days by a long shot.

You definitely have to have a deep personal interest in social media to do this job, because a lot of it is a labor of love by virtue of the fact that there is such an ongoing learning component--it's not a job where a person will ever be able to just coast!

Tom Zucker-Scharff

I agree this idea is past due. A Social Media Admin is now a necessity if an organization expects to use Social Media in any meaningful way. This person is best housed in the department that takes care of in house publicity, usually the PR dept (although not always).

I think this position needs to be filled by a person with extensive Social Media experience, ability to coordinate disparate groups and technologies, although PR may be primary, technology background is also necessary.

This person need to keep up with the latest tech, but also anticipate new trends and help their company use new tech and software.

I agree with Monica that this person probably needs to be inured to the people who will never completely get the impact of SM, but be able to push forward anyway.

I believe you need someone with understanding of the law as it applies to SM. Not a law degree or even close just some classes in internet law.

Meg Sewell

Hi David,

I was hired in 2007 as my company's social media coordinator and was met by many skeptics. The common response I received was that these sites were time wasters and that corporate Social Media was basically a joke. ESPECIALLY given the fact that we are in the B2B space.

Now it seems that most every company is honed in on the idea of Social Media and that if you're not on Twitter or writing a company blog; you're behind.

Social Media is the future of Marketing. Every day the avenues and channels of networking sites are increasing. I think the role of a Social Media admin is right on target and can help companies to realize the potential value this method can bring.

Based on my experience, these efforts should most definitely be placed in the Marketing Department. One big challenge I've encountered is that people are hesitant to write ANYTHING for our company blog because they're so worried about what people might say in response or who knows what.

Marketing, I've found, is a little bit more relaxed and a little bit more aware of what exactly is acceptable and what actually may be risky. A Marketing SMA would know the correct messages, would have the appropriate writing skills, and wouldn't be too scared to put themselves out there.

Lastly, I completely agree with Sonny Gill. Social Media is absolutely about understanding the next cool thing. Our former Marketing VP helped fight for Twitter a couple of years back, and everyone kept saying, "WHAT is that? Why would we ever post on a site about mundane details of one's life?" Two years later, does anyone not know about Twitter or see the business value?

Jeremiah Owyang

Thanks David (and Jason Cormier)

I've been sorta maintaining (ok well I'm behind) a list of those folks in these roles

See here


I guess that answers if we need them or not! They already exist!

Matt Gentile


Again, excellent insight. I believe the role is important. I also believe it sould reside within the marketing department. However, in our business, it is critical that the administrator have an understanding of how IT integrates its online sales leads into the overall interactive marketing strategy so that social media lead generation efforts are mingled cogently.

I believe this is one of the most important business process transitions that sales organizatinos are coping with today. The role has signficant potential for bringing customers down the funnel and delivering tangible sales leads. Whether it is a hot transfer to a call center or online customer service representative the field is wide open right now and I have not seen a great deal on how this marketing arena is being pioneered.

I've been following this closely to learn best practices. If you have any case studies or real world examples of how the role is being integrated into a lead generation environment, I would be most interested.

As always thank you for the great discussion.

Matt Gentile, Director of PR
Century 21 Real Estate LLC

Bruce Nunn

I find it interesting to see how the composition of the marketing department has evolved over the years. In a small company, I see companies that hire one web marketing person for social media. However, the skill sets required are quite diverse. I personally view the role as requiring three distinct skill sets, which means three different people (or at least two).

It requires a web marketing manager, accountable for in-bound marketing leads, conversion rate, traffic increase, successful email marketing, and overall business improvement.

Additionally, you need the analytical skill-set. This is the person that lives in Google Analytics and understand where the traffic in coming from, where it leaves the site, which step in the e-commerce or conversion process sees the biggest drop-off. This person also knows which communities are talking about us and what they are saying.

Thirdly, you need the writer / blogger who knows how to engage other bloggers and online communities.

Your web marketing people need good marcom people to help them with messaging, campaign management, compelling calls to action, etc.

As the business and consequently, the department grows, I could add a social media administrator.


For us it falls into our marcomms efforts. We will then use use our techies to implement what we want. Like the website & SEO are both functions of marcomm but the tech team has to build what we decide. I will be using your Job description. BTW good to know you get called Scott a lot. I get Stewart all the time.

Manuel Gruber

Hey there from Austria!

I agree with this point of view. I am the guy in our company who has exactly this role. But i was never Called "Social Media Administrator" before. It's just logic that also huge companies should spend there money on a guy that manages and controls Social media, rather than spending it on poster campaigns etc.

But I think there are not so many executives that have found out yet. So maybe your blog entry is a first step. Thanks so far.



What an interesting and stimulating post!

Truly companies and organizations will soon be needing someone with the skills David describes.

I wanted to ask David and everyone else here: what sort of pay scale have you got in mind for such a position?

Mark evans

This is a concept that I've thought about as well but framed it as a chief social media officer - a senior position that would oversee a company's social marketing activites, while having executve-level access to a company's marketing, communications and sales people. As social media becomes a bigger part of how companies do business, this position will become more important and necessary.

David Reich

David, I see more organizations creating a position you describe. It should not report to IT, but to PR, which, of course, should be closely linked to Marketing.

Jamie Favreau

I agree this is a growing concept and I am trying to break into one of those roles. I think it needs to be clarified that it is NOT an IT role.

Though you are working with technology you aren't programming the sites and you don't necessarily have the IT background to know how things work. I mean as a person you need to know how they work on a basic level but as far as programming it isn't a role of the IT dept.

David Meerman Scott

Wow - what an amazing discussion here. Thank you all so much for taking the time to help all of us out by commenting.

Yes, clearly this role may need multiple people. (After all the Systems Administrator role in large companies is many people).

I love that so many of you that have this role commented. Thanks Maggie and Meg and Manuel from Austria and of course Jim from Australia for stimulating this in the first place. Those of you who have the role, please jump in with more info on what you do if you have time

One point I'd like to clarify is that I see several roles on social media. The role we're discussing here is different than a person in a company who actually creates content (blogging, YouTube videos, ebooks and participates on social networking). I do see a difference between the people who manage a company's social media presence and those who create the content. Of course in small companies it could be a combined role.

Thanks again all. Great stuff here.


Omar Halabieh

Hi David,

Great post, obvious from all the great comments and feedback that followed. I would like to add that the person taking on this new role must be well versed with all the legal aspects associated with presenting material to the wider public, as this tends to be a general concern. I think that in addition to posting materials, I think this role offers the company opportunities to scan forums etc. for any issues/complaints that its customers might be raising so that they may be addressed in a timely manner before the situation gets out of control. Last but not least, working with the marketing team to find ways to track ROI of the different initiatives undertaken via social media so that to gain more credibility for the channel and the role.


Anne Sorensen (Marketing Is Us)

Hi David .. Great post. Yes, definitely think the role sits within the marketing team as champions of a company's brand and to ensure consistency of content and messages with the overall marketing strategy. Reminds me a little of the days (perhaps not so long ago! :))when discussion occurred as to which department (IT or Marketing) should be responsible for an organisation's website! It seems true that we are witnessing history repeating itself with social media and its management.
Thanks! Have a great week!

Joe Pelissier


This timely. I am about to run a social media workshop for the European Commission who are scared stiff of this stuff.

My fear is that too many of these large organisations tend to 'dabble' instead of working out how to give value to those who follow or subscribe.

The challenge is for them to find ways of using media to create relationships rather than statements.


Joe Pelissier (UK)

Mark Tosczak

Great post, great comments. One thing I'll add is that whatever individual (or team) is coordinating social media should have some expertise in training, coaching and counseling (counseling in the PR sense of the word). The power of social media is in that lots of employees, not just the IT or marketing or customer service folks, can be involved - whether the company likes it or not. So helping employees do social media better and in a more brand-appropriate way is a key task. It would not be easy, probably 'herding cats' is the best metaphor.


am i the only communications professional to have spotted your daring typo in the list.

3. Watch for rouge sites....

Rouge means red in French, a type of cheek makeup blusher and the colour your readers' cheeks should be acquiring round about now.

Rogue means something completely different.

Forget it, I prefer rouge sites... the sound much more powerful.

Rebecca Caroe

PS you need to edit the MarComProfessional site cross-posting too.

David Meerman Scott

Rebecca - every writer needs a good editor. Thanks


Many of you mention which department the 'social media admin' should belong to, but what about small companies? You know, the ones with up to 10 people and no specific departments?

The company I work with (5 people) tried to do it all themselves, within the existing team...because hiring someone full-time would be to expensive...until they realized the actual value in time and money of hiring a full-time person to handle the emarketing side of business.

It paid off almost immediately and I wish more small companies would see this as a guaranteed return on investment (if the right person is hired obviously).

If you're a small/medium business owner, don't try to do online marketing yourself. Make a plan and give the job to someone that will make you money and save you time - time you can spend on things you love doing (isn't that why you started the business in the first place?)

Oh and by the way, social media is for me about customer service and care more than marketing. Help out where you can, manage your reputation and sales will come.

Tess, eMarketing Tigress

PS Feel free to contact me on Twitter if you have any questions or just want to talk. :) http://twitter.com/tessneale

Arthur Charles Van Wyk

Interesting post.

My take on this person is that although they have the company or brand's interest at heart, they should be "balanced".. a lot too. I just had a rep from a company who administers social media on behalf of a theme park in Durban, South Africa delete a posting of mine off the theme park's Facebook page's discussion board.. because my post exposed a shortcoming in their marketing team's understanding of "marketing". Social Media Administrators should be balanced enough to understand that the social space is just one massive global conversation and in that conversation not everything said about you has to be good.

dig bands

I hope this is must a role that will start to pop up more as organizations continue to grow the social media arm of their business. this role definetely helps coordinate the flow of traffic within your org's social media strategies.


Hi everyone,

do anybody have a list of new marketing job related to 2.0, social media, online brand monitoring, ... ?


Werenfried Ressl

These are all necessary discussions and thoughts. Just that the term "Administrator" might be wrong, so I don't like it. Administrating things means just following and caring sort of. This is clearly not enough to accomplish a sustainable social media mission.

I haven't invented the term "social media enthusiast" (SMEnth)? But a person aware of the mission might comply 100% better with requirements for social media affairs seeing himself and being truely enthusiastic.

Pervara Kapadia

This is good information. Perhaps a mention of brand understanding by the Social Media professional is also required so that the person and acts and behaves like the brand and all communication are insync with singular personality


I think I prefer the title 'Social Media Strategist' or 'Social Network Strategist'. The job requires more strategic planning and implementation than just administering. The world is getting closer, shrinking day by day...it takes a well cultured and enthusiastic Social Media Strategist to help a fast thinking company link its gate to the world of success.

Matt A

Your thoughts are interesting but one than needs a degree in that field as well and there should be new courses started regarding social media and online branding.

Andrew McBay

I don't even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

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